Background: the 4 x 4 plan
Gradwell has been undergoing a period of change for some time. We have been replacing our IT infrastructure (new servers, storage and networking) and introducing a new Parallels hosting system amongst other things. From a People perspective, we have also had to introduce new operational structures internally and reorganise existing structures to support the provision of the necessary services and support to our customers.
These activities have taken place in order to facilitate our 4 x 4 growth plan (to grow four times in four years). This plan is not just about being a more profitable business (which we obviously want to be), but is about providing products and services that meets our customers’ needs and securing the jobs of our current team. In addition, a strong Gradwell will create wealth and employment in the longer term for the city of Bath and the surrounding areas.
Most organisations over 10 years old have little resemblance to how they looked 5 years ago and Gradwell (now in our 14th year) is no different. The role of HR and the wider Senior Management Team (SMT) in this ever changing environment is to introduce and manage the changes that affect our people whilst ensuring that organisational objectives are met. In order to be successful, we must have the commitment of our people both before and after the implementation. So what can the SMT of a company like Gradwell do to ensure the successful implementation of change?
I would like to share our three most important considerations in the implementation of our changes.
Firstly, it was very important to understand the need for new structures before introducing them. We recognised that poor communication of the need for a particular change can affect the success of the change. Our MD, Peter Gradwell holds a company-wide monthly update which informs all staff of the progress being made by each department followed by a Q & A session. Peter is also very enthusiastic about knowledge and experience sharing and emails the team any new information he has acquired at industry and trade events. A lack of communication within an organisation can be an inhibitor to effective change and we have made a conscious effort to keep everyone in our team as informed as possible.
Secondly, we have also recognised that effective leadership is key to the implementation of change. The leader provides the company vision and the rationale for change. Peter Gradwell is a very hands-on leader: from leading the infrastructure upgrade in Telehouse to ensuring that there is enough cutlery in the office kitchen, he is constantly available to discuss what we do and how we do it.
The third important element to successful change management is to ensure that the teams involved have appropriate and timely training. This can be internal or external or a combination of both. In all good workplaces there should be a high level of knowledge sharing, reducing the need for external; training, however, there is often the need to utilise external resources. A judgement will need to be taken as to what the most effective route should be.
However, no matter how well thought out the implementation of change can be, it is wise to remember that resistance to change can occur, and it can do so in two forms:
- Resistance to the content of change – in our case, it could relate to new technology or the introduction of a new policy or reward system or
- Resistance to the process of change i.e. concerning the way it is introduced.
Management must be aware of this in order to respond appropriately. The reasons for resistance are varied and there is no single solution on how to deal with it. However, if an organisation can show good communication, strong leadership and train their staff appropriately, the likelihood of resistance will be reduced. The goal is to ensure that our people stay motivated and productive in order to maintain business continuity while they are working in a changing environment.
Times of change can be times of great worry and uncertainty for both management and the wider team. However, with strong team spirit and a desire to be the best at what we do, the bumpy road can be made smoother.