As Simon Kaufman from Fides wrote for an article in The Global Treasurer last year, the importance of change management is becoming more evident than ever. Driven by factors such as risk management, everchanging regulation, a desire to be more innovative and remain competitive, as well as the need to increase efficiency and reduce the administrative burden, the transformation of treasury teams is inevitable.
And this is good news for treasurers. As more treasurers effectively manage transformation within their organisations, the strategic importance of the treasury role will continue to elevate, ultimately resulting in better visibility, better pay, and more executive level positions. And that’s a change we should all support.
However, to drive change, whether it’s a technology-driven evolution, a shift of people’s roles or a complete restructure, one of the most important elements of any change programme is the cultural side. After all, without the very people who you depend on joining you on the transformation journey, you’ll fall at the first hurdle.
So how do you manage the culture of change within your team? Here are 21 top tips gathered from treasurers, change management experts and HR practitioners to help you.
Preparation, planning and beginning transformation
- Plan change and engage people early by explaining the positives of the journey and the benefits of the change, including the end goals – not only will this better enable communication, it will encourage people to share ideas and make them feel like part of the process too.
- Don’t get bogged down in the practicalities early on in the transformation process – the cultural change element is just as important as getting the technical side right and the two must run concurrently.
- The big, burning question most employees have is ‘what’s in it for me?’ So, find out what motivates people in order to be able to sell the benefits of change. It’s important to note here that it’s not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer – one person might love the ability to work from home, another might share a flat with five other people who work from home or have a new baby that would prevent them from doing so.
- Give employees an element of choice so they can make selections based on their personal preferences. For example, let people choose their device options, laptop, smartphone, tablet etc. – from a list of devices/solutions that fit in with your plans, of course. It’s no longer good enough for IT to thrust equipment on people.
- Help people to create an identity and find their purpose in the transformation process. A good example is the ‘I am’ tactic used as part of the transformation process in Parliament. Essentially, a ‘golden thread’ was created around which people could anchor themselves on the journey, provide a story about what’s important to them and focus on the benefits they could deliver through change.
- Encouraging people to find their anchor in the journey will provide people with the feeling that they belong in the process and help them understand the why and how elements of evolution. It drives acceptance of change.
- People all too often have a mental block with technology, especially when it’s talked about using technical terminology. Therefore, take time to show people the different types of technology and what it can enable. This will help people to understand how tech can help them, which in turn starts to drive transformation from within. It can also break down silos. Show progress, but don’t get bogged down by stats.
Embrace everyday tech
- In everyday life people use Amazon for online shopping, Ocado for groceries, online banking and Uber to get home etc. These firms are digital disruptors because they make life easier and consumers choose to work with them. By getting employees to adopt tools and behaviours that they use outside of work in their professional lives it will make transformation easier and, potentially, faster.
- The office is often a sense of identity for many, a social space, and they enjoy the interaction, so leverage this. Build a community around transformation by involving people, generating discussion and building a buzz. This will develop deeper collaboration too. Giving people a choice, as mentioned above, is a great starting point.
Slow down to speed up
- Time is a commodity, so invest in it. Don’t be afraid to take time to get the foundations right and don’t set impossible targets. Transformation is about evolution over time, not one big revolution in one go.
- You may have a big vision, but small gradual steps over time is required. Take time to understand what you’re changing at the outset and you’ll likely be able to accelerate transformation later in the process.
- Take a step back from the immediate process to find out what skills already exist within organisations and where gaps exist. Invest in digital skills training and knowledge training early – through ‘digital champions’ if you think it’s appropriate – and you’ll reap the rewards later.
- Recognise and reward milestones so that people can see what’s happening and the improvements being made. Shout about the achievements made.
- Pause to recognise success and allow time to re-evaluate progress. This time will be invaluable later on in the transformation journey.
- Recognising that feelings and emotions will be the norm during change and transformation is crucial to getting the cultural side right. Change can bring people together, if they have common goals and all feel like they’re in the same position at the same time – and they’re working in the same direction.
- Communicate that it’s ok to feel like this, and that you will support people through it – it might be hard, but you will get through it!
- Finding out what people are afraid of losing or letting go of, and explaining why it’s necessary, is often easier than telling people what they’ll gain. Build acceptance that change is going to happen but that their ‘losses’ have been accounted for will build trust and get people behind you.
- As a leader, accept that you will need to be resilient! If you want to make enemies, try to change something!
- It is possible to create energy around change by why it needs to happen, selling the benefits, explaining compliance needs or sharing fundamental business needs. This provides a purpose.
- Change is unrelenting and does demand persistence and resilience. Leaders will require energy to see transformation through. This may involve bringing in external partners to help take the strain.
- We have to step away from overbearing KPIs. Transformation efforts often can’t be measured – how can you put a figure on the cultural side of change? You can’t, so don’t try to as it’ll only stifle efforts.