Seldom do I work for a company that isn't going through a change of some sort. It is now a given that if companies don't change, they will soon become obsolete. The world in littered with companies who were leaders in their field and have been left behind.
Pluralists (1995 onwards) and Millenials (1980 to 1995) love change, in fact they need change to remain motivated. People coming into the workforce today are not expected to remain with one company for more than 3 years.
Gen-Xs (1965 to 1980) are okay with change, in fact they will drive the change for you. Baby-boomers (1946 to 1964) don't enjoy change much. It seems sometimes that we just get used to one thing and it is replaced by something new.
So how do we manage change across the four generations? With a lot of hard work in some instances. Here's a couple of things designed to make you think differently about managing change;
· Continuous improvement Vs step change - continuous improvement is about making many small steps and keeping the momentum going. It has less risk, less impact, and people become gradually accustomed to each step. It is a much longer process however. Step change is about making greater changes in shorter time periods. It is risky and disruptive but if you are in the technological field, you may have to use this method because of rapid advancements.
· Traditional change method Vs Let's just do it method - Traditional change involves unfreezing habits, learning the new change, and refreezing these new skills. Have you got the time for the traditional method or should you just introduce the change and manage the resistance people will have as they try to forget the old method and learn the new?
· Participative Vs directive - Much of change today is directive, in fact it has to be that way if you are using the step change process. Unfortunately it causes resistance. It is probably more important to include your employees in the change process. You know where you are now and where you have to get to so let your team decide how to get you there.
· Lots of communication Vs minimal communication - It is a balancing act, getting just the right amount of communication out for the four generations. Not enough and the vacuum will be filled with guesswork, too much and people won’t read it. BBs, want to know everything, Gen-Xs want to know how they will be involved, Millennials and Pluralists just want the basic facts. And what about the method of communication - memo, letter, email, text message, face-to-face. Each has to be carefully considered.
These are just a few things that you are going to have to consider when managing change. So which is the right path? All and none of them. It depends on the company and on the employees.
Which path should you choose, why not ask your team? After all they are the ones who are going to be the most impacted. Ensure that you have a change management team which represents your workforce, in age, gender and culture. Let them decide for you, it will be much easier and they will have a vested interest in making the change successful.