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Change Management - Kotter

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You understand that there will be a significant change in the way the company does business, implementing what you see as a change in the culture of the company. Employees understand aspects of accessible customer service and physical changes in retail locations, but there is less knowledge around issues of “digital accessibility.” Physical changes at the company’s retail locations, include: ramps connecting floor levels within stores, elevators where stairs are used to move between levels and checkout counters that accommodate wheelchair users. Accommodation for accessibility of physical spaces is less likely to require change in the company’s processes, but digital accessibility quite likely will. It will also involve changes in employee behaviour. To counter any resistance to the changes that will be needed, you decide to educate yourself on change management. You gather all the information you need for forming arguments that you can use to convince your colleagues, leveraging the business arguments for implementing digital accessibility: these changes are something the company “wants to do” rather than “has to do,” and these changes are good for the company. So far in this book you have experienced the “business case” for digital accessibility, and you have also been exposed to the legislative reasons behind it. Research suggests that companies who embrace a culture of accessibility are more successful/profitable. However, acceptance of this culture isn’t necessarily easy. One key issue you might experience in fostering a culture of accessibility is "resistance to change" from some of your employees/colleagues. They may wonder why dedicating resources (people, time, money) to implementing digital accessibility is important and how it will affect them. For more on diversity, see: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/why-diversity-matters. People resist change for a number of reasons, most notably, due to fear of the unknown. Not knowing how the change will affect them directly (and to a smaller extent how it affects the company) will cause a number of employees to not readily or willingly accept (at least initially) the proposed changes. Linked with this is the fear of breaking routines, both in how people do their jobs and how it affects their life in general (hours, travel, and technology, etc.). Resistance to change can occur when workers and management do not agree with the reasons for the change and the advantages and disadvantages of the change process. Some reasons for resisting change include: • Self-interest, which can occur when people are more concerned with the implication of the change for themselves, rather than considering the effects for the company’s success. • Misunderstanding, because the purpose of the change has not been communicated effectively or has been interpreted differently. • Low tolerance to change, because workers prefer having security and stability in their work. Experience (and research) suggests that the best strategies for minimizing resistance to change is to communicate more effectively, to help people develop the skills/knowledge to handle the proposed changes, and to involve them in designing the changes to be implemented. In this section, you will gain an understanding of some of the reasons why people may resist change which you may encounter in your organization and how to overcome them. Change is difficult. The more prepared you are to deal with resistance, the better your chances for success in implementing the changes required. Watch this video outlining seven key strategies for overcoming resistance: [Video #3: Seven Strategies for Overcoming Resistance to Change] Caption: © Forward Focus. All rights reserved. Seven strategies for overcoming change in the workplace: 1. Structure the team to maximize its potential. 2. Set challenging, achievable, and engaging targets. 3. Resolve conflicts quickly and effectively. 4. Show passion. 5. Be persuasive. 6. Empower innovation and creativity. 7. Remain positive and supportive. Further Reading: The Top 12 Typical Reasons for Resistance to Change [https://www.torbenrick.eu/blog/change-management/12-reasons-why-people-resist-change/] Taxis vs Uber: A Perfect Example of Resistance to Change [https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/taxis-vs-uber-perfect-example-resistance-change-1463787] Instilling digital accessibility culture throughout an organization is likely going to involve change, change that may meet with some resistance. [Image: dilbert_change_management. Caption: Source: Andrews McMeel Syndication] Change can be uncomfortable, and for processes and practices that are ingrained in an organization over many years, it can be very difficult to upset this “status quo.” Depending on the scope of changes that must occur, preparing for change may be critical to successfully implementing a digital accessibility plan. It is helpful to have a framework from which to manage the changes that will occur as digital accessibility is being implemented throughout an organization. But which model or framework should you use to help implement a successful accessibility plan? Change management books will introduce you to many models that may fit with your company culture and work processes. To give you a couple of samples of proven change models, we will use Kotter’s eight-step model in this section and Lewin’s three- step change model in the next. Both have many loyal followers and can help you think about how to start moving towards your new digital accessibility plan. Whichever model works best for you, it is important to remember that all of the steps must be followed in order for the model to be effective. Dr. John P. Kotter at the Harvard Business School, devised the “Eight-Step Process for Leading Change”, which consists of eight stages: 1. Create Urgency 2. Form a Powerful Coalition 3. Create a Vision for Change 4. Communicate the Vision 5. Remove Obstacles 6. Create Short-Term Wins 7. Build on the Change 8. Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture. Using Kotter’s process, you imagine the pieces of your growing plan fitting into his framework as a way to optimize the strategies and ensure that your hard work pays off for the company. 1. Create Urgency: The obvious element of urgency in your company’s case is the complaint and the suggestion by the customer that legal action may be taken if the company does not show active movement toward resolving the accessibility issues with the online store. In addition, you may also argue that the market of people with disabilities is a large one, and the company is currently missing out on a good portion of this market, even sending potential customers to the competition. There is an opportunity to capture a growing market of older people with disabilities, many of whom are baby boomers who have reached a stage in their lives where they are losing their sight or hearing, and may not be as mobile as they used to be. Most of all you need buy-in from senior people in the company. The business arguments discussed in Module One, carefully crafted to highlight the benefits to the company, can go a long way to convincing those who will ultimately determine whether a shift in the business culture has a chance of success or not. In the case of the Sharp Clothing Company, the threat of a lawsuit is a strong motivator for senior management, though ideally other business arguments should help lead to change before it reaches the point of legal action. 2. Form a Powerful Coalition: The accessibility committee you have established fills this step of the process, gathering leaders and knowledgeable staff, including those who may need accessibility accommodations, from across the company. This group of people will help define acceptable practices for the company by its actions. 3. Create a Vision for Change: Understanding that many people will resist change, they want/need to understand where the company is heading. Articulating a clear vision for the company as to how the company wants to be seen and recognized with respect to accessibility is key here. The accessibility committee’s plan — including steps to build awareness, develop training, communicate guidelines, monitor accessibility quality assurance, adjust procurement processes, review hiring practice, and consolidate these in a digital accessibility policy for the company — meets the objectives of this step. 4. Communicate the Vision: Through the newsletter campaign, strategically placed posters, training opportunities, a series of guidelines tailored to particular roles, and the involvement of people from across the company, you will communicate the company’s move towards creating an inclusive business. This does require a highly coordinated and planned communication strategy that must be consistently applied by the change team. 5. Remove Obstacles: You decide to make the accessibility committee meetings open, so anyone who wants to attend may do so. You also decide to set up a virtual “suggestion box,” positioned prominently on the company’s employee web portal. There employees are encouraged to suggest improvements or identify where accessibility issues occur. Since most employees like to have a say in how things get done, take time to give them the opportunity to try ideas that are in alignment with the vision and strategies. 6. Create Short-Term Wins: The accessibility committee has come up with the idea of highlighting accessibility accomplishments in the quarterly newsletter and on the company’s main websites. Once per year, all the accessibility related projects or suggestions would be gathered for the whole company to vote upon, with the winner receiving a weekend for two at a local hotel and spa. The reason short term wins are important is that they not only make the participants feel good about accomplishing something, but it also then gives them the momentum to move onto the next step or phase. By having one large undefined project, employees may give up if they can’t see the finish line ahead of them. 7. Build on the Change. Through the wins that have been gathered, the submitters or implementers of more significant ones are given an opportunity to show off their accomplishments. Presentations are recorded and posted to the employee portal for all to see. Links to the videos are included in the quarterly newsletter. Acknowledging the accomplishments and those responsible for them acts as an important feedback mechanism and form of appreciation from the change team. 8. Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture: With much of the accessibility plan in place, your plan is to formalize all of these elements into a company Digital Accessibility Policy. Culture defines what is acceptable behaviour or not, and the goal here is to make sure that your policy becomes part of your company culture and what your company values.