Last month, we shared a high-level overview of what change management is, its significance in the food industry, and why it’s important for food safety professionals to integrate it into food safety management. This post will briefly explain some steps and best practices that can be implemented by food safety leaders.
Create an Awareness
Before a change is implemented, it’s important to create an awareness about the change by educating employees. Food safety team leaders and supervisors could either engage their teams in formal training programs or host informal discussions through team meetings. Key talking points should include why it’s important for the business to implement the change, how the change would directly impact the team (such as changes to roles and responsibilities), and what the desired outcome would look like. For example, if an organization will begin printing QR codes on its packaged products, employees need to understand why this change is important to the business. Avoid jargon and use simplified terms to cover the basics, such as what a QR code is, how it works, and how it supports employees and customers. Good storytelling not only helps employees see the bigger picture, it also gains their buy in.
Create a Transition Strategy
The late William Bridges, a respected organizational consultant, described the essence of change management perfectly: “Change is situational. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological.” Although organizational change is an external event, individuals involved undergo a transition in their behaviors, attitudes, and perspectives. Using a human-centric approach to change management is what makes the change successful.
As a food safety leader, it’s beneficial to blend your technical skills and understanding of the organization’s culture to help employees through their transition. In addition, practice self-awareness: Being aware of how you as a leader respond to the change, and how you transition through the change itself, will enable you to remain centered and available to support your employees.
Encourage Employee Feedback
An effective way of communicating change is to create a safe space that encourages open dialogue. When employees have resources that enable them to process the change, reflect on the transition process, and share their feedback, they are empowered to share their observations and ideas.
Collecting employee feedback through organization-wide surveys or team-specific focus groups will enable leaders to assess not only how well the change is being implemented, but also if the implementation is working effectively. Sharing employee feedback between teams and within the organization is a healthy way to demonstrate transparency within the company.
Include Remote Team Members
If you’re managing remote team members, ensure that your change management strategy is relevant to them as well. Some businesses try to roll out a “virtual version” of the change management strategy that was designed for the employees who work on-site. Remote team members may require more frequent check-ins both individually and as a team. Use online collaboration tools such as SharePoint, Slack, and Trello to track project statuses and gather feedback.
Are you currently leading or a part of a change initiative? What are some of your own success stories on change in your organization? Include them in your comment below.