Applying Change Management Principles to The Every Day: Moving Offices

It is commonly accepted that a hallmark of the 21st century is unapologetic and insuppressible change. It is now widely accepted that change is a constant and prevalent feature of our working lives and what is widely considered to be an indisputable, immutable fact one day is a throw away ‘remember when we used to think…’ comment the next. Such relentless disruption naturally causes pressure, discomfort, fear and suspicion. It is somewhat axiomatic to say that leaders need to purposefully work harder to instil a sense of trust, confidence and resilience within their charges, especially during periods of business transformation. Positive attitudes and agile mindsets are key to effective change management… but how does one go about cultivating these, and are they needed for smaller, more mundane, everyday incidents like switching stationary suppliers, implementing a new software system or introducing a new internal policy?

Dale Carnegie London recently had the opportunity to test our expertise in this area and answer some of the above hypothetical questions for ourselves, when a need for some effective internal change management presented itself. This came in the form of an office relocation and, naturally, we opted to exercise the Dale Carnegie Training Model of Change Management. This is how we did it.

Step 1: Motivation for Change
Following a period of rapid expansion and business growth, Dale Carnegie London had begun to notice that our current environment was no longer adequate for the operational and strategic demands upon the business. Whilst happy with the location we were in, the amount of office space available had grown to be insufficient and unconducive to the type of working environment we wanted our team working within. Collectively, the team discussed and agreed that the time had come to move to new, more appropriate and more comfortable office dwellings that could accommodate the burgeoning team and our ambitions for the future. This would allow us to continue to progress the business, uninhibited by logistical limitations, and to further foster a climate of productivity and success.

Step 2: Analyse the Situation
The next stage was to undertake a thorough analysis of the risks and opportunities associated to the proposed move. We completed a comprehensive SWOT analysis of the situation, identifying all of the costs vs rewards, the pros and cons surrounding our decision, and explored how we could mitigate against the negative elements. The team also emphasised the plus points (more space, greater convenience of location, better facilities etc), to enhance the collective motivation that would drive this initiative forward.

Step 3: Plan the Direction
Knowing that this would affect every team member, it was important to gain buy-in from the very start. At every stage the whole team were involved in discussions and their ideas and contributions solicited to ensure this was a collaborative process. This fostered a climate of co-creation and engagement, and helped make the transition so much easier due to reduced reluctance or push-back. Together we therefore set about planning a strategy that would help us make the desired move in a very smooth, seamless and sensible way, where everyone was invested in and committed to both the process and the outcome. Important to consider when planning our route forward here was:

  1. What the impact on each team member would be and how they would be affected.
  2. How this would impact day to day operations both in the interim and the long term
  3. Attaining a group agreement on a step-by-step plan of attack on how we would approach this move and the key milestones to work toward
  4. A review plan to measure progress and ensure team satisfaction at every stage

This enabled us to create a simple yet effective plan that included desk research on suitable premises, office tours for the team members, a group discussion on the practicalities of each venue (and elimination of any that failed our acid-test), a statement of preference from each team member and finally, a group vote for the most favoured office.

Step 4: Implement the Change
Once we had come to a majority decision, and all team members were happy with the outcome, we could begin with the logistical task of relocating to new premises. This was spread-out over a four-week period, with every team member assigned an area of responsibility and an agreed upon timetable to ensure successful completion by the deadline date. This including contracting with new office providers, serving notice on existing premises, securing removal services, planning new office layout, purchasing furniture, packing and recording all inventory and so on. A focus on the benefits of the move and reinforcing positive attitudes amongst the team was critical at this stage.

Step 5: Review the Direction
A series of review meetings, from initial discussion to post-completion, were arranged to discuss progress at each stage and to air thoughts and feelings around this transition. We were keen to monitor the effects this change would have on both engagement and performance, and the benchmarks we established to measure these factors have all returned positive results at every stage. Our online partner, Winningtemp, was also instrumental in gauging colleague reaction to this initiative, giving a true insight into the situation through anonymous feedback.

Step 6: Adapt and Adjust
To date, our decision to move offices remains enormously popular and it is unanimously held that 1. It was the right thing to do, and 2. We made the best decision in office choice. The team now have a comfortable and well-provisioned working environment that befits the direct needs of performing their day-to-day jobs, offers the space and flexibility to support each individuals’ best way of working, and contributes to a happy, healthy and productive workplace culture. By using the Dale Carnegie Model of Change Management, we were able to effectively achieve our goal and keep the team onboard and on-point from start to finish.

By following this simple six-stage process, we were able to take a situation usually characterised by great disruption and inconvenience, one that often stretches people’s patience, and turn it into a positive, culturally-reinforcing exercise that enabled a win-win outcome for all, further galvanising the sense of camaraderie along the way. Careful and collaborative management of this important step forward for the business, allowed the whole team to buy-into and get behind the change, from inception to completion, and to take ownership over key elements of the process further deepening their investment in the outcome. We do, after all, support a world that we help create.

Pete Burbidge is the Marketing Manager for Dale Carnegie London. As well as being responsible for co-ordinating all their marketing activities, he is also a digital producer for online events and a team leader on the Dale Carnegie Course.