Society is in a constant state of change. Changes in attitudes, morals, technology, and economy affect our personal and professional lives. Companies don’t exist in a static world. They have constant interaction with external forces such as competitors, customers, governments, stockholders, suppliers, society, and unions. Businesses must adapt to changes in society or they will wither and die. Some change is directed from within and other times is it forced upon us by outside sources. Companies in the twenty-first century and beyond must be faster, customer oriented, quality conscious, and foster employee involvement to compete in today’s global market.
Change can be stressful. This stress can manifest physically and mentally. Companies can face hostility, controversy, and conflict, both overtly and covertly. The bigger the change, the more issues will arise. As CTI is a customer service type organization, we are often at the mercy of our customer’s needs and wants. We also operate in many states and for the federal government. Navigating the myriad of state and federal laws and statues often creates change we had not anticipated nor are necessarily prepared for. However, we must change to survive.
A change program “prepared on high and cast as pearls before swine” is destined to fail. Captain Queeg said “Now, there are four ways of doing a thing aboard ship–the right way, the wrong way, the Navy way, and my way. I want things on this ship done my way.” (The Caine Mutiny: A novel of World War II by casino Herman Wouk). We all know how this one turned out. Change that is dictated and not managed dooms most projects to ultimate failure.
What can we do to manage this change to successful completion? First is communication. We must have open lines of communication, both up and down the chain, from the customer to the CEO to the workers at the lowest level. Part of communication involves the company having a clearly articulated vision of past, present, and future. We have to know where we are before we can see where we are going. The second step is accepting the fact that change is going to happen whether we like it or not. A key to overcoming resistance to change is, again, communication, as well as respect and understanding by all parties. The th ird step is involving employees in making the change happen to the greatest extent possible.
In summary, change is a necessary evil. Change will occur whether we want it to or not. Whether forced upon us from outside sources, or generated from within to meet the changing needs of our customers or society, change is going to happen. How we manage this change is going to dictate our happiness level in the end. We all need to work together to make required or mandated changes as smooth and easy as possible.