When it comes to transformation, manufacturers are often focused on improvements associated with supply chains and the factory floor. However, there’s one mistake we see over and over: not properly utilizing change management when embracing transformation, Industry 4.0 ideas, or any other major change to workflows and processes.
Change management is exactly what it sounds like – preparing for and managing the process of change itself, separately from the actual changes being made. Change management is a planning process, and a communications process, intended to make the changes go as smoothly as possible. It seems basic – and it is – but you might be surprised how often change management goes overlooked.
There are just a few basic steps to start creating a change management plan.
1. Identify key hurdles and risks associated with implementing the change
Who and what within your company will be most impacted by the changes you want to make? What are the most likely risks or problems that might come up, during implementation? These issues should be the main focus of your change management planning. You want to clear the path, so to speak, of as many obstacles as possible so that implementation will have fewer problems.
2. Get key participants on your side
Large-scale changes cannot be solely a top-down activity. If you don’t have buy-in from the most important people who will either be implementing or impacted by the changes, you will face an uphill struggle. We’ve seen too many potentially-good plans end up sabotaged in implementation due to key figures not playing along, or even fighting against the changes to preserve the status quo.
The key here is communication. Look at it like a sales pitch – take the affected people, and help them understand how the changes will benefit them. If all the key participants are enthusiastic about the project, a lot of potential problems will fade away.
3. Invest in education and communication to the entire team
Once you have key stakeholders and participants on your side, it’s time to create more widespread awareness across your teams and operations. No one should show up to work one day and be surprised to discover their job has changed. Everything should be outlined and communicated far enough in advance that everyone has time to learn and adapt to the new paradigm.
4. Listen to feedback and be willing to take it under consideration
Finally, remember that this isn’t a one-way process. Those impacted by the change are quite likely to have useful insights into how to make the change happen more smoothly, or how to avoid “ground level” problems that upper management might not have thought of. Use your communication tools to remove or avoid even more potential obstacles.
With these processes in place, change won’t necessarily be easy, but it will certainly be easier. And with good communication, you’ll avoid numerous problems that otherwise could have slowed down the project.
Communicating the Strategy
LogicBay's approach to change management is focused on impacting customer success through a manufacturer's dealers and distributors. This means deepening customer understanding and insights, and connecting with customers in new ways. Our Channel Performance Communication Plan (CPCP) is developed for both manufacturers and dealers to ensure consistency in communication and alignment at all levels so that everyone can be prepared – and motivated – to take on the important changes that have been identified as critical to achieving success.
To learn more about implementing a well-formulated communications strategy and what's included in the CPCP, click below!