As the dust slowly starts to settle around the Royal Commission, many are wondering where to go from here. While the recent election may have brought more clarity and a sigh of relief to many in the industry, it highlighted that even the thought of change can be quite confronting. So how can firms successfully manage this with their teams?

 

Start with the ‘why’

Change in the simplest terms, is transformation from the current state. When coupled with management, it is about aligning and supporting individuals or teams throughout this process. Change can be positive (the introduction of new services to a growing customer base) or negative (downsizing the team to maintain valuation). It can be wanted or unwanted, planned or unplanned.

But whatever the circumstances, you can get on top of it by identifying why change is happening, how it will impact your firm, and from there, what you can do to manage it.

  • Determine the future state, the vision. Why is this change happening? What does success look like? What are your timeframes? How does this tie in to the bigger picture?
  • Detail the current state. What are you currently doing across processes, people, customer experience, revenue model and anything else that relates to your desired future state?
  • Identify the gap. What are the key differences between the future state and current state? What are the risks? This will help you identify what you need to address.

The more details you provide, the easier you’ll find it to develop your transformation plan.

 

Next, outline the ‘how’

 

But not just how you’re going to change, rather, how you’re going to manage that change with your team and your customers.

One of the most popular frameworks for thinking about change management is the Knoster Model for Managing Complex Change. First introduced in the mid 80s, this model is based on the premise that change requires a set of core elements to succeed, and if just one is missing, it will fail.

Last year, we started using an adapted version with every firm who signs up to myprosperity as part of our onboarding process, to help with the roll-out. As you can see, most of the core elements have to do with people:

I have worked with many brilliant individuals who had an amazing vision and a fool-proof strategy laid out for how they were going to achieve it. However, it has inevitably resulted in failure when there wasn’t enough investment in the people responsible for delivering change and those affected by it.

Without a clear vision or incentives to activate and maintain the momentum, your team won’t get on board with the changes you’re implementing. Vision without resources creates frustration among your overworked team, and an action plan without the skills to deliver it will inevitably lead to anxiety as your team wonders how to achieve something they’re not equipped to handle.

So get your team on board

This comes down to having a clear communication strategy, internally and externally. Your team need to understand what’s at stake, and how this change will impact (and where appropriate, benefit) them.

1. Let them know change is inevitable. This is a fairly easy conversation to have when it comes to transformations tied to regulations or compliance requirements which are dictated by the industry / government. However, even then, you’ll still need to justify why you’re approaching this change the way you are. Change is uncomfortable and for it to succeed, your team needs to understand there’s no other option.

2. Tell it like it is. When dealing with negative change, it can be tempting to package it as a positive. Highlighting silver linings is a good thing, but minimising the risks, negative impacts, or the fear and frustrations your team may experience is a sure way to lose their trust.

3. Put yourself in their shoes: what does it mean for them? Peter Senge, an American systems engineer and organisational expert, once said “People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.” Dictating what is going to happen and how will just create resistance. Instead, empower your team by involving them in the decision making process where appropriate, and factoring in how this change will affect everyone individually and as a team.

Not everyone will get onboard and that’s ok. But for those that do, you want them to understand the implications, and create a communication strategy that resonates with their key drivers and addresses their pain points. Providing regular status updates, outlining where the firm is at in its journey through change, is a great way to keep people engaged.