Simple Changes Still Require Thought

I'm all for simplifying whatever policies and processes we can. In theory, at least, 'simple' is better. Up to a point.

In an article from Seth Godin, Measuring Without Measuring, Godin discusses this. Companies will use a metric that they find useful to measure. Then they'll continue to use that one metric, even to their detriment. He gives some examples of company policies that have gone wrong. They made efforts to have cost savings in an area. But they disregarded (or didn't notice) what was best for their customers.

Companies will make mistakes when they institute change. This is to be expected and is not in itself a reason to avoid change. Here are some steps to take to reduce the stress that will inevitably occur during a change.

  • Include the people who will be affected by a proposed change in the initial planning stages. Managers have the big picture about how things work. But the managers could be out of touch with the details that only the worker would be aware of. Seek out and consider the worker's input on both the change and the timeline.

  • For employee policy changes, let employees know well ahead of its effective date. Use staff meetings, memos, email, posting - whatever is best for the employee. Use with more than one method for major changes. Consider any comments that they have, and adjust where it makes sense.

  • Update policy and procedures manuals where applicable. Give step-by-step documentation to affected staff.

  • State the start date and ensure that all involved will be able to meet this date.

  • Ask for feedback during implementation. Ask again in regular intervals until the change has been fully absorbed.

  • Ensure that customer service and sales reps are aware of production changes. Seek out information on any impact (positive or negative) on the customer.

  • Don't overreact or give up too soon if there are problems. Instead, review to see that the new procedures have been properly managed. Make adjustments until you have the expected results.

Finally, keep in mind that change is difficult for many employees. Give credit both to those who crafted the change, as well as those who implemented it. Recognize and appreciate the work your staff put in to make change happen. If you do, you'll likely find the next change more easily accepted.