Change management goes beyond a production engineering vision
Change management in the industrial sector is mainly about production engineering aspects, and adjustments to the supply chain. In recent years, implementing important changes has become more topical due to the economic crisis, as companies aim to cut costs. Sixty to seventy percent of these processes fail, however.
There is a danger that the focus in industrial change processes is virtually only on technical aspects that arise from a product engineering perspective. “I see that change management primarily arises from a technical perspective. The desire to implement change management is largely created by the wish to increase ROI (Return on Investment). But one should really consider the impact of such a process on the organisation, the staff and the individual.”
A small head and large hands and eyes
Successful change management can only work if the employees believe in it themselves, and are not worried about losing their jobs. In many cases, temporary consultants enter the company to monitor the process, and leave again after the change has been implemented. It then often happens that the employees soon revert to the old habits once the temporary consultants have disappeared.
“In the West, we often create changes from an ivory tower. The management always assumes that the employees will see the necessity of the change. But these transformations are often difficult for employees, and they often don't come to terms with the changes. Here in the West, changes are made with the head, through the intellect. I often call this a big head and small eyes and hands. While in Japan they have a small head and large hands and eyes, as we call it. This is why, at Stanwick, we always work with sixty percent engineers and forty percent organisational experts and psychologists, who have an impact on the process."
Following suit quickly
Changes in the workplace should be made clear from the very start of the process, including information regarding any redundancies. After that, it is a matter of actually getting the employees behind your initiative.
“It always seems to be difficult to communicate the necessity. Change management is really jumping in at the deep end. You may consider the Maslow pyramid (the hierarchy of needs at five different levels). This pyramid includes social needs. In the event of major changes, employees have the feeling that they are losing their environment and their colleagues. Executives should handle this at a social level. Managers should quickly follow suit, and outline a clear vision and picture of the future. This means: the right discussions at the right time, including those with employees who are finding it difficult to cope with the changes. The executive should be open to his people, and find out how he or she could support the employees.”