In the midst of a pandemic, change is something we’re all going through. Whether it’s a change in our previously made spring plans, kid’s schooling or daily routine, we’re all making changes in our personal lives to get through these times. But have you thought about the changes you should make at your agency? Changes such as migrating to a new agency management system or hosting your software in the cloud would ensure your business continues to run smoothly, especially in a time of an unforeseen crisis.
I realize that no one particularly likes change, myself included. However, it’s critical to constantly evolve and adapt your business to stay relevant and avoid becoming obsolete. Adaptability is a defining characteristic between success and failure; growth and stagnation. A quote I came across recently conveys this well:
“Either you’re an agent of change, or you’re destined to become a victim of change. You simply can’t survive over the long term if you insist on standing still.”
If you were already thinking about switching to a cloud-hosted management system or if the current situation has got you moving in that direction, knowing how to successfully navigate that transition is key. So in this blog, I want to go through some of the reasons change initiatives go off track, what change management is and three core principles that can help you successfully navigate change. Let’s get started.
Common Pitfalls of Change
- Complexity: Don’t try to change too much at once or overcomplicate it. When work is simple and the proposed change is within employees’ comfort zone, they are more likely to welcome change and not resist it.
- Decision paralysis: Choosing not to make a decision is still a decision. Your culture needs to be ready to tackle problems and seize opportunities without wasting time.
- Lack of preparation: About 70% of all change initiatives fail because of inadequate planning. Identify all the conditions and activities that must occur early to set the project up for success, like key stakeholders, roles, timeline, resources, and capacity.
- Moving too quickly: Many leaders fail to recognize that change takes time. Instead of preparing their culture for change, most leaders believe it’s best to move quickly and jump right into it. However, altering the way employees think about their roles, the business and your culture doesn't happen overnight.
- Failure to communicate: The number one reason why organizational failure occurs is because the case for making a change is not adequately articulated to the troops, and therefore, is never fully embraced.
3 Guiding Principles to Change Management
Change management is the discipline of leading individuals, teams and entire organizations through organizational change via a combination of behavioral and social sciences, information technology and business solutions. By understanding the basic phases of change and valuing your staff, you can prepare your culture for change and avoid common pitfalls of failed change efforts.
To successfully navigate change requires an explicit focus on three core principles:
The people who make up your agency are one of the most crucial elements for change management success. People must acknowledge and buy into the need to change at the most basic level. Once buy-in is established, employee engagement at each stage needs to be closely monitored to address any resistance and create a shared sense of urgency for change. Continual, transparent communications will foster listening and provide a sounding board for issues and concerns. To help create a more receptive environment, include employees in the planning process then clearly define goals, roles and processes.
Processes detail how the work gets done, providing a plan for introducing and systemizing your technology strategy. Risk can be managed by putting a robust governance structure in place, where processes are documented to establish a foundation for ongoing growth. Finally, processes should be continuously updated based on best practices and lessons learned.
Technology investment must encompass all aspects of your business, from managing internal staff to connecting to customers and insurer partners. It must integrate all applications to deliver a consistent user experience and create a single view of your business. Agencies will not succeed managing separate, disparate systems that create multiple sources of data. When selecting the technology right for the business, it must also be flexible and scalable enough to support current and future growth.
Before diving in head first, it’s important to have a clear concept of what you're trying to achieve. With this vision in hand and the three core principles in mind, you can better strategize initiatives that deliver value.
Here are a few additional resources I thought may be helpful to you as you navigate change:
Watch Hear from Your Peers: Path to Applied Epic webinar to hear from two of your colleagues on how their use of Applied Epic, the world’s most widely used management system, is driving tangible results at their agencies.
Read Insider Tips: Switching Agency Management Systems – Pt. 1 for an inside look at what to expect during the implementation process.
Read The Power of Positivity: A Lesson In Successful Change Management to learn a few pointers from your peer that really helped them when implementing new software to become a digital agency.