One of the best ways to ensure that an organizational change project operates smoothly is by asking and answering the right change management questions.
In this post, we’ll explore the top questions to consider, broken down by the stage of the project.
Change Management Questions to Ask and Answer During a Project
There are several ways to segment a project’s life cycle, or the stages that a project progresses through.
Below, we’ll break the project roadmap into four stages:
- Preparation. The earliest stage of an organizational change program. During this stage, change advocates perform assessments and lay the foundational material that will be used during the planning stage.
- Planning. During this stage, project managers design the action plan, or the roadmap, that will be followed during the project’s execution.
- Execution. As a project moves forward, it is important to continually assess its progress. We’ll cover some key questions that can improve insights and help managers stay in tune with the project’s performance.
- Post-project. After an organizational change has been completed, the right questions and analyses can help project leaders learn what worked, what didn’t, and what can be done differently next time. It is also important to ensure that there are mechanisms in place to reinforce change over time.
Now, let’s look at a few questions to include in a change management checklist or template:
Laying the foundation is crucial to developing an appropriate solution that employees will accept and actively support. Here are a few of the most important types of questions to focus on during this stage.
Questions about risks and the business impact:
- What is the financial impact?
- How will the change affect the customers?
- How will the change impact business processes?
- What are the risks of not changing?
- Can we make a solid business case for the change?
Questions that assess capabilities:
- What skills do employees need after the change is complete?
- What is their skill level now?
- What types of resources and activities do we need to get from here to there?
- What IT systems do we have in place?
- What business processes do we have in place?
- What systems and processes will we need to have after the project is complete?
Questions that assess employee attitudes, behaviors, and culture:
- How accepting will employees be of the proposed change?
- How will the change benefit or detract from the workplace?
- How well does the current culture align with the proposed post-project workplace culture?
Asking and answering these types of questions can be inform employee surveys and questionnaires such as cultural assessments and technology acceptance questionnaires.
Once the preparational material has been gathered, the next step is turning that information into a plan of action.
Questions about culture, attitudes, and behaviors:
- Do we need to change the organizational culture to be successful?
- What new attitudes, behaviors, and values need to be embedded for the project to succeed?
- How can we establish a sense of urgency among employees?
- How likely are employees to resist change – and why?
- What is the best strategy for mitigating resistance to change?
- How can we translate our vision of the organization’s “end state” into a compelling story for change?
Questions about capabilities, processes, and systems:
- What is the best way to train employees to give them the skills they need to drive change?
- Which barriers need to be removed to enable success?
- Which new tools will be implemented?
- What is the best way to implement those tools simply and efficiently?
- Which new processes and systems must be put into place?
- What is the best rollout strategy for removing old processes and introducing new ones?
Questions about planning and project implementation:
- Do we have change leaders and executive sponsors in place?
- Have we clearly defined an overarching project strategy?
- Have we established a clear project roadmap?
- Do we have well-defined goals in place?
- Have those goals been translated into measurable objectives?
- Do we have change management KPIs and metrics?
- Have we created and assigned change teams to operate at each level of the project?
- Do we have a strategy for recruiting volunteers?
Once these questions have been answered and plans have been made, it is time to prepare a set of questions to ask about the plan’s execution.
To implement the project successfully, it is important to continually monitor the project’s health, manage problems, and ensure that the changes are being successfully embedded.
Questions about evaluating and managing project performance:
- Have we established KPIs and built mechanisms for tracking those metrics?
- Are we collecting data in real-time?
- How often will metrics be reviewed?
- How often will team leaders meet to evaluate the project’s performance?
- Do we have accountability systems in place?
- Do we have a strategy for change management performance improvement?
- How will we celebrate short-term wins?
- Do we have a system for continually evaluating employee feedback?
- Do we have agile processes in place for overcoming barriers to organizational change?
- How will we know when the project is complete?
After the project has been completed, it is time to focus on sustaining change for the long-term.
Key activities after project completion revolve around reviewing the change and reinforcing it.
Questions about reviewing the change:
- Have we collected and compiled the necessary data and feedback about the project’s performance?
- What can we learn from that information?
- How should these lessons be applied to future organizational change projects?
Questions about instituting change for the long-term:
- Is ongoing employee training necessary?
- Do we have a continual training plan in place?
- Do we have mechanisms for measuring change adoption?
- Have we established ongoing mechanisms, such as performance reviews, to reinforce desired behaviors?
- How effective are these reinforcement mechanisms?
These types of questions are important to ask, since not all changes stick and reinforcement is often necessary to ensure that employees don’t revert to old behaviors.
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.