Making Sure Your Workforce Is Ready for Change
It goes without saying that there are some outstanding process improvement methodologies that could have a huge impact on a business by saving it extraordinary amounts of money, making it significantly more competitive and substantially improving its bottom line. Lean Six Sigma, Six Sigma, Lean and Kaizen have been proven to be extremely effective, but there are rare occasions when they simply can’t manage to meet expectations.
What Might Be Going On
In most of those cases, this is caused by the people working in the particular organization simply not being able to adapt to the changes fast enough, and thus crippling the process of improvement.
This is why it is of utmost importance for the management of a company to make sure all the employees in their organization are ready for and accepting of change. Before you plant the seeds of change, you should make sure that the soil is fertile and damp, otherwise you’d be wasting a lot of seeds and effort without even getting close to your goals. This means that there is always work to be done, before you can dive deep into any business process optimization methodology.
Creating a culture of change is something that is always highly beneficial to a business. It makes an organization more adaptive and agile simply because changes are not stressful to the employees, and therefore do not adversely affect their productivity and creativity. Fortunately, there are a few different strategies to help battle the psychological resistance to change most people are prone to.
Make the Idea Sound Acceptable
In order for people to accept change, they need to understand the particular idea behind it in every particular case. The options available should be clear to everybody, so they can understand why a particular option is viewed as favorable. Additionally, many people accept ideas for changes much more easily when they feel at least partial ownership of the concept. Lean does this through lean kaizen events, and Six Sigma through participation on a DMAIC project team.
Both techniques work by involving the people in the change through an open discussion. This will allow everybody to process the information in their own way, and to either support the change, or provide suggestions for additional improvement.
Don’t Allow Change to Feel Too Speedy
Very often the problem with change is that is happens too quickly. While some employees might naturally thrive in dynamic and ever-changing environments, others might find constant change too tiring and stressful. This is when they start feeling change is happening too fast. If the people impacted by the change are saying it’s too fast, then it needs to slow down. Timelines and deadlines are not excuses to speed through change management.
What can be done to make change feel slower and more manageable is to introduce it in stages or milestones. Defining clear stages and making them visible makes a huge psychological difference. It also gives everybody time to prepare. This removes the apparent chaos and uncertainty. When everyone is working on the same time frame and plan, it helps bring along those who are resistant.
There should also be time spend investigating the root causes behind the resistance. Many times, there are valid reasons not to make the change, and these risks or concerns are not being communicated very well. The goal should be successful implementation of an improvement, and ignoring the resistance will catch up to you later on.
When you start introducing change through Lean and Six Sigma, the initial efforts will be difficult, since the culture of change is not in place. You can reduce this resistance by getting people involved in the idea generation and solutions, and continually reinforcing that change will become more and more common in the future. Over time, you will notice less resistance to changes being proposed if you keep these two principles in mind.
Learn more about culture change in our Toyota Manage for Daily Improvement training materials >>>
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