Guest Post by Chris Hooper
Managing change is hard enough – I’d say it’s even more so when you’re the youngest in the board room. I am 27 years old and spend most of my time rolling out high tech accounting solutions to staff members and executives much older than me. The first couple of projects were a challenge, but now I have it down to a fine art.
Here are some tips for other young managers tackling change management:
Having a good track record with past change management projects and a few wins under your belt will always make the job easier. If this is your first project, it doesn’t mean that the task is unsurmountable, it just means you have to work twice as hard to get buy in, and make damn sure that the project is a success.
Identify deficiencies in current practice
Most change in business is initiated in the pursuit of business improvement, which implies that there is a current practice within the organisation that is not as effective as it could be. You should identify specifically what that practice is, dig deep into it and identify every flaw you can.
This is easiest done by going to your project stakeholders (the people most affected by the change) and asking them “What do you hate about this process, system or procedure?” Get your pen ready, because they’re going to rant at you. Using a personal example from my work, stakeholders will often come back with responses like, “I’m double handling data between systems.”
List the implications
Identify the implications of the deficiency in this practice. To put it simply, once you have identified as many deficiencies as you can, you need to ask “What does this mean to you, our employees, our customers and the business?” Using my previous example, a response I would often get back would go along the lines of, “It takes twice as long to do.”
Get buy in
Once you’ve asked the questions from your stakeholders, ask one last question – “If I could fix this problem for you, would you support me in pitching the solution to management?” Most will say yes, in fact, no one has said no to me yet. But just to make sure, ask for confirmed action immediately – “Thanks, can you send me a quick email confirming your support of this initiative?”
Quantify the implications
Accountants and executives love this part. Let’s face it, for the most part; we’re in business to make money. So you can have a million emails from staff supporting the change, but if the numbers don’t stack up, management won’t go for it. Quantify the cost and benefits, and you’ll be one step closer to kicking a goal.
Pitch the change
By now you should have a proposal complete with support letters from stakeholders and a cost-benefit analysis. You should be all set to pitch the idea to management at the next meeting!
While Chris Hooper holds the official titles of Advisory Partner at Cirillo Hooper & Company, Executive Director at Startup Adelaide and Tutor at the University of South Australia, Chris describes his job description as more of “a visionary”. Chris has received a number of awards and honours for his work, featured significantly in media and publications, and is proudly part of the 2014 AIM30 Alumni.