Change conjures up a raft of expressions in the workplace, for example “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” or “If we stop making change we will be going backwards”, or “we have changed everything and there is nothing left to change”. However, in the real world change is inevitable despite reading in the newspapers almost daily about groups of workers from many walks rejecting change.
There are few monopolies left and that means that the vast majority of organisations have to compete for business. Winning criteria could vary significantly depending on circumstances so it could be: quality, price, delivery time, product presentation, customisation and so on. Change can, therefore, affect many parts and activities in an organisation. Change is not always about getting fewer people to do more.
Improving quality by adopting ‘right first time’ activities avoids rework and customer rejections and reduces costs so issues such as sourcing defect-free supplies, training staff to work competently and follow instructions and fully understanding customer needs should reduce costs and improve productivity and performance. This in turn may enable the organisation to lower selling prices while maintaining good margins. Another great way of making change is to send a group of workers to visit the customer and learn how the products or services supplied are used. Experience tells me that the group of workers will return to their organisation with many ideas on how to improve performance to improve customer satisfaction – and if that doesn’t win further business, I don’t know what will! Finally change sometimes is just about learning more about what you do by measuring a range of events with a view to eliminating what goes wrong and doing more of what works well and then trying to do a little better all of the time (known in fancy management jargon as ‘continuous improvement’).
A final thought. If change is to be successful, all parties need to see a benefit. That benefit may not be immediate but immediate understanding is necessary. Children learn early in life ‘to give to get’. Well that approach usually sticks throughout life, with the result that most sensible people will recognise that change is more often good than bad.
Dr Hugh Billot
HR GO Group of Recruitment Companies
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