As you’re developing your organizational change management plan, are you worried about how difficult it will be to implement?

Your worries are well-founded. Change management is one of the most challenging aspects of business transformation.

However, with an understanding of the challenges of implementing change in an organization, you can ensure that change management is one aspect of your project that is destined to succeed.

What is Organizational Change Management?​

Organizational change management (OCM) is a structured process and set of tools for managing the people side of change. It focuses on how employees may react to the project so you can put steps in place to curb resistance.

A solid OCM plan can be the difference between a successful digital transformation and one that fails to get off the ground. Too often, companies jump right into the technical side of their projects and assume the rest will fall into place. When this happens, employees begin to grow resentful and even fearful. Without clear and consent communication around the change, they may have unanswered questions such as:

  • Why is it necessary?
  • How will it affect my job role?
  • Will it be difficult to learn?

By focusing on OCM from the start, you can keep team members in the loop as each phase of the project occurs. This helps dispel rumors, engages employees, and destroys common change management obstacles.

4 Challenges of Implementing Change in an Organization

1. Ensuring Executive Support and Change Sponsorship​

Many executives understand the need for change, and they can see the business benefits of adopting new processes and new enterprise software.

However, they aren’t always as clear on the specific role that they should play in the change itself. At the same time, they may underestimate the resources, time, and money required to implement the change.

As a result, wires get crossed and expectations go unmet. Communication becomes inconsistent as visibility and transparency slip away.

Meanwhile, your employees are watching. If leaders at the organization aren’t championing the change, the common question becomes, “Why should we?”

Users need continuous support as they learn a new system, and this support should trickle down from the top. While active sponsorship can invigorate a team, the opposite also holds true: If employees don’t feel supported, it can lead to low user adoption and missed objectives.

From the very beginning, your project sponsors and stakeholders should understand and embrace the change, and executives should be some of your most active and visible change advocates.

Change Management Case Study

The client recognized their need for more comprehensive change management, so they asked us to fill in the gaps. We developed a robust communication plan to supplement the vendor’s communication approach.

2. Tailoring Communications Effectively​

It’s important to develop an effective change management communication strategy. Simply sending out an email blast each time you have an update isn’t usually the best approach. Rather, it’s important to think about how each user group should receive messages. Then, consider who should deliver those messages.

In most cases, employees want to hear business-level change updates from top-tier leaders. When it comes to more personal change information (e.g., how the change will affect their job), they want to get that insights from their direct supervisor.

You can’t exactly tailor your communication style to each person, but you can group employees into like categories.

For instance, consider which teams will respond best to conference room meetings, and which ones need one-on-one conversations. Are there any details you should focus on over others when updating certain groups?

It might take a little more time to go this route, but it helps ensure that your messages are absorbed in the way they should be.

3. Creating a Unified Project Strategy

You can’t expect your employees to embrace a change if your project team members aren’t even on the same page.

Before moving forward with any type of digital business transformation, develop a strategic plan that answers the following questions:

  • What is the size and scale of this project?
  • How will enterprise software help us reach our short-term and long-term business goals?
  • What level of change management will it take to get there?

Don’t move forward until you’ve established a consensus around these answers. Everyone who works on the project should understand why it’s happening, the benefits it will provide, and how to approach the change effectively.

4. Managing Change Resistance

Despite all your best efforts to develop a successful OCM plan, you may still encounter employees who are simply resistant to the idea of change.

These are different from those who are suspicious of the project at first but eventually warm up to the idea. Instead, these are long-term naysayers who seem unwilling to budge on their position. They’re not enthusiastic about the project and want to bring as many people into their circle as possible.

When you encounter these types of employees, you need to know how to communicate with them. While your first inclination might be to push back against their claims, take the time to listen to them. Understand what’s at the root of their resistance, and consider if there might be any truths to their sentiments.

This is the best way to discern if they’re just complaining, or if their pushback is valid. If they’re griping without reason, develop a strategy to address the behavior before it gets out of hand. Detractors can have a domino effect on others, which could negatively impact your entire project.

Developing a Winning Change Management Plan

Any time you introduce new process or technology to your organization, it can be disruptive. The key to turning this disruption into positive, long-lasting change is to anticipate issues before they arise.

While these are some of the most common challenges of implementing change in an organization, they aren’t the only ones. Think about the way your workforce might respond to the project ahead, and plan accordingly.

Need help preparing your employees for new ERP software or supply chain management software? Contact our organizational change management consultants below.

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