Two sides of change

You may be surprised to learn there are only two sides of change in a business

  • the physical stuff, often referred to as the ‘hard‘ side
  • the people stuff, often referred to as the ‘soft‘ side

The hard side of change

Weirdly, the hard side is pretty easy to manage because it’s about getting things organised, the actual process of change, e.g. process mapping, setting up teams, developing project plans, etc.

The soft side of change

In comparison, the ‘soft’ side is much harder to manage as it involves people and their feelings, their beliefs and their past experiences. People have lots of different views and opinions based on their own personal learning and backgrounds. They’re often wedded to their thoughts and experiences. This is where many plans come unstuck!

Why does change go wrong?

All too often we find that people in charge of operational change focus on the hard side, the easy to do stuff: the bits where they can follow a tried and trusted methodology.

When it comes to the soft side of change, things aren’t so clear. It’s very hard to apply a methodical approach when dealing with peoples’ feelings and emotions. There are many tried and tested techniques but persuading people to adapt to and adopt change is a deeply personal and individual experience. That’s why so many leaders/managers stick with just fixing the physical side of their operation.

This has resulted in change being seen in terms of projects, moving from one pre-defined state to another. True change is really about persuading and motivating people to work in new and better ways. True change also moves in leaps and bounds when you involve the very people doing the job. They’re the ones that work with the processes, the plans and often, the customers. Your staff have experiences of what works and what doesn’t. They also have thoughts and opinions of what could work better.

There is plenty of evidence to show that rather than just focusing on the mechanics of change we should be focusing on the very things that can scupper change – our staff!

What are the benefits of focussing on the soft side of change?

Talking with and listening to your staff encourages and empowers them to make improvements as they work. As they do, they will become more engaged with what is going on and want to improve things further. The leadership is in charge of the direction the company needs to go (the vision) but the staff are now engaged in making their jobs easier and the company vision achievable.

The more engaged your staff are with their work the less sickness and absence you’ll see.  You and your managers will save time as you won’t need to do as many sickness/absence interviews. You may also find that your staff want to stay with your business, further reducing your costs as you won’t need to recruit new staff as often.

What are the determining factors of successful change?

  1. Consistent leadership
  2. A well-communicated vision
  3. Empowered and supported staff
  4. Recognition that not everything will turn out as expected

How will you know when your staff are change-ready?

  1. They will want to be involved
  2. They will begin to come up with new ideas that hadn’t been considered previously
  3. They won’t fear change
  4. They will want to make a difference to the ways of working as they can see the benefits for them, your business and your customers
  5. Staff sickness/absence and turnover will start to reduce as they become happier in their work

If you and your staff are constantly chasing your tails trying to get things done and have tried to make lasting changes in your business just for them to fail, perhaps you need to look at the ‘soft’ side of your business.

It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it. That’s what gets results!

Stuck on how to implement this new way of thinking? If you’d like help improving change in your business, enabling your staff to engage ultimately leading to happier staff and customers, then call us in confidence on 01905 380008 or click on our contact page