Let’s set the scene. You’ve identified your company has a limiting factor and have recognised there needs to be a change. This could be that you’re lacking skilled labour for technical jobs such as wiring or you’re turning away potential projects because the shop floor is too busy. Let’s take the latter as an example.
After lots of research and multiple meetings, it’s decided that to get the most value for your company you will invest in the design software EPLAN Pro Panel, EPLAN training for two Engineers and the Rittal Perforex LC machine. It’s a big order, but you are willing to invest as you know this will elevate your company and keep pace in the constantly evolving environment.
The machines are ordered, and at this point you hold a meeting to tell your team about the exciting news. Only, you’re faced with resistance and hear concerns like, ‘the machine is going to take my job’, ‘we’ve always done it this way’ and ‘that will never work’. Feeling deflated, you leave the meeting thinking ‘they’ll come around to the idea’, pushing all concerns aside instead of facing them head on.
Unfortunately, we predict that this scenario will fall into the 70% of failures previously mentioned. This is because the leader has not anticipated how the team will feel about the change.
How do people handle change?
As human beings we are wired to have negative feelings towards or be suspicious of change, it is part of our survival instinct. We tend to focus on the negative connotations of change, for example seeing it as a threat, rather than the positive gains it could bring.
To enable your team and/or colleagues to see the proposed changes as a positive and actively support the successful implementation of the project, it’s crucial that they’re involved from early on in the process. Research has shown that employee involvement is critical to the success of any change programme. With that in mind, we’ve outlined three points to consider.
1. Understand who the change will impact
When assessing who will be impacted by the new changes, it’s easy to identify the individuals whose day-to-day roles will be impacted. For example, the Engineers must learn how to use the new software and the shop floor team who do the panel cut outs by hand, will now be using the machine. But what about the buyer who will now be receiving BOMs directly from the EPLAN software? No department or individual wants to feel left out of the change, so ensure you address everyone in the company, stakeholders and even customers who will be impacted.
2. Clear communication
The first step in communication is dialogue. Clear and focused dialogue is one of your most powerful tools during a period of significant change. Communicating directly with your employees and team members is what will generate employee buy-in.
Begin by acknowledging that past methods weren’t necessarily bad, but to achieve great things the team must unite and evolve. The team needs to understand the need for this change, the benefits the change will deliver, as well as how it will impact their responsibilities. This will require you to listening carefully to their concerns and addressing them to alleviate any fears they may have. Not only in meetings, but keep your ear to the ground, one employee’s concerns can really affect those around.
LCA Group tackled one of their concerns “I can do it quicker by hand” head on by creating a video ‘Man vs Machine’, by where two employees raced to complete the cut outs of a control panel, one manually and one using the Rittal Perforex LC machine. Check out the video for yourself.
The second part to successful communication is to determine if the message has been received and understood. Factors such as emotion, knowledge, experience and cultural background can hinder the decoding process and therefore it’s recommended that a feedback loop is introduced. Please be aware that silence in an organisation should not lead you to the assumption that the message is understood and accepted.
3. Prepare for potential roadblocks
No matter how well you plan for change, things don’t always go accordingly. Therefore, preparing for potential roadblocks and removing obstacles which could prevent the company from moving forward is imperative. If these issues are anticipated beforehand, even the most complex problems can be addressed and resolved.
In addition to the evident concerns by the proposed change, you must also look back at past change initiatives. Are there past failures plaguing the minds of employees? Will your employees view this as a dying project like the last? It can be really difficult to empower and motivate employees if they’re stuck in this mindset, but addressing any concerns they may have early on, you can ensure that they can be tackled and included as part of communications and roll out.
Most of us are creatures of habit and are reluctant to change, especially in the workplace, however, it’s important to note that virtually every organisation will undergo transition changes to remain relevant in a constantly evolving competitive landscape.
In order to remain competitive, your mind must live in the future, and by having a futuristic vision which enables your company to align with Industry 4.0/digitalisation, change is expected.
The 3 aforementioned pointers will assist with the roll out changes, whether they’re a result of innovation or need. Find out how other companies have embraced change and innovation with Rittal and EPLAN.