Change management offers many, many advantages – the biggest being return on investment.
Data has repeatedly shown that well-structured, excellent, and sophisticated change programs deliver better results across the board.
Proven Change Management Advantages
Google is no stranger to change management, and has even developed its own change management system.
In one argument for innovative change management, Google uses data to repeatedly hammer home the ROI of effective change programs.
A research report issued by Google, The Value of Change Management, compiled information from over 300 interviews with C-suite executives.
It offers great insight into the state of change management, best practices, and the need for innovation.
- Well-prepared change programs can deliver a “135% positive return on investment and result in a more fulfilling workplace”
- The activities that most improve employee engagement include increased levels of executive sponsorship (45%), increased consultation with frontline employees to discover needs (42%), and improved communications (34%)
- Change champions play a crucial role, according to 67% of respondents who had change champions – and whose projects successfully delivered against quantifiable objectives
- Organizations that offer mixed-format, mandatory training were significantly more likely to meet their project objectives
- The majority of executives who considered their programs successful (69%) offered training before and after go-live
The report concluded by stating that the better the change management program, “the better the return on investment.”
Those who considered their programs to be excellent and sophisticated reported ROI, on average, of 135%.
They also agreed that ROI would have been higher if they had invested more heavily in their change programs.
Other Benefits of Effective Change Management
Beyond ROI, the report highlighted a number of benefits derived from good change programs.
- A more attractive and fulfilling workplace
- Process efficiency
- Cost reduction
- Increased innovation
- Higher output levels
- Improved collaboration
- Profit / revenue
In the survey, respondents measured their objectives in these areas, against the eventual outcomes. The results were mixed, with programs not always achieving their targets.
However, change programs did measure positive impacts across the board, usually falling close to targets.
In some cases, targets were vastly exceeded.
Change programs usually drastically improved workplace quality and output levels, for instance. This demonstrates that effective change programs have a large impact on the workplace itself, workplace culture, and employee motivation.
How to Make Change Programs More Effective
As mentioned above, there were a few activities that increased employee engagement above all others.
Namely, executive sponsorship, engagement with frontline employees, and improved communications.
In order of effectiveness, other ways to improve engagement included:
- More sympathetic timeframes
- Better targeted training
- Recognition and incentivization programs
Regarding which activities were the most effective, three topped the list: post-project change activities, training, and executive sponsorship.
And, as mentioned above, the most successful programs used change champions – business leaders – to embrace, lead, and embody change.
What We Can Learn from this Research
There are a few things that this report clarifies.
On the one hand, it demonstrates quite a few change management advantages, including ROI.
It also shows how important it is to create a business change program that is well-structured, effective, and sophisticated. In this report, the results of effective programs far outstripped programs that weren’t well developed.
Based on this data, there are a few things we can learn about change management:
Championship delivers better results.
As mentioned by one of the survey respondents, “the most important element of deployment is having the top leadership team being very hands-on.”
This principle is well-known among change management professionals. And it makes sense.
For employees to truly embrace and believe in change, leaders must actually lead from the ground … not dictate from the top.
Effective communication is key to engagement.
The above principle also applies to communication. Without effective communication, employees are left in the dark.
This, in turn, can lead to employee frustration, poor motivation, and low productivity levels.
Total participation and clear communication, however, help staff feel included and important. These feelings will help them embrace and drive the change program.
Training is listed as one of the most effective change activities.
As mentioned, the most effective change programs rolled out training both before and after go-live.
Whether “go-live” refers to software deployment, adoption of a new technology, or another type of change, effective employee training is critical.
Effective training, in a variety of modes and formats, helps employee output, productivity, and it gives them confidence in the skills they must learn.
Post-project change activities help cement and maintain change.
Long-standing change management authorities, such as Lewin and Kotter, have all reiterated the importance of reinforcement.
Reinforcement is even built into some change models, such as the ADKAR model and Kotter’s 8-step change model.
And, in this report, the advantages and benefits of such reinforcement have been clearly demonstrated.
Executive buy-in and sponsorship is a must.
Another point made clear by this report is that buy-in is critical. Without sponsorship – not to mention leadership – change programs will face big barriers.
Change managers should always prioritize buy-in and hands-on involvement whenever possible.
Change management has many advantages, and this report proves it.
Not only do we see clear ROI, the data also demonstrates a wide range of other benefits, from workplace improvement to higher output levels.
Whether designing a program or making a case for change management to executives, it would be useful to keep this information on hand.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.