The Change Management practice

In the event of undertaking a program or an event that would interrupt day-to-day operations, an organization might in many cases have to adopt Change Management practices to insure the successful implementation of a specific change. (CM).

Besides controlling the natural reluctance humans have facing changes; which can negatively slow or even cause the failure of an important change; that discipline can simultaneously prepare, equip and support individuals to successfully adopt it in order to drive organizational success and outcomes.

Even though each and every change can be unique in its own way, it has been shown by decades of research and case studies that there are actions an organization can take to influence a proper transition throughout the changes.

Adopting a Change Management will guarantee a structured approach that will support individuals within the organization to embrace the change and move from their own current states to future (targeted) ones.

 

There are three Levels of Change Management

Individual Change Management

Individuals are the absolute core of an organization, and while it is the natural psychological and physiological reaction of humans to resist change, putting in place a CM system will support the heart of the organization through these times of change which can make them incredibly adaptive and successful.

Individual change management requires understanding how people experience change and what they need to change successfully. It also requires knowing what will help people make a successful transition: what messages do people need to hear, when and from whom, when the optimal time to teach someone a new skill is, how to coach people to demonstrate new behaviors, and what makes changes “stick” in someone’s work. Individual change management draws on disciplines like psychology and neuroscience to apply actionable frameworks to individual change.

Organizational/Initiative Change Management

While change happens at the individual level, it is often impossible for a project team to manage change on a person-by-person basis. Organizational or initiative change management provides us with the steps and actions to take at the project level to support the hundreds or thousands of individuals who are involved a project.

Organizational CM involves first scanning and identifying the groups and people who will need to change as the result of the project, and in what ways they will need to change. Organizational CM then involves creating a customized plan to make sure impacted employees receive the awareness, leadership, coaching, and training they need in order to successfully change.

 

Phase 1 – Preparing for Change 

  1. Define your CM strategy 
  2. Prepare your CM team 
  3. Develop your sponsorship mode

 

Phase 2 – Managing Change 

  1. Develop CM plans 
  2. Take action and implement plans 

 

 

Phase 3 – Reinforcing Change 

  1. Collect and analyze feedback 
  2. Diagnose gaps and manage resistance 
  3. Implement corrective actions and celebrate successes

 

Organizational change management is complementary to your project management. Project management ensures your project’s solution is designed, developed and delivered, while change management ensures your project’s solution is effectively embraced, adopted and used.

Enterprise Change Management Capability

Enterprise change management is an organizational core skill that provides competitive differentiation and the ability to effectively adapt to the ever-changing world. An enterprise change management capability means effective change management is incorporated into your organization’s roles, structures, processes, projects and leadership competencies. CM processes are consistently and effectively applied to initiatives, leaders have the skills to guide their teams through change, and employees know what to ask for in order to be successful.

The end result of an enterprise change management capability is that individuals embrace change more quickly and effectively, and organizations are able to respond quickly to market changes, embrace strategic initiatives, and adopt new technology more quickly and with less productivity impact. This capability does not happen by chance, however, and requires a strategic approach to embed change management across an organization.

Agreeing with the above, Angelo McNeive (Consultant, business psychologist, facilitator and co-founder of STEPSTONE Consulting) has listed 5 reasons why CM matters so much.

According to McNeive, CM develops an agile organization that can face a fast and complex demand.

He states: “Perhaps you’re introducing technology to enable flexible working, reengineering a business process or transforming customer experience. The chances are your organization is facing the pressure to change on multiple fronts at the same time.”

This automatically leads to increasing the likelihood of a project to succeed.  In fact McNeive adds : “A growing body of evidence points to change management significantly increasing the likelihood of your project delivering the outcomes it was intended to. Also, there are consistent factors that play a critical role such as the quality of sponsorship, having dedicated change management resources and integration of change management with project management. Developing your knowledge and skills in change management can make all the difference.”

CM is also said to increase adoption which lack can cause failure to deliver; even if it were well-implemented from a technical point of view. Effective change management reduces productivity decline during the change process and significantly increases adoption levels, boosting return on investment and benefits delivery.

Angelo McNeive also believes that CM maximizes the impact of project management which is quite an investment in some organizations. He believes that reinforcing the project management tools with CM makes them both complementary disciplines which once well-integrated will absolutely increase the chances of success.

He finally adds that Change Management can drastically change project costs and risks since it is an extra pair of eyes set to fight resistance, the missed milestones, and any risk of failure to deliver.

He goes: “For your organization, the ripple effects of poorly managed change can be even more significant. Some of the negative impacts can be more immediate such as opportunity costs, reduced morale, increased absenteeism and regretted losses of valued personnel.”

Now, implementing the Change Management can take going through up to 8 steps.

 

  • Identify What Will Be Improved:  Since most changes occur to improve a process, a product, or an outcome, it is critical to identify the focus and to clarify goals. This also involves identifying the resources and individuals that will facilitate the process.
  • Present a Solid Business Case to Stakeholders:  There are several layers of stakeholders. All have different expectations and experiences and there must be a high level of “buy-in” from across the spectrum. The process of onboarding the different constituents; varies with each change framework, but all provide plans that call for the time, patience, and communication.
  • Plan for the Change: This is the “roadmap” that identifies the beginning, the route to be taken, and the destination. Resources are to be integrated and leveraged into the plan, so are the scope and costs. A critical element of planning is providing a multi-step process rather than sudden, unplanned “sweeping” changes.
  • Provide Resources and Use Data for Evaluation: As part of the planning process, resource identification and funding are crucial elements. These can include infrastructure, equipment, and software systems. Also consider the tools needed for re-education, retraining, and rethinking priorities and practices.
  • Communication:  This is the “golden thread” that runs through the entire practice of change management. Identifying, planning, onboarding, and executing a good change management plan is dependent on good communication. There are psychological and sociological realities inherent in group cultures. Those already involved have established skill sets, knowledge, and experiences. But they also have pecking orders, territory, and corporate customs that need to be addressed. Providing clear and open lines of communication throughout the process is a critical element in all change modalities.
  • Monitor and Manage Resistance, Dependencies, and Budgeting Risks:  Resistance is a very normal part of change management, but it can threaten the success of a project. Most resistance occurs due to a fear of the unknown. It also occurs because there is a fair amount of risk associated with change – the risk of impacting dependencies, return on investment risks, and risks associated with allocating budget to something new. Anticipating and preparing for resistance by arming leadership with tools to manage it will aid in a smooth change lifecycle.
  • Celebrate Success:  Recognizing milestone achievements is an essential part of any project. When managing a change through its lifecycle, it’s important to recognize the success of teams and individuals involved. This will help in the adoption of both your change management process as well as adoption of the change itself.
  • Review, Revise and Continuously Improve:  As much as change is difficult and even painful, it is also an ongoing process. Even change management strategies are commonly adjusted throughout a project. Like communication, this should be woven through all steps to identify and remove roadblocks. And, like the need for resources and data, this process is only as good as the commitment to measurement and analysis.

 

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