Change tends to be uncomfortable for most people because it disrupts the usual customs and routines that are familiar to them. But sometimes an office may require adjustments to improve workplace performance. Change management is the process of recognizing and establishing a necessary upgrade in the organization through a set of distinct processes. While overseeing a new development, facility managers can face major technical and social challenges—staff confusion and objections, for instance.
As difficult as change management may be, there are many techniques and tools that FMs can use to successfully implement office changes.
Most failures in change management result from a lack of cooperation from mid-level managers and employees.
Use tools like building automation, data analytics and benchmarking to gather valuable data that will support your decision to make changes such as a reorganization of the office layout.
Doing so can help mitigate the risk of staff resistance that is based solely on emotional reasons.
Having a comprehensive, data-backed plan won’t do much good without the ability to clearly communicate it to everyone.
A mixture of visualization plans, in-person discussions, online material and written documents will ensure your message gets across to the whole team.
In the absence of clear communication, a change plan can crash before it begins or fall apart at the end if different stakeholders had vastly different ideas of what the overall outcome would be.
Naomi Stanford, an organization design consultant, writes in another Facilities Net article that thinking about change must go beyond saying “The company wants to save money” or “It’s time to update our company culture.” Especially if you’re revamping the office design or moving into a new office altogether, it’s crucial to think about the specific ways the new space will affect how work gets done. If you’re a marketing firm introducing flexible work options, for example, how does this affect activities like client meetings? Neglecting to cover these points beforehand may lead you to encounter the same problem as some of Stanford’s clients: low workplace morale, even in a new office space.
The news of change may trigger anxiety in some workers. They may have many questions about how the change will affect the company culture; they may hear things about the change that aren’t true, or they may have doubts about what good the change will do, if change was handled poorly in the past. It’s crucial to communicate with employees about why the shift is happening, and how you plan to handle it better if change efforts weren’t successful before.
Involving everyone affected by the office change can make the entire process run more efficiently and ultimately have a stronger positive effect. However, this can be a difficult matter: too much feedback too early or a failure to engage employees can lead to a reduction in morale and cooperation during the process. Consider using a fixed-duration project plan to clarify each team member’s role along with the different stages of your project. If everyone on your staff understands what’s required and what they need to do, they’ll feel more invested in the plan.
The ADKAR model is a five-stage technique that accounts for both business needs and social needs when creating change. ADKAR, which stands for “Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement,” treats change as a cumulative process, providing actionable steps to address employee issues at any given stage. This is a great tool for facility managers to understand the personal thought and behavior process that occurs in employees when experiencing a major change at work.
The real value of the model is its use in explaining the change to your workforce.
Doing so can help you increase the sense of transparency and empathy of your change management process; it also signals to employees that your implementations have been done with their needs in mind.
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Change management can test the limits of a facility manager’s business acumen and social skills. It can be a daunting experience that ultimately feels chaotic. But with the right tools and approach, FMs can create a more efficient process that shows their employees that there really is a method to the madness.
Photos: startupstockphotos.com, Benjamin Child, Marcin Milewski, DesignCue, Startup Stock Photos