1. What is Change Management?
Change management is a systematic process dedicated to dealing with organizational transition and change. Change in an organization’s goals, core service offerings, processes, or technologies requires an implementation strategy.
Change management is the initiative enterprises undertake to successfully implement the strategies and methods needed to effect change and help everyone across the organization accept and adopt the change.
2. When is Change Management Needed?
Your organization may need to employ change management for a number of different reasons. The scale of the change management strategy will largely depend on the reason behind it, some transitions or changes may require less than others.
Common instances requiring change management in an organization include:
- Implementation of new technology, process, etc.
- Mergers & acquisitions
- Change in leadership
- Change in organizational culture
- Times of a crisis
Your change management strategy will be tailored to the needs of the situation. However, there are a few things that are considered best practices in change management and should always be included in your strategy.
3. Change Management Challenges & Best Practices
The first thing to tackle in your change management strategy is the why behind the necessity of the change. It is crucial that everyone involved understands what the objectives are, why the organization needs the change as well as its impact on the company and employees.
Most people are resistant to change and might not be able to clearly see why the change is needed or beneficial. Highlighting the negative impact of not making the change may prove helpful in getting everyone on board and feeling confident about the upcoming transitional period.
Then, you will need to devise a plan and prepare the necessary resources for the implementation of the change. Your strategy should clearly establish the steps for transforming individuals, systems, and processes in a structured approach.
Naturally, you are bound to encounter challenges and roadblocks during the change management process.
The most common challenges organizations face when undergoing change management are:
- timeline – misalignment
- lack planning
- poor communication
Throughout the process, you will want to ensure that you are following the best practices listed below to prepare for any possible obstacles.
3.2. Best Practices
Best practice 1: Active and visible executive support
The greatest contributor to success is having a positive leadership that actively guides the enterprise through change and participates visibly throughout the change lifecycle.
Active and visible executive sponsorship means leadership explicitly supports the change and gives consistent attention to it.
Leaders of the organization should lead and motivate others by championing the change and making effective and influential decisions. The more visibly engaged and supportive leadership is the more the likelihood of meeting objectives increases.
Leaders should maintain direct communication with the project management and change management teams, remain accessible during the change, and influence peers to maintain buy-in and participate in a coalition of sponsorship.
Best practice 2: Transparency
Gaining employees’ trust will help you tremendously in a situation of change. Yet, more than 30% of employees report they feel their employer is not always honest and truthful. Therefore, being transparent and honest with your organization is crucial for a successful transition.
As mentioned above, most employees aren’t comfortable with change and will likely resist it. Being 100% honest about each step of the change management process is a great way to counter resistance and build trust and connections with workers.
Best practice 3: Communication
A survey found that only 40% of front-line managers understood the purpose of organizational change. Thus, clear and frequent communication is perhaps the most important aspect of the change management process. You will want to make sure that communications regarding the change are clear, consistent and transparent.
Additionally, you will need to evaluate which channels to use for effective communication.
Important topics to communicate include:
- The reason for the change that is happening
- Expectations from the organization
- Long-term plan perspectives
- The impact of the change on employees
- Essential business drivers
Best practice 4: Training
Following suit is employee training. Consistent training will provide reassurance as well as giving employees time to adapt to new practices.
Proper training of employees and managers is a way to support workers throughout the change. Moreover, employing this best practice will help fasten the overall change management process and ease arising and existing concerns.
Best practice 5: Listening and Engaging
When it comes to fostering engagement and communication, you shouldn’t be the only one talking. Ask for feedback and pay attention to what your workers have to say. Allow them to lead discussions in which employees can ask questions, make comments, and offer suggestions for improvement.
Change management is applied to help employees understand why change is necessary and to equip them for the transition successfully. Given this objective, it is logical that employee engagement and participation are identified as a top contributor to success.
Employee engagement tactics include:
- Highlighting what’s in it for them in change management communications
- Identifying and building relationships with impacted employees and teams
- Providing impacted groups with the appropriate level of training
- Involving employees in identifying proposed solutions
Change management doesn’t end immediately after the change is implemented. On the contrary, the implementation is merely the midpoint. Once things are underway, you will want to perform some type of impact analysis and collect post-implementation feedback. The purpose of doing this “follow-up” work is to ensure that the change will remain successful long-term.
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