Six Areas to Focus on for Your Change Effort
We are living in a time of hyper-change. It is more crucial now than ever that you are taking concrete steps to ensure your change will get accomplished. You can’t control environmental factors that can damage your change effort, but you can gain control of the internal factors.
Change management is a structured approach to transitioning people, teams, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state. We like to think of this as a “journey” because conditions are different each time, and often change along the way.
If you are evolving or transforming your business strategy, implementing a new technology system, attempting to change your organization’s culture, or building a high-performance team –we can help you.
Our proven approach helps you organize, plan, and guide your team along its journey. It identifies numerous stages of the journey that we will encounter and applies a proven approach to avoiding potential pitfalls. Although the path is not known or predictable at the beginning, careful planning and navigation are essential to ensure all the elements (people, technology, process, and management) arrive at the right place at the right time.
Engage Sponsors & Influencers
The first step is to identify your sponsors and review their expectations of the project team (and their definition of success). The importance of ensuring that your sponsor is 100% dedicated to change effort cannot be stressed enough. If your sponsor refuses to buy-in, you can’t expect the rest of your team to fall in line.
Your influencers will also be vital in ensuring a successful change effort. They will provide valuable insight to the project team and influence the development and implementation of change management activities. They will often have the power to persuade and influence other workers that the Sponsors may struggle to reach at times.
Communicate with Stakeholders
When communicating with stakeholders, you can default to five simple questions:
- What are we doing?
- Why is it important?
- What results are we after?
- How will we accomplish this?
- What’s in it for me?
These questions will help guide you in the right direction when it comes time to get across the most important messages to your Stakeholders.
Manage Change Risk & Readiness
With all changes comes risk. It is up to the change team to document and recognize areas that could inhibit a successful implementation. One great exercise to start with is to list out all the possible risks you can think of concerning the change effort. Then identify the probability of the risk occurring and how critical the risk is to the success of the project. These two factors will determine the impact the risk can have on the change. Make sure these risks are assigned to individuals so that they will feel a heightened sense of responsibility and actively work to mitigate the risk throughout the process.
Align the Organization
The first step to aligning the organization with the change effort is to understand the business process hierarchy and scope. Document the process from value stream processing to the individual process steps at the lowest levels. Not all areas will be affected equally, but they may still need to be aware of the change. Identifying how much each section needs to be involved will save time and reduce confusion across the board when done appropriately.
How will you train stakeholders so that the change goes smoothly? We can start by assessing the training needs of the relevant staff and team members. Questions to ask before training include:
- What is the overall scope of the implementation?
- How many end-users will need training?
- What training is offered or most common?
- What facilities currently exist for training purposes?
- Who will manage, schedule, create, and implement the training?
- What does your technology capacity look like for training purposes?
Again, these questions will push you in the right direction but are not a complete list of all training needs to be considered. Every project requires different training needs regardless of how similar it may be to the last.
Sustain the Change
One of the best ways to sustain the desired change is to develop and implement a rewards/recognition program. Using positive reinforcement to encourage team members, whether it be with pizza parties or more break time, feelings can change. Negative reinforcement can be useful when appropriately executed but should be a last resort as it can harm team happiness. Mixing and matching of company programs to sustain the change will differ by division and person, but it is possible.
Managing change is hard. If it were easy than the companies that dominated the early years of the industrial revolution like Ford, DuPont, and Slater Mill would be the Google, Amazon, or Apple of our time. But they are not.
The main point is they may have attempted to change to the market’s demands, but even the companies with the greatest assets and power can fail to capture change. With the help of a concrete change management framework, the chances of standing the test of time can substantially increase your company’s chances of triumph (regardless of how you feel about any change).