How an Organizational Change Management Plan Prevents Change Failure

Many organizational changes fail – but that failure can be avoided with the right organizational change management plan.

However, there are plenty of other reasons to design a change management plan.

Here are just a few benefits to effective planning:

  • Boosted employee productivity
  • Decreased employee training costs
  • Reduced employee resistance
  • Better employee performance in less time
  • Improved project results
  • Greater efficiency for the change initiative

However, to get these results, you need a structured plan of attack.

Below, we will discuss what you need to succeed in change management – goals, strategy, a plan, and effective execution.

Get Measurable Results with an Organizational Change Management Plan

Below is a straightforward guide that you can use to create your own organizational change management plan.

Following these steps in order will help you achieve success – plus, you will be more likely to reap many of the benefits mentioned above.

Assess the Situation

The first step of any change management plan is to perform a 360-degree assessment of your current state.

Here are some key areas to assess:

  • Change Readiness – How mature is your enterprise change management function? Will you need to develop new processes from scratch? The answers to these questions will inform your strategy and plan.
  • Culture – Culture plays a big role in organizational change. Innovative, agile, open cultures can change more readily than those that aren’t.
  • Tools and Systems – Technology makes a big difference in change programs. And in today’s digital economy, digital adoption is often an aim or driving force for a change initiative.
  • History – Learn from your organization’s attempts at change management. Even companies who are historically unsuccessful at change can improve … if they implement the right strategy and techniques.

Research, document, and analyze all of this information.

Create Goals

With your assessments, you will be in a better position to set realistic goals, as well as a strategy for achieving those aims:

  • Envision a desired state. What will your organization look like post-project? If the change leader already has a vision, then flesh it out. Give this vision a voice by creating a story for change – creating a story for change can help you communicate your plan effectively.
  • Set goals that are clear, achievable, and measurable. Goals cannot be vague. They must also be attainable. Choose goals that can be reasonably achieved, and be sure to include a few short-term wins. Those wins go a long way towards motivating employees.
  • Create metrics and KPIs. Finally, use hard numbers that can be measured. Metrics and KPIs are essential for tracking progress, maintaining accountability, and demonstrating the value of the initiative.

As you are setting your goals, you will likely be formulating a strategy.

That strategy should be articulated in the organizational change management plan – your roadmap for success.

Design Your Plan

Here are a few tips for develop a plan that is strategic and results-oriented:

  • Create a stage-based project plan. Each stage along the journey should include goals, target dates, assignments, accountability, needs, and metrics. A detailed plan such as this will serve as the go-to reference for your plan, not to mention an effective communication tool.
  • Start from evidence. Use past successes and failures to inform your plan. Use data, analytics, and modern approaches to improve your predictions. All of this evidence can help you create a successful plan that improves upon past projects.
  • Account for obstacles. Change resistance and change fatigue are both common. These can obstruct change efforts, drag down performance, and even prevent success. Develop action plans to prevent and overcome these obstacles as much as possible. Effective two-way communication, human-centric benefits, and strong leadership can all help.
  • Communicate and explain the reasons for change. According to Ken and Scott Blanchard, authors of Leading at a Higher Level, leaders should explain the “why” of change. They should be prepared to explain what the change is, why it is needed, what’s wrong with the current state of affairs, and so on.
  • Understand common objections to change. Employee resistance is a major threat to change, but it can be overcome. Torbin Rick suggests understanding and addressing the most common objections to change. Employees often believe that change isn’t necessary, the risks are too great, the change will fail, that the change is inconsistent with their values, and so on. 

By itself, of course, a plan is not enough.

You must put the plan into action, which leads us to the next step…

Execute and Lead

Every change project should have managers, leaders, and change teams, at the very least.

Each person or group will have a role to play during execution.

Here are some tips for those who will be executing the project:

  • Roll out your project incrementally. The earliest stages of your project plan should be a pilot program. A test group can provide early feedback, data, and help you make improvements before subsequent phases.
  • Lead from the ground. Communication should not be strictly top-down. Instead, change leaders should embrace, embody, and execute the change before anyone else. Leading by example is a powerful way to mobilize support and instill confidence.
  • Review consistently. Regularly conduct reviews of your progress. These sessions are important to track progress, keep the project top-of-mind for all participants, and ensure everyone stays on top of their work.

Finally, remember that every project can be improved upon, no matter how successful it is.

Optimize

Optimization can help you improve the project as you go, improving final outcomes and ROI.

Here are some tips for making those improvements:

  • Collect data and feedback. The aforementioned review sessions are one way to collect data and feedback. However, there are many other mechanisms. A few of these include surveys, software analytics, employee performance metrics, face-to-face interviews, and so on. 
  • Analyze and learn. All of this information should be centralized, visualized, and analyzed. Doing this will help you spot trends, identify weaknesses, and gain insight into the initiative.
  • Adjust when necessary. Change management programs should be open to change. The more you can shrink the loop between feedback and response, the more agile, adaptable, and successful your program will be.

After project completion, compile and analyze your results – there is always something to be learned, after all.

That information can prove very valuable in future projects, helping you to design and execute even better change management plans.

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.