Successful Change Management
Change is rarely popular, but it is an inevitable part of modern business -anyone reluctant to embrace it will find themselves quickly left behind by a hugely competitive and unforgiving global marketplace. Every business department from IT to Payroll to HR to Marketing will be subject to some form of change management initiatives at some point in their evolution. Process and technology move so fast that it is no longer possible to stick with one process or piece of technology for years on end- in fact, doing so would be shortsighted and potentially hazardous.
Successful change management involves detailed planning, careful analysis and the placement of the right people into the right teams at the right times. It is about matching skill sets to tasks and making sure that everybody is on the same page when it comes to the overall goal of organizational change.
Here are a few considerations for any successful change management strategy.
It starts with why
Get really clear on the reason behind the change- the answers to this will drive the thinking, the methodology involved as well as the quality of the end result. It may seem like an obvious place to start, but there have been many instances where change has proven difficult because the ‘why’ was not accepted- this is often the case in companies where the current process is relatively successful. Many people don’t understand the need for change and therefore they don’t change – a simple case of what is not broken does not need to be fixed. The most innovative companies are not afraid to disrupt a winning formula with change initiatives if the gains are worth the effort. Forward momentum cannot be achieved by standing still.
Leadership is required here, the business case for change needs to be articulated by the management team and supported with facts and figures. A clear outline of what the future state will look like needs to be made available for everyone participating in the change management process. If you can create a picture in their minds of what a better future will look like, then you have put in place a vision they can share, buy-in and commit to. Change initiatives run far more smoothly when everybody is on board with the concept and rowing in the same direction- this is teamwork in action, and it is a vital part of change management.
Ownership matters, and it is a crucial part of keeping momentum on any change management project. It is quite easy to start out with strong enthusiasm, but it is simply human nature to default to old patterns of behavior after a period of time. This results in a mindset that is stuck in the old way of doing things and makes working towards change efforts that bit harder. Ownership starts out as a mindset but ends up as committed behavior that is visible and sets an example. Ownership that happens at a leadership team level has a good chance of filtering down to a team level and this is a great way to create momentum behind your change management project. Some features of ownership are taking action, integrity, perseverance, frontline leadership and accountability – these are qualities that change management owners want to see adopted by everybody involved in the project.
Change management can sometimes be light touch but more often than not, it is a transformative process- and this can make people uncomfortable. Transformations involve a lot of moving parts and a lot of deadlines. Outlining a set of key priorities plays a key role in successful change management. People always need to know what to focus on first and what is the most important delivery at any particular time. Productive teams know what they’re working on, what their deadlines are and who is accountable- they have the information they need to proceed and a clear direction to follow. It is helpful to provide all team members with the space and the freedom they need to bring their own specific talents to a change management project. Outlining priorities, or changing them where necessary, will help teams to stay on a clear path to success. They appreciate clarity around the target and the freedom to plan their day in order to meet it. Select 3 or 4 priorities and avoid having too many initiatives happening at once.
Change programs need resources to succeed-these resources usually take the form of people, processes and technology. Strength in all three is ideal but not always available- there may be a requirement to ask that suitably qualified people be removed from day-to-day duties in order to contribute to a wider change management project. Good people are good at managing change and decision making, it is as simple as that. After you acquire the right people, you need to define roles and responsibilities and align the skill sets with the tasks in a way that makes the best use of the valuable experience of the team members tasked with introducing change to the company. Mismatches between team member skill sets and assigned tasks can slow down project momentum and impact morale.
Next you need to look at the technology that is available and whether or not it is fit for purpose. It is often the case that change management is specifically about introducing a new technology to improve existing ways of doing things. A business case needs to be created for the introduction of this technology so that everybody is clear on the benefits it would bring. Legacy technology may not be very efficient but if people have been using it for years, they will have formed an attachment to it. It is really helpful to demonstrate clearly the workplace benefits of any new technology to those who will be using it most. This is about shifting mindsets away from the old technology and the comfort of familiarity. And moving towards the productivity gains and efficiency benefits of the new technology. Making the future state look a whole lot better than the present state is half the battle.
Payslip Technology-change in action
Payslip technology is all about progressive change in the payroll department. Our technology supports changing practices and improves them. It was created to address specific payroll challenges but also results in wider business benefits to HR and Finance teams. The software is intuitive and designed to transform a manual process into an automated process. A process which converts data from a range of diverse formats into standardized data which makes it easy to create and deliver consolidated global reporting.
Global employers can integrate easily with payroll vendors that they have strong relationships with, and then swap in a new vendor quickly if they need to develop a new relationship. This crucial flexibility was built into the technology to allow employers to change when they need to. Payslip technology allows payroll professionals to manage their end to end payroll process from a single screen. This delivers control, flexibility and visibility, replacing a lot of confusion, doubt and manual process in evidence inside payroll departments at many multinational companies today. This is an example of genuine change management- a process that improves practically every aspect of an existing process and one that works for multiple parties in the payroll eco-system.
By following the above guidelines and always keeping track of the views of the participants in the change management programme, major change can happen at a faster rate and a smoother level than you might have thought possible. Preparation and groundwork will pay dividends in the long run.
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