Change is like the family minivan. It’s not the fancy sports car everyone wants to drive, but it’s necessary to accomplish your goals.
When beginning the change management process, you may have a long road of resistance ahead of you. Before starting down this road, the project team must create a detailed organizational change management plan.
Types of Organizational Change
There are two main types of change that can occur within an organization: incremental and transformative. It’s important to understand which change your company is going to implement as one of these is more difficult than the other.
Incremental change is based on the current state and is implemented to improve the existing way things are done. This level of change is easier to implement than transformative change because there is a baseline off which to adjust. An example of incremental change is a manufacturing environment modifying standard operating procedures, such as having employees use a different tool on a production line.
Transformative change is more difficult to implement because it is based on a future state that is mostly theoretical—it is a vision of where a company could be versus where it is today. Transformative change takes time to implement and is often met with resistance because of its focus on changing organizational culture and shaping behavior. An example of transformative change would be a company undergoing a merger that would restructure departmental information flow.
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What is a Change Management Plan?
A change management plan is an outline that informs the use of processes and tools for managing the people side of change. The importance of change management lies in the fact that your employees – or end-users – determine the success of your project.
Some of the key aspects of an effective change management process include a communication plan, a sponsorship roadmap, a resistance management plan, a coaching plan and a training plan. More specifically, a change management plan should fulfill the following purposes:
- Provide a case for change
- Facilitate communication
- Manage implementation barriers
- Manage resistance
- Show progress
- Provide reinforcement
7 Tips for Creating a Change Management Plan
1. Assess Proposed Changes Against Business Goals
It’s important to ensure that organizational changes are aligned with your digital strategy and business goals. In other words, changes should support the financial, ethical and strategic goals of your business.
2. Develop a Strict Timeline
You need to detail the who, what, when and how of your proposed change in a specific timeline. When will the specific aspects of your change be implemented? Who will implement them? How will they be implemented? Who and what will be affected?
3. Create an Airtight Communication Plan
A change management communication plan should have a singular goal: to ensure that your goals are transparent and your business leaders are open in their discussions about change. This includes discussion of what’s changing and why. Once you have established transparency and open dialogue, you should schedule times when you will communicate specific aspects of change.
4. Train Employees to Adjust to the Proposed Changes
It’s important to provide training for your managers and employees so they can learn new processes and technology. This training will likely require external resources experienced in customizing training materials based on job roles and designing refresher training at key intervals.
5. Select Change Leaders
Change leaders are the individuals charged with championing the project from start to finish. You should select people from your management team who are outwardly supportive of project goals, are articulate communicators and are eager to share a positive message with employees.
6. Measure the Plan’s Effectiveness
It’s important to define change management KPIs that you can use to measure the ongoing effectiveness of the change management process. These goals should be very tactical. For example, “all employees and team members verbally agree that the change is worth the expense.”
7. Don’t be Afraid to Make Changes
The test of an organization’s ability to accomplish its mission lies in its ability to navigate obstacles. If, once, you have made your plan, and you find that your plan is not effective, modify the plan and continue to confront change resistance.
3 Aspects of the Change Management Process
If leaders are able to influence employees’ perspectives and provide them with the tools to accomplish change, your company will be able to achieve its goals.
According to the authors of the book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard , people have two independent systems at work in their brains at all times: the rational side and the emotional side (some call this the left and right side of the brain).
Project managers must be aware of the impact change will have on their employees’ rational and emotional sides of their brains and use this knowledge to inform their change management process steps.
Think of the rational side of the brain as a horse and the emotional side as the rider. Without the horse having emotion, there will be no motivation or energy to get things done, and similarly, without the rider having the ability to think there will be no plan to accomplish the task.
Navigating change is much like a rider navigating a horse to the finish line during a race. To accomplish change three things must be done:
1. Direct the Rider
Riders tend to contemplate and analyze information before deciding which path to take. The rider must be given clear instructions as to where he should go, or there is a chance he could lead the horse in the wrong direction.
2. Motivate the Horse
It is very difficult to motivate a horse to go a direction it doesn’t want to go. Even if a rider is able to temporarily encourage the horse to cross a river once, that same behavior is not guaranteed the next time the horse arrives as a river. However, with the proper motivation, the horse will always find a way to cross the river.
3. Shape the Path
To direct the rider and motivate the horse, the path must be shaped by narrowing the focus on a singular goal. For example, on a racetrack, this is done by placing barriers along the edge of the track. In writing a change management plan, this is done with clear and consistent communication.
Successful Change Management Requires Proper Planning
People have a difficult time adjusting to change, so you must consider the impact change will have on employees and how they will react to it. Analyzing the impact of change will help you determine change management process steps that reduce fear and uncertainty among employees and ensure employee engagement.
Panorama understands that change can’t be forced. Their methodology helps companies introduce change at a pace employees can absorb without slowing down your project.
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