Planning and counter planning for change
We’ve all heard what can happen to the ‘the best laid plans’. The quote is derived from a Robert Burns poem and speaks to how these plans ‘can often go astray’. This doesn’t mean that planning is ever a wasted exercise; however it neatly encapsulates the necessity for flexibility in implementation and ensuring that a good ‘Plan B’ is part of your overall change plan.
Often we see businesses that identify the need for change however they may be inflexible in how they achieve this. A business may identify the need for a reduced head count for example, in order to reduce labour costs and continue operating profitably. Where that business may fall down is, having correctly seen the need for cost reduction, they are not then open to how it is achieved or sufficiently nimble to work around obstacles that come up around ‘Plan A’. This is where we see often industrial issues, with claims about unfair treatment and lack of required consultation emerging.
Explicitly factor in your people
My team at VECCI and I are primarily working in workplace relations, where we are often dealing with the ‘unknown’ of how people may react or respond in certain situations. In this type of environment, we often need to be armed with a number of different scenarios to allow us to respond effectively on factors that may be unknown to us prior to commencing the meeting. We have found that thinking through, and planning for, each scenario allows us to best prepare and influence an outcome for business.
A simple example of this is considering a proposal to an employee group or union around a change of rostering times or opening hours. In this situation the best outcome is that no one has any concerns with it and you can proceed. Worst case scenario could be that you are faced with an disgruntled employee group, potential industrial action, concerns around their child care and travel arrangements being raised and no clear answers to ‘what now?’, firmly placing you on the back foot. So how is your staffing group going to react to change?
As managers within a business, you are uniquely placed to consider what may be the sticking points for your people, and this can equip you for best determining the approach that is most likely to succeed in engaging your business. Will you potentially have champions within your work team for support around particular ideas? Can you pinpoint resistance areas and address them proactively? Businesses that can identify and harness these factors are generally more effective at change management