Why effective change management?
Humans are creatures of habit. Most of us thrive from routines and the comfort of status quo.
However, although the idea of implementing change is daunting, business as usual is rarely a choice. Consistent change and adaptation is necessary if organizations are to keep up withtoday’s volatile and ever-changing corporate environment.
Thus, the most important competitive advantage that a company can have is the ability for effective change management. A successful effective change management effort can boost a company’s morale and improve business results. On the other hand, unsuccessful change initiatives are dangerous for an organization and can cost a company millions.
Project Management Institute’s 2014 Pulse Report found that currently, for every billion dollars spent on change initiatives, organizations will lose an average $109 million. The report also found that although a majority of executives today recognize the importance of strategy implementation, they are aware of the serious disconnect between the formulation and implementation of these strategies. It is this lack of alignment that most likely leads 44% of strategic initiatives and projects to be reported as unsuccessful.
The study also found that organizational agility was the most important indicator of project and initiative success. Thus, companies who want to successfully implement effective change management strategies in their organization must not only be agile and prepared to face adversity, but should also be proactive and systematic in their approach.
Effective change management requires the following:
1. Clearly identifying the change you seek
This is the most important step in the implementation of an effective change management strategy. As a change seeker, you must be able to articulate your vision- define the problem, your solution, and the results that will come once the change is attained. You must be able to clearly outline why the current situation is unsustainable, and why the new position will allow the company to acquire a better position in your industry’s environment. It is impossible to fully predict how a change strategy will turn out, but test (on a smaller scale) the changes you seek and analyze the results. This will help in creating a realistic and stable goal.
2. Defining measurements
Having identified your vision, it is now time to work on the specifics. At this point, you need to be very clear on the following questions: What will be different once your change has been implemented? What are the parameters you will be using to measure your success? What is the timeline you will be working under? Having a well defined framework from the get-go helps keep everyone (including yourself) on track and helps in avoiding uncertainties and confusion. Plan, plan, plan!
3. Building a Strong Core Team
Now that your vision has been carefully crafted, you must proceed to what is often the most difficult step- building a core team. You should ensure your coalition consists of people who are passionate and will be dedicated to your cause. Carefully pick a team who will have enough power and energy to collaborate in all aspects of the initiative-and be agile enough to adjust if any changes are needed. It is also important to incorporate different departments and individuals with diverse skill sets. Listen to their opinions and incorporate their specialized knowledge into your plans. Inter-departamental collaboration is a must!
3. Engaging employees
Now that you have made your case and built a strong core team, you are ready to gather more widespread support within the organization. Rather than taking a ‘top-down’ approach, focus on creating opportunities for as many people to get involved as possible. A sense of ownership and belonging from employees in the organization helps build a cohesive team and ensure success. It is time to facilitate involvement and thus effective execution. Your role as a leader is to orchestrate the change process, plan and supervise, but you need as many hands with different skills as you can to effectively address all the aspects of your change initiative.
5. Creating achievable goals
In an effective change management process its important to initiate the task of setting up small goals that can be achieved soon. These “small victories” help get the ball rolling and create momentum for all those involved to continue to move the change forward. Think SMART goals, especially in the beginning stages. These victories will also earn you credibility and will most likely help you gain even more widespread support. Success breeds success.
6. Assessing and adapting
Throughout the process, make sure you assess all aspects of your strategy. Don’t be afraid to completely modify your plan if necessary. Some warning signs to consider are: timelines not being met, too many plans are being backed out, changes are affecting current operations and a decrease in support or momentum from your team members and organization. Agility is key, and you must keep a close eye on both the specifics the bigger picture of your strategy’s direction.
7. Communicating the change
Employees must know in advance of all the changes that will be ocurring within the organization. Effective and clear communication with everyone, not only those involved, helps facilitate a smooth transition into the “changed” phase. Try to use formal and informal methods of communication, sending emails and updating newsletters but also holding in-person meetings and seeking face-to-face communication.
Following these seven steps can help improve change management strategies and increase the likelihood of success in their implementation.
As a final wrap up, if you took nothing else from this article, reflect on these three key characteristics of a successful change management leader:
1. An ability to plan with concise and precise details,
2. An innate passion to communicate a vision in a way that can recruit followers,
3. An unparalleled agility to recognize when adjustments to the current plan are necessary and an ability to facilitate the changes needed
Let’s move towards a position where future Pulse Reports record negligible amounts of unsuccessful change management initiatives. It is time to embrace change, and do it the right way.
KNOLSKAPE’s ChangeQuest is a dynamic, true-to-life simulation that helps managers bridge the gap between the theory and practice of change management. It helps participants understand the strategic and tactical aspects of change management.
In the ChangeQuest simulation, the participant(s) have to introduce a massive, transformational change into an organization within a given time period. In order to do this, they have to convince the top managers of the organization using tactics that have the right content, context and timing.
Using ChangeQuest, the participants can learn how to:
-Approach change management strategically
-Execute change management strategies
-Drive momentum in the change process
-Make change stick
KNOLSKAPE’s award-winning simulations use experiential learning and gamification to attract, grow and retain talent.Global Fortune 500 companies and Top-10 B-schools use KNOLSKAPE’s products and solutions for on-boarding, training, assessments, and talent engagement strategies.