If your business is undergoing change, you need to learn how to manage change without getting overwhelmed.
Yes, it’s true that organizational change can be nerve-wracking and hair-raising…
Employees might resist.
The initiative might go over budget.
Executives may not want to get involved.
The specter of failure is real. And some initiatives don’t meet their stated objectives.
However, with the right approach, it’s possible to minimize risks, reduce failure rates, and get better results from your change initiative.
Here are 5 steps that can help you do just that:
First, Identify Hurdles to Change
After recognizing the type of change needed, one of your top priorities is avoiding preventable errors.
Of course, some obstacles aren’t preventable, but don’t lose money on those that are.
Common barriers to change include:
- Employee resistance.
- Lack of executive support.
- Poor change management.
- Lack of change leadership.
Identify those that might stand in your way, then develop ways to tackle them – or avoid them altogether.
Second, Create a Change Management Strategy
Your change leaders have likely provided you with a vision for change.
It’s likely that this vision includes specific goals and results to be achieved.
If not, work with change leaders to create some.
Your change management strategy should specifically include:
- Initiatives for changing mindsets and behaviors.
- Milestones and goals.
- Change management tools such as metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Procedures for maintaining the change after it has been completed.
There are several benefits to such accountability.
Not only can you provide proof of your plan’s success, you can also monitor progress, know what’s working, and fix what’s not.
Third, Assign Governance Roles
Finding the right people to effect change can make worlds of difference.
Assigning roles is a crucial part of establishing a governance structure for your change process.
You need to establish a decision-making framework, create procedures, and assign roles to enact that governance.
Also, it is imperative to include all of the roles necessary to succeed.
Governance roles include:
- Change managers.
- Change leaders.
- Executive sponsors.
- Stakeholder advocates.
Depending on the size of your organization, some individuals may take on multiple roles.
The key is that your change management framework includes decision-makers who can make it succeed.
If certain roles are missing from the governance framework, then you might as well be driving a car without a wheel.
Fourth, Track Your Implementation
Using the metrics, milestones, and goals mentioned above, track your progress.
Tracking progress will keep you abreast of developments as they arise.
And, by getting feedback from employees, you’ll be able to stay on top of employee concerns, resistance, and weaknesses in the implementation.
According to Prosci, change management metrics can focus on several areas:
- Organizational Performance
- Individual Performance
- Change Management Performance
- Change Management Activity Effectiveness
The insight you gain from this analysis can help you improve your current program as it goes, as well as future change programs.
And, as mentioned above, you can use these metrics to demonstrate the effectiveness and results of the change program.
Fifth, Ensure Change Is Sustained
Don’t assume that the job is one once the implementation is complete.
It’s entirely possible that change can fail after the program is seemingly finished. In many cases, employees will revert to their old way of doing things.
The reasons for unsustained change vary, but they usually have to do with failed execution or reinforcement.
- Failing to properly motivate employees
- Poor training
- Failure to adhere to elements of the change framework
- Not inviting total participation from employees
- Failing to cement changes through reinforcement
To spot cracks and potential weaknesses that could unravel your change plan:
Get feedback from participants at every level. Check their motivation levels and their opinions.
Check output levels. Productivity should be upward trending, though naturally it won’t peak until later.
Stay in constant communication at every level. Motivation can fizzle without constant feedback about the change process. Communicate the results of the change, positive and negative, to all participants and stakeholders. Also, continue to obtain feedback, listen to concerns, and invite participation.
Use analytics and metrics to track behavior. Where possible, digital metrics can offer insight into employee behavior. Usage data and productivity data can tell you whether employees are “sticking to the program” or whether more reinforcement is needed.
Conclusion: Always Cover Your Bases
For any initiative to succeed, people must change.
This is one reason why many of these steps focus on supporting employees. Employee support or resistance can mean the difference between success and failure.
And this is why change management is necessary – it ensures that organizational changes are adopted, accepted, and sustained.
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