Raise your hand if you’re a big fan of change.
If your hand just went up, you either work with a really adaptable group of people who make it incredibly easy, or you’re trying hard to convince yourself.
For the rest of us, change is something we dread, especially if we have to manage it within our organization.
Vik Bangia, managing principal of Verum Consulting, has overseen more change than most after his own experience in corporate real estate and the work he’s done for dozens of companies over the past decade.
At our recent Workplace Champions summit, Bangia shared his best advice for those responsible for managing change within their own organizations.
Managing Change Like A Champion: 5 Rules to Live By
1. Understand Your Influencers
Bangia vividly recalls the time he was thrown out of a meeting because he recommended a new workplace design.
The CFO only saw dollar signs and wanted to know how such a change could possibly have any impact on the company’s bottom line.
Bangia didn’t have an answer ready, and he didn’t have anyone else to back him up.
However, once he shared his recommendation with the HR leader, she was immediately on board. She pointed out they had been experiencing low employee engagement scores company-wide, and she believed the quality of the workplace was a contributing factor.
“The HR leader became my voice, and the organization ultimately decided to move forward with the initiative,” Bangia said.
The lesson? You may not have the power to motivate people to make change, but you can find the people who do and start with them.
2. Understand the Role of Technology In the Workplace
Nothing can make or break a change faster than workplace technology. When it’s working well, it’s your best ally; when it isn’t, it’s your worst enemy.
Some employees will easily adapt to new technology; others will resist it all costs.
And attitudes around technology tend to fall along generational lines. Most Baby Boomers, for instance, are considered technology adaptable; they’re willing to learn, but it’s not necessarily intuitive to them.
Generation X, those 37-50, are considered technology savvy; they understand how to use technology well, but they’re able to live without it for at least some period of time if necessary. Millennials tend to be technology dependent; they might be tempted to check their smartphones multiple times within an hour, which can hinder their productivity.
The next generation entering the workforce, Generation Z, are technology natives. They have never known a world without the internet or smartphone apps. The jobs for many people within this generation don’t even exist yet, and the technologies they’ll use may not either. Still, technology will continue to be an important part of attracting and retaining these employees.
3. Think of Real Estate As a Brand
A happy, engaged workforce is more receptive to change than an unhappy one.
Technology is an important part of the employee experience, but so is the physical workplace.
Bangia advised workplace leaders to think of their real estate as a brand. It should be reflective of your company’s mission and core values, and it should be a place where employees want to spend time.
One great example of real estate as a brand is Be the Match. The donor registry organization has a well-designed workplace that reflects its brand colors and has wall-sized art of donors and transplant patients.
4. Start With Your Truth
Verum means “truth” in Latin, and Bangia decided it was the perfect name for his company because he’s in the business of helping organizations find their truth.
As he helps a client implement change, Bangia starts with a process he has developed that is an acronym for Verum:
- Validate assumptions—Perform an in-depth assessment of your business environment to reveal inherent biases and constraints
- Eliminate obstacles—Label the issues that will derail you from achieving your desired outcome
- Re-cast expectations—Revise earlier strategies to elicit deep personal commitments, mutual support and accountability from team members
- Unveil a new strategy—Once everyone on the team is committed to the new vision, design tactical action plans for implementing it
- Manage implementation—Help the team stay focused as they move forward with the new strategy
5. Use Systems Thinking
As you prepare for the change, consider how one change will affect other areas of your workforce and anticipate unintended consequences. Ask a lot of “what if” questions and set boundaries for the change as you work toward it gradually.
From there, it’s a matter of what Bangia calls “successive approximation” - taking small steps until you reach the larger goal.
More Insights On Managing Change
Looking for more advice on managing change from people who have been there? Check out our new Workplace Innovator Podcast!
Host Mike Petrusky brings together some of the best innovators in the industry, including Dr. Eunhwa Yang, assistant professor in the School of Building Construction at Georgia Tech; David Martínez, PhD, global director at FMHOUSE; and Michelle Boolton, national architecture and design manager at Gunlocke.
The podcast discusses the latest workplace trends, challenges and the human side of workplace technology.
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