Change is an inevitable fact of life, and when working with executive offices or legislative bodies it’s often mandatory. Whether it’s implementing a new eProcurement system, utilizing new solicitation methods, or just modernizing your codes and processes; it’s a manager’s responsibility to ensure successful adoption. Change Management ranked #8 on NASPO’s Top Priorities for 2020. Here’s how to facilitate change and achieve buy-in from your office.
Before you can get others on board, you should prepare yourself for the change. You need to understand and accept it before you can expect anyone else to. Forbes’ Coaches Council offers 12 tips for overcoming your own aversion to change. Among these are several key steps for preparing yourself to lead others.
Identify any resistance you feel, and what specific factors you are resisting. The issues that you identify as the origins of your resistance will likely be the sources of resistance in others. Consider how this change could affect the roles, responsibilities, and work of the others in your office.
Examine the upsides of change. To mitigate the fear of the unknown or of negative experiences, look at the opportunities and improvements that the change is expected to bring. Find the value and focus on it.
Consider change management as an essential skill. When change comes to your office, the ability to foster successful adoption can prevent the loss of productivity during transition. This is a highly regarded and valuable trait that can boost your career, so develop and demonstrate it.
Create the right conditions for success.
Next, you must consider the atmosphere of the office, or organization, as a whole. Like a seed requires the right environmental conditions to grow and thrive, organizational changes need the right accommodations. Examine the factors that can influence change, such as culture, values, and organizational structure. Organizations with cultures that support learning activities and professional development typically demonstrate an openness to change.[i] Be able to explain how this change aligns with and supports organizational values like transparency or fiscal responsibility. Reach out to the other departments or offices that may be important for implementation to identify and discuss ways they may be able to assist with the process. For example, you may need to bring in HR for changes in job roles or policies, IT for any technological changes, or professional development staff for any new training or learning requirements.
Get everyone involved.
Now that you’ve prepared yourself and your office for change, it’s time to bring everyone else on board.
Explain the vision – Answer the 5 W’s:
People are reluctant to embrace what they don’t understand, so help them understand.
Take it to every level – Anyone who will be affected by a change should understand how and why. Change cannot be sustained without buy-in from every level.
Listen to Feedback – Allowing staff participation creates a vested interest in change, provides partial ownership of the process, and can identify potential obstacles and opportunities.
If you’re interested in learning more, The Effective Change Manager’s Guide is a helpful comprehensive guide. For an in-depth explanation and a practical guide to achieving buy-in, check out Harvard Business School professor John Kotter’s book Buy-In, and his change management classic Leading Change. For a more about overcoming resistance to change, check out this great article from Forbes.
As you work your way through the implementation process, don’t forget to keep everyone updated on progress. As results emerge, share them. Keep your staff engaged. It’s easier to lead your office into the future than to drag them kicking and screaming.
[i] Smith, R., King, D., Sidhu, R., & Skelsey, D. (2015). The effective change managers handbook: essential guidance to the change management body of knowledge. London: Kogan Page.