The initial excitement of the acquisition is starting to die down. The dust has settled and all that talk about proactively navigating change is… well – it’s been just that: talk. Faced with the pressures of delivering for the business, aligning strategies, and putting a new organization in place, you may find yourself asking, Where do I actually start?
Stop. Breathe. And come to terms with the fact that while it all needs to happen, it can’t all happen at once.
What’s your biggest priority?
If you distill down everything that’s affecting your people, processes and technology, you need to create value through change.
And that’s not easy in this type of transformation, regardless of its size. It will take discipline, and an analytical, systematic approach to guide your journey – one that employs agile strategies for implementing change and helps people adapt.
Consider a five-step approach that can help you quiet the noise and focus on what’s most important:
1 Know where the organization is today
Internally, your people are your greatest source of insight. Talk to them, listen with empathy to what they’re saying about current challenges and opportunities. Deploy tools that can help you gather feedback in a variety of forums (i.e. interviews, surveys, assessments, focus groups). Be listening for voices that could become your ambassadors for change.
2 Activate a communication and engagement program that helps address and close gaps
Considering where the organization is today and your vision for the future, identify gaps and prioritize the work to close those gaps based on their impact and urgency.
Be aware that bridging those gaps will affect people in different ways, so care needs to be taken around helping your employees navigate these changes. Build personas and develop a compelling ‘story of change’ that’s contextually relevant to each, and aligns on a commonground, i.e. the customer. Be consistent, clear and honest.
3 Enable sustainable change
By creating a change leadership plan that aligns with the organization’s appetite for change as well as strategic priorities, and activating a change network, you’ll have established a foundation for change with a lasting effect.
To be successful, change must drive performance – and your people drive performance. Among the many pluses of this merger is that change can also provide greater job satisfaction because it creates opportunities for employees to learn new skills and experience professional growth. Assessing skills and capabilities and developing growth plans for your employees helps close gaps while improving employees’ enjoyment of their work.
Putting accountability structures in place is an often-overlooked element by organizations seeking sustainable change. Drive performance through improved processes, including governance models andSteering Committees, responsible for identifying needs, prioritizing efforts and communication across the organization.
4 Monitor and adapt
You have a plan and you’ve introduced it to all impacted constituencies, in a timely and relevant way. As you continue to evolve the organization, measure and monitor for change adoption and impact, and adjust your course as needed. Recognize that everyone learns, grows and adapts in different ways and paces; some fatigue quickly while others are energized by change. You'll want both types in the previously mentioned team of change ambassadors. Ensure that you’re making time to celebrate wins, and acknowledge change champions who are helping drive desired behaviors within the organization.
5 Take a servant leadership approach
This integration will require change leadership that provides clarity around not just what is changing, but why. When individuals can understand the reason for the change they can help provide creative ways to meet the expected outcomes.
As a leader of now two organizations that are trying to learn how to work well together – one of your key responsibilities is to now serve the needs of an even larger group of individuals. Empathy and understanding will serve you well in bringing clarity to these changes at the individual level.
At CMG, we recognize that change is part of being in the business, more so today than twenty years ago. Our transform, grow, thrive model is built to ensure there’s a runway for a path to long-term growth and continuous adaptation. Transformation is in our DNA – with team members having been acquired, acquiring and helping organizations grow in multiple market segments. We partner with organizations to help you evolve and see: Sustainable change.