By Jill Dagion

Late last year, I attended the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce’s Insight Studio Workshop “Managing Change”, facilitated by Aaron Himelson, a local management and business consultant. This workshop was of particular interest to me as I encourage our clients to implement or adjust processes and improvements within their organizations. I want to make sure that I help our clients realize that change does not have to come with a price — and that it’s important to maintain a healthy company culture despite the transformation of other business areas.

As Aaron discussed in his presentation, the act of ‘process mapping’ is integral to the managing change process. In it, the leader discusses the process of change with their team, but actually stays out of the conversation about solving the issue. To begin process mapping, leaders and their teams will:

  1. Identify the issue
  2. Identify where you’re starting
  3. Identify the end goal that you want to achieve
  4. Identify the ‘doers’, or the people driving what needs to be done
  5. Organize the pieces of the change process in a timeline

Pitfalls of Managing Change

Like any business process, there will be some pitfalls to watch out for. In managing change, leaders need to be sure to rein in the lofty goals that may be set by the team. Ultimately, this teaches us that it is better to have a constant flow of minor improvements that build to a better outcome than repeatedly failing at instituting one major overhaul all at once. Also, don’t wait for perfection — get the solution to the organizational problem at ‘good enough’ so you can start rolling it out. There’s nothing stopping you and your team from setting additional goals once the main goal is rolled out; remember that it is possible to make adjustments as you go along once you have a feel for what can be done better.

Key Ideas to Drive Change

Never compromise your company’s culture for change; always work within your established culture. The ultimate goal is to positively drive change to enhance the company’s culture, not tear it down. For example, employee engagement is so important when instituting a change at the company. Without buy-in from everyone, the culture will be negatively affected. This circles back to the idea mentioned earlier that leadership should stay out of establishing solutions to the problem. Instead, encourage your employees to speak up and truly listen to their voices. Employees are the ones in the trenches who truly understand and navigate the issues within the organization’s processes. In fact, they most likely have already thought about how to address these issues, and they offer a clear and practical perspective that must be heard.

Bottom Line

Change is hard, but necessary to move your organization forward. Drive change by leading it, listening to your employees, and knowing when to step back. Never let the need to change compete with the need to maintain a positive company culture.

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