AT A GLANCE
- The ultimate success of a project depends on how effectively individuals adopt a new way of working.
- Change management is is a methodology, which increases the probability of success of any organizational initiative.
- Regardless of the change methodology you choose, you will have to go through three transformational phases.
Whether you are going through a business transformation or implementing a new procurement management system, your success ultimately depends on employees doing their jobs differently. After all, a perfectly-designed project that no one follows or an automated process that no one uses wıll not have an impact on your bottom line. If, however, you can make individuals adopt the new way of working, then you can start seeing a significant difference.
The senior management -rightfully so- places great emphasis on projects being on time and budget. However, organizations deploy projects as a reaction to a specific problem or an opportunity. That means the purpose of any project is to change the status quo. By the same logic, a project’s success depends on how effectively you realize the intended transformation. That’s where change management comes into play.
WHAT IS CHANGE MANAGEMENT?
The leadership guru John Maxwell once said, “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” That is particularly true in an organizational setting. Almost all outcomes of a project are linked to people changing how they work.
“Almost all outcomes of a project are linked to people changing how they work.”
For instance, when you introduce a new system, you don’t only want your employees to adopt it quickly. You also want as many people as possible to use it, while performing better than before. In other words, the speed of adoption, ultimate utilization, and proficiency dictate the ROI of your project. Those are all related to the people side of change.
Change management is the process, tools, and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve the required business outcome. It is a methodology, which increases the probability of success of any organizational initiative.
Any change -even a change for a better future- is always accompanied by some discomforts. Consequently, you can expect a natural decline in productivity and an inevitable increase in resistance with every change. Change management allows a company to plan for the former while manage the latter.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Similar to project management, there exist different change management methodologies. You might have heard of Lewin’s change management model, Kübler-Ross’ change curve, the McKinsey 7-S Model, or Bridges’ transition model. While each has its own merits, they also have commonalities.
Like the famous line from Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Regardless of the change methodology you choose, you will have to go through three archetypal phases: preparing for change, managing change, and reinforcing change. We find PROSCI’s description to be the most understandable.
“Regardless of the change methodology you choose, you will have to go through three archetypal phases: preparing for change, managing change, and reinforcing change.”
PHASE 1 — PREPARING FOR CHANGE
Before you embark on a change management journey, you need to go through a “getting-ready” period. Your first task should be to develop a customized and scaled approach. Sun Tzu once argued, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” His wisdom should be your maxim for the first phase.
During the preparation phase, there are three main tasks: defining your change management strategy, preparing your change management team, and developing your sponsorship model. You must assess the scope of the change, your organization’s readiness, and the state of your sponsorship. As stated above, resistance is inevitable. So, anticipating key resistance areas is crucial. Finally, if need be, you should acquire resources, strengthening your change management team.
PHASE 2 — MANAGING CHANGE
Armed with critical knowledge, you are now ready to design organizational change management plans and individual change management activities. Your objective is to move your organization through change.
Arguably the most critical aspect of change management is effective communications. Therefore, you should create a communication plan to identify the audiences, key messages, timing, and delivery method.
Supervisors and managers will play a vital role in the change management program. That’s why it is critical for the change management team and executive sponsors to support supervisors. As a part of your planning, you must prepare a coaching strategy, providing training sessions.
Like communication, sponsorship is one of the most important success factors — sponsorship in walls active and visible participation by senior business leaders throughout the process. Accordingly, you must also develop a plan for sponsorship activities and help keep business leaders carry out these plans.
Finally, while resistance is normal and expected, persistent resistance can threaten a project. Therefore, you must understand the cause of resistance and plan a way to address it.
PHASE 3 — REINFORCING CHANGE
In phase 1, you assessed the situation. In phase 2, you planned thoroughly and executed your change management activities. Phase 3 is where you learn if your efforts are working. One of the biggest mistakes is not completing this third phase.
Reinforcing change is about assessing the change management activities’ results and — if necessary- implementing corrective actions. That requires proactively collecting feedback and listening to employees. Also, it would help if you audited compliance with the new way of doing things.
Identifying gaps resistance and pockets of resistance is important. Don’t focus on the symptom; try to find the root cause. Continue asking, “Why is this still happening?” Once you identify the problem, developing corrective action plans.
On the bright side, you must also celebrate success. Identify early achievements and make them public. Your final task should be to prepare an after-action review. It’s at this point that you can stand back and evaluate successes and failures. Ask yourself, “What worked? What did not? Which lessons have we learned?”
“Efficiency is a matter of doing things right; effectiveness is a matter of doing the right things.”
The business world tends to value efficiency over effectiveness — sometimes even to the extreme. But, to paraphrase Russ Ackoff, “Efficiency is a matter of doing things right; effectiveness is a matter of doing the right things.” Project management will allow your employees to do things right. With the help of change management, you can make sure that they are doing the right things right.
October 5, 2020