You have great ideas for your association—new services, high-tech solutions, and sweeping reorganization plans. But how do you get staff and stakeholders to buy into your vision and support you along the way? Here are 10 strategies to keep in mind for implementing changes effectively.
1. Act quickly.
Communicate impending changes as soon as possible. That way, the rumor mill won’t have a chance to grind out stories that aren’t true.
2. Explain the decision.
Tell stakeholders why the change is important and how it affects them positively. For example, will it enable them to do their work better and faster? Is it an improvement over the old way? If you disguise or distort the reasons for change, stakeholders will be doubly antagonistic when they learn the truth.
3. Suggest change as a trial.
State the problems created by the old method or program, then say, “Let’s try this and see how it works.”
4. Be careful of status.
Every organization has status symbols that are zealously sought and jealously guarded. Don’t let change build one person’s or program’s status at the expense of another’s.
5. Personalize the change.
Take the time to explain changes to individuals. Make sure each person on your team knows how the change will affect his or her role. If some employees or volunteers must learn new skills or fill new jobs, let them know they’ve been selected to help the association because of their special abilities.
6. Solicit group input.
Whenever possible, invite your stakeholders to participate. For example, have them try new equipment you’re considering and, if feasible, let them vote their preference. But don’t try to use participation as a device to make an arbitrary change acceptable.
7. Make no small changes.
Save your energy for important changes. It might be more convenient to have file a cabinet located four feet to the left, but if it causes a fight, why bother?
8. Don’t overdo it.
Don’t unsettle your people by springing a batch of changes, one after the other. Try to space them out or weld them all into one major reorganization.
9. Be patient.
Don’t expect new procedures, ideas, or equipment to be an instant success. It takes awhile for people to adjust to change and get back to peak performance.
10. Watch for red flags.
Stay on the lookout for hardcore resistance signals from staff or stakeholders. When you do face opposition, don’t try to bulldoze the change through. First, find out what people object to and work to eliminate the cause of their fears or reservations.