Shaking up the status quo can rejuvenate your teams, amplify your productivity and delight your customers. At the same time, such shifts can also throw your workforce off-kilter. Pushing full-steam ahead without proper planning can leave employees frustrated, overwhelmed and burnt out. 

Thankfully, there are strategies and structures you can put in place to ensure the success of your current initiatives and future projects. 

Whether you’re planning change related to new processes, new technology or a combination of both, having an organizational change capability is key. When you have this core competency, all organizational changes you undergo will deliver maximum business benefits.

7 Tips for Building an Organizational Change Capability

1. Ensure Active, Visible Sponsorship

Nearly every study centered on organizational change management has come to the same conclusion: Unless your employees see senior executives actively championing the change, they’re unlikely to support it. 

This also applies to building your internal change capability. Project sponsors aren’t a nice-to-have; they’re critical to spearheading the change effort and making sure the message reaches the right parties.

Not only will they talk about the change and get the conversation started, but they’ll provide the valuable resources required to enable the effort, from funds to authority.

This is where change management comes in. What is change management? It is the process of looking at the human side of a project.

As you pitch this concept to your C-suite, it’s important to emphasize how building an organizational change capability can help the company meet its financial, strategic and operational goals. When your company is set up to embrace change, it empowers your organization and propels it forward. 

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. Create a Structured Plan

The idea of building a new capability from scratch can feel a little overwhelming. That’s why it helps to think of this effort as a project in itself. 

Instead of starting this project without a compass, take the time to develop a plan, including a timeline. Then, form a team tasked with overseeing the effort.

Finally, ask important questions, such as:

  • What is the company’s current level of organizational change capability? 
  • Where do we want to go in the future?
  • What solution will get us there?

As with any project, there will be a “people side” and a “technical side.” Organizing your thoughts and planning your approach can help make sure you approach each side the right way. 

3. Clearly Visualize Your Future State

Brainstorming where you want your organization to go does more than just motivate your project team. It also gives you a clear roadmap for the steps you need to take, as well as a way to evaluate your progress. 

Another important reason to conceptualize your future state? Keeping your eye on what’s ahead can encourage your workforce to stay the course, especially as interest wanes.

As you do so, consider the effort from three different perspectives: 

  • An enterprise-wide perspective
  • A project perspective (e.g., budget, resources)
  • An individual employee’s perspective

4. Take a Holistic Approach

As you begin to grow your change capability, keep in mind that the effort must be all-encompassing and holistic. Hyper-focusing on one area, such as end-user training, could leave few resources available for other activities.

Instead of working in a silo, look for opportunities to intersect various points of your project, including:

  • Core processes
  • Leadership
  • Skill building
  • Structural support
  • Project requirements

As you dive deeper into your capacity building, you’ll find that there will be times when one point is stressed more than the others. Still, they each have their place and should be considered alongside one another as you move forward. 

5. Apply Methodology

Once your company has built a change capability, it’s time to apply what you’ve worked so hard to build.

This is how you’ll measure the true success of your efforts and determine if the capability has been fully developed. Key elements to look for include:

  • Change management initiatives applied to a large percentage of company projects, including ERP implementations, business transformations, process improvement initiatives, etc.
  • Time and resources available to apply change management to company projects
  • Different parts of your company (teams, divisions, units) actively applying change management
  • Tools that are easy to access (and frequently accessed) to manage change 

If you can answer affirmatively to the above points, you’re on the right track. As you evaluate where your company stands, ensure that the change resources are being applied consistently, rather than in isolated instances. 

6. Invest in Ongoing Training

Building an organizational change capability is not just a one-time effort. It requires consistently investing in your employees, managers, leaders and executives to make sure they have the right tools, knowledge and skills.

In addition to change management practitioners, you should also rely on your internal resources. For example, you should ensure company leadership is trained on how to coach their employees through change.

At the same time, be sure to equip employees to use the new ERP system, new processes, etc. 

7. Standardize and Institutionalize

As you establish change management processes, you can standardize them to make sure everyone is applying them in a consistent manner. 

Eventually, this will lead to the creation of a common language that describes your company’s change capability. Examples of ways to implement this in your organization include:

  • Adopting a standard change management approach and methodology
  • Providing standard change tools 
  • Creating a core change training curriculum
  • Integrating change management into your standard project processes

Standardized change management should be embedded into your company’s core structure. It isn’t a separate entity, but a natural next step any time you begin a new project. 

Growing Your Organizational Change Capability

While this foundation won’t be built overnight, it’s well worth the time, effort and resources. A strong organizational change capability is the key to embracing new and innovative technologies with ease. It also helps you build a workforce that looks ahead with confidence and is willing to continuously improve.

Our team of change management consultants can ensure that your current change management efforts lay the foundation for future change management efforts. Contact us below to learn more.

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