Managing Change

Managing Change

It's easy to talk about the need and importance for organizational change. But implementing it on your construction job site is another story.
While many business leaders and operations managers are aware that change is necessary for growth and production, carrying out the initiatives and seeing a new project through to completion is easier said than done.

According to CEB Global, this is a worldwide problem: only one-third of organizational change efforts are successful. How can construction site managers and project operations leaders implement that necessary restructuring and shifting of work habits? How do we accomplish what is necessary without wasting precious time and resources?

The following six tips are gleaned from change management experts, as well as what we have seen working with our clients. By following one or a few of these suggestions, you may find that change can take place in an effective, efficient manner.


1. Create a sense of urgency

Unless your company employees realize the need for change, it won't happen. Because they may or may not be privy to all of the working details of the entire construction site and project, there could be gaps that need filling.

Dr. John Kotter, Harvard professor and New York Times best-selling author, Harvard Professor, created an 8-Step Process for Leading Change. He says, "Ultimately, you are going to need a lot of people to help, not just resist. You need to start demonstrating some successes asap to develop credibility, and momentum, to start to win over the skeptical. You have to approach all the work with the question of sustainability in the front of your mind.

Is what we are doing going to show results for a while but then start to slide back to the old way?"


2. Inspire your workers; don't place blame

This leads to our next tip. It is common for leaders to begin with criticizing what is not working, leading to hurt emotions, anxiety, and resistance from people who don't feel that the problems are their fault.

Change expert Kate Nasser says it is all a matter of communication.

"If you want change to be dramatic and fast, don't surprise your employees," she suggests.

Your employees need to have somewhat of a sense of control, and not feel that once change is implemented, their security will fly out the window, too.

"Give them details so they can see it isn't just a lot of talk," says Kate, "Inspire them with vision don't blame them for past events that precipitated the impending change. Show them you believe in what the change will do. If you don't believe in it why should they?"


3. Promote and invest in your employees' leadership development

Changing an organization from the inside out is a daunting task. Jim Hemerling, a leader in BCG's People & Organization and Transformation practices, Hemerling says that successful transformation starts with putting your people first. In his TED talk, 5 Ways to Lead in an Era of Constant Change, he expounded on the following strategies

  • Connect the need for change with a deeper sense of purpose.
  • Invest in talent and leadership development.
  • Give people the tools, resources, and support they need to implement the changes
  • Create a culture of continuous self-development.
  • Leave room for debate and solicited suggestions.

4. Don't push for solutions until there is agreement

As a manager, you should strive to understand what will help your people make a smooth and successful transition. Because until you can agree together on how to change things, getting there will be difficult.

Mark Graban, a consultant in change management, says, "Make sure there is agreement that there is a problem to solve or something that can be made better." He says that unless you are collectively aligned, pushing a solution is probably going to be fruitless.

"Make sure there is agreement that there is a problem to solve or something that can be made better."


5. Provide resources and use data for evaluation

Create a team who can help you organize the change process and inspire those who understand the situation best to lead. Then, focus on proper planning. To do this, you may need to restructure your software systems, upgrade equipment, and use data analysis.

Get clear on the progress that needs to be made, so that you can track growth and eventual success. If you see that you need training sessions or workshops to educate more of your team members on construction technology, invest in that. See this as imperative for growth.

Above all, remember: communication will be the key to change management solutions. Whether or not you can successfully identify, plan, and execute your plan depends on your ability to communicate with every member of the construction team and job site.