Once your organization has gone live with a big change—everyone is aligned on your new purpose, processes have been adjusted, and the technology has been implemented—you might be tempted to pat yourself on the back and consider your work done. In reality, the real work has just begun. You need to make sure the positive changes you made actually stick, because there’s nothing worse for a business than going through the process of transformation only to drift back to where it started.
To help ensure long term success and sustained change, here are ten tips to keep in mind:
- Stay focused on your North Star. It’s important to write down your reason for transforming the business—your North Star. Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” As early as possible during your project or after you go live, take a few minutes to articulate a simple purpose statement that builds the case for change with your stakeholders. The best purpose statements use words of passion that reflect the language of your business and may allude to the pain of the current state, the hope of a desired future state, or benefits the changes will bring to customers, shareholders, or employees. Your purpose statement is unique to your company, but don’t assume everyone magically understands why the hard work of transformation is worth doing. After you go live, use your North Star to continually remind your team why the hard work must be sustained.
- Keep your leaders aligned. Leaders may feel threatened, confused, or anxious about your transformation. Use your purpose statement to build their buy-in and alignment on why the change is important and what their role is to ensure change can be sustained.
- Focus on your people. If you want change to last, your people must remain a constant, central focus of the transformation. Make sure change is something you do with your employees, not to When faced with a change, your employees’ first thoughts will be, “How will this affect me?” Look at the change through their eyes and make sure they—and you—can answer that question clearly and concisely.
- Communicate and listen. While communicating change early and often is key, it’s just as important to listen. Make sure employees know that their opinions matter, and create ways for them to share their ideas. By addressing issues as they arise, you’ll be able to find solutions before they become bigger problems.
- Keep the change coming. Change management isn’t a one and done process, and the go-live isn’t the end of your change journey, it’s the beginning. Organizations need to view change as the best and only way a company can evolve and remain successful. This can be stressful for some employees (and some leaders!) but it’s inevitable. Once everyone understands that change is continuous and iterative, they’ll understand what to expect and be better able to adapt.
- Be flexible and patient.Change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and energy, especially when it’s done right. And because change never ends (see tip #3) there’s no reason to rush the process. Better to implement micro transformations frequently than macro transformations every few years. The more you can approach change management with a Zen attitude, the better off you and your organization will be.
- Expect setbacks. Change is never a straight line—there are always unexpected turns, dead ends, and missed exits. Keep your eyes on the destination, try to enjoy the views in the meantime, and be grateful for the unexpected lessons you learn when you inevitably veer off the beaten path.
- Track your progress. Everyone loves a good before and after. Measure where your organization is before the transformation so that you can measure ROI of your big change later. By sharing cold hard facts from data, surveys, and revenue, your organization will have a clearer picture of how the change helped and why all their hard work was worth it. Facts always win.
- New habits reinforce the new normal. New thinking leads to new actions which lead to new habits. Celebrate new processes, new ways of collaborating, and new measurements. Lead forward and your organization will build new habits and new ways of working, and the business will see the reward.
- Lean on your partners. When you’re running a successful small business or a large organization, you’ve already got a lot on your plate. A big transformation project can feel impossible to get right. By working with seasoned partners such as nCino who have led many companies on successful change management journeys, you can reap the benefits of their experience and outsource some of the work, giving you more time and energy to focus on your business. When it comes to happy, satisfied customers, there’s only change we want to see—more of them.
– Greg Thompson, Senior Director, Adoption Services, nCino
To learn more about nCino’s change management services, visit our website.