Change management is a critical component that can ensure a process’ success or its failure when implemented. Using a structured approach to transition the current state of things to a desired future you can minimize the possibility for negative outcomes and increase positive results. Through change management you can reduce pushback by those impacted, increase engagement with the process, and enhance innovation. The key is to focus on the following 5 things:
1. Know your audience.
What is your company culture and how is change best consumed? Determining what styles are best will ensure you’re reaching those impacted in a way that they are comfortable with. For communications on the change; who likes to be informed first and in what order should you inform leaders? Do you inform a few high level groups then the larger user base? Do the managers like a heads up before their employees? Does email work, intranet, other collaboration sites, a manager’s team meetings or a combo of it all. The goal is to hit all the necessary points to ensure no one is surprised by the change. Everyone is clear on things are done, feels in the know, and wants to support the change.
2. Build your plan.
What is needed and in what order? First list out all communications: deep dive trainings, announcements, info sessions, blog posts, intranet posts etc. Then identify who will create content, and who will execute on that content. Finally, determine the vehicle, purpose, and date of execution.
3. Ensure you have the right support.
As you build out your plan, ensure you have the correct leadership support. Do you need approval from an executive or their team to send particular communications or run a training on the new process? Or do you have full ownership and oversight?
Are communications sent from the top down? If so, is there a communications team who needs to review, edit and format those notes? Find out what timing works for them and aligns with other communications that are being sent. Tell them your ideal timing based on what you built out in your plan and then adjust based on the reality of their schedule.
4. Build your key messages and link them to the company goals.
Get your core message identified and locked down. What are the changes, what is the timing, and most importantly, what does the change mean to the audience? It is critical that you share the ‘what does it mean to me?’. Your audience is thinking it and likely will ask. Ensuring your share a clear and concise perspective on how this change will benefit them, and the company will help gain buy in to the change.
5. Execute on the plan.
Now you have the plan and you have the foundational messaging. Change management can be a large task. Break it down into manageable chunks. After all, this is one of the reasons you built the plan. This means building content (emails, slides, blog posts, executive updates).
Note: As you get into the weeds of content you need to ensure you regularly step back and check to make sure your foundational message is still aligned. You’re articulating what the change means to your organization and what is expected of those impacted by this change.
Change that is considered sudden is often met with fear, hesitation and pushback. By putting together a strong change management strategy and plan you’re disarming those impacted. This ensures that they feel part of the change. You already know based on the work you did mapping the process that the process changes being implemented are improvements and now you’ll have the team behind you as you implement it!
This change management guide will also come in handy in the future as you make further process improvements. See the final blog in this series for advice on how best to approach process improvements.