Managing change, whether it’s in a role or across the whole fleet, is a delicate operation but one that it is important to perfect in order to minimise disruption to your business.
Regardless of how directly change affects individuals, many people find adapting to things that are new or different a challenge. Great fleet managers are able to help their teams navigate change with confidence. And it’s important to manage change effectively, not just from a personnel satisfaction point of view, but because minimal disruption to the business means a reduced risk to the bottom line. A team in flux is not a productive one.
We have put together a five-step process to help guide your change management project. There is no one way; as a manager, you are best placed to know how much help your team will need and which of these elements is going to need the most work.
Before you can pile in with suggestions or a plan of action, you need to listen to your team, and not just those people who are directly affected either. What are their worries and concerns? .
But it’s not just about taking their worries on board. Very often change is dictated from above and it’s important for management to understand how front line staff will be impacted by the plan and see if there are areas where their insight will make it better.
Communication is as much about listening as it is talking.
Understanding why change is happening is vital to keep everyone working towards the same goal. Knowing you’re always in the loop gives a feeling of security and improves trust between the workforce and management.
If people don’t know what’s going on, assumptions and prejudices join together to make their own truths and before you know it everyone is up in arms over something that doesn’t even exist.
As a leader or manager of change, you need to know the order of importance in your change process. Naturally you have to know and implement your change process in the right order otherwise steps are missed and confusion reigns, but during any change management project there will always be push back on elements. Knowing your priorities will give you leeway to negotiate. The must-haves are sacrosanct but by being able to give a little on your nice-to-haves, you create an atmosphere of collaboration rather than confrontation.
4. Paint the bigger picture
Knowing what your company stands for, how you as an employee share some of the same values and what your common goals are, is a really powerful foundation for managing change.
If a company is really good at communicating its brand purpose, and if its employees really do share the same values, then any process of change won’t just go in the right direction, it should bring the employees with it.
Equally, if the change looks like it’s going to be completely out of character for the organisation, you might want to go back to step one and figure out just why it looks so out of kilter.
5. Keep on keeping on
Perhaps one of the hardest tasks for the fleet manager is perseverance. Any change management programme is going to have several moving parts, take time, cause disruption – and at least some dissent.
At any point it can seem like you will be banging your head against a brick wall, but if you have gone through all the steps, prioritised, sense-checked the process against the rest of the company, brand purpose, end goals and it all seems right, the only option then is to get it done.
Change requires empathy, trust and communication. Managers who use these ‘soft skills’ to maintain open channels with their employees year-round should naturally enjoy a smoother ride when it comes to change than those whose relationships have a combative undercurrent.