Successful Change Management – 20 Tips and Tactics

What separates successful change management from unsuccessful change management?

Driving organizational change is certainly not easy, which is why it’s so important to plan and execute change projects carefully.

Below, we’ll cover 20 tips and techniques that can streamline change programs, increase the rate of success, and improve outcomes.

20 Tips to Ensure Successful Change Management

Here are some of the best ways to drive successful change:

1. Use a change model

Change models are frameworks that outline the steps needed to successfully lead organizational change. 

These frameworks, such as Kotter’s 8-step model or Prosci’s ADKAR model, can act as a guide for managers, streamline the implementation of change initiatives, and significantly improve project outcomes.

2. Train project leaders in change management

Understanding how to manage change is essential for any manager or leader involved in a change program.

Certification and training can ensure that employees have a solid grasp of the fundamentals of change management. This, in turn, can maximize the chances of success while reducing errors, inefficiencies, miscommunication, and other obstacles to success.

3. Create a goal-oriented communication plan

In change management, success often hinges upon successful communication. 

For best results, create a change management communication plan that focuses on specific goals and objectives, such as building awareness of the need for change, cultivating a desire for change, reducing resistance, and so forth.

4. Standardize business processes

Business process standardization not only improves the efficiency of business processes, it improves communication between employees and managers.

Standardizing new processes, by providing guidelines and documented workflows, also clarifies expectations and procedures, which can reduce error rates and boost efficiency.

5. Improve efficiency with project management tools

Project management software, such as Wrike or Zoho Projects, include features that make it easier to lead business projects, such as scheduling tools, kanban boards, time tracking, collaboration tools, and more. 

6. Take an agile approach to change management

Agile change management is an approach to change management that emphasizes speed, responsiveness, and flexibility.

Like other agile business processes, agile change management keeps projects on track by staying user-centered and data-driven.

7. Build agility into the business

An agile approach should not only be applied during change management, but throughout the business.

After all, incorporating agility into the very heart of the enterprise will improve the organization’s ability to drive successful change.

8. Cultivate a culture of learning

Organizational culture plays an important role in business transformation projects – in some cases, cultures support change, while in others, they may not. 

While there is no such thing as a “perfect” culture for every organization, a culture of learning can help employees adapt more easily to changes in the business.

9. Simplify the employee experience

Organizational change often adds complexity to the workplace. This can increase cognitive load and change fatigue, which can decrease employee productivity and engagement.

Streamlining digital workflows, standardizing business processes, and simplifying the workplace’s digital ecosystem can all reduce that complexity and, in turn, improve the employee experience and employee performance.

10. Assess change readiness

Change readiness assessments are assessments, such as questionnaires and analyses, that gauge how ready the organization and employees are for change.

When conducted properly, these assessments make it easier to create a change plan that meets the needs of the business.

11. Continually collect feedback

Throughout a change project, it is important to stay tapped into employee sentiments and needs.

Employee surveys, performance data, manager feedback, and other sources can be used to stay connected to employees, as well as the performance of the project.

12. Digitize the workplace

Digitization and digital transformation can help businesses become, among other things, more agile and nimble. 

The use of real-time data in the business, for instance, can work in tandem with agile business processes to improve flexibility and speed across the business.

13. Invest in enterprise change management

Enterprise change management refers to an organization’s formal change management function.

Organizations with a high level of change management maturity have standardized best practices throughout the business, which significantly improves the chances of leading successful change.

14. Plan for change fatigue – and avoid it

Change fatigue can occur when a change project goes on for too long or employees lose motivation.

There are several strategies for mitigating that fatigue, by, for instance, simplifying the employee experience, offering incentives, and holding employees accountable for their performance.

15. Monitor employee attitudes

Employee behavior and performance goes hand-in-hand with their attitudes.

Throughout the project, be sure to not only track employee performance, but how they feel about the change project.

16. Lead change, don’t just manage it

Leading change means creating a vision for change, embodying the change, setting an example for others to follow, and, in short, being a good leader.

Effective change leadership can mean the difference between a project’s success and its failure.

17. Obtain executive sponsorship

Executive sponsorship is one of the top contributors to a project’s success, so it is important to obtain that sponsorship early on.

Not only is it important to obtain sponsorship, it is important to ensure that sponsors stay actively involved with a project – the more involved they are, the greater the impact they will have on the project.

18. Create a strategy for overcoming resistance to change

Resistance to change is one of the most common obstacles faced during organizational change.

Understanding what causes resistance to change, such as the fear of incompetence or inadequacy, can help managers plan for and mitigate that resistance before it becomes a problem.

19. Reinforce change after the project is complete

Once change projects are complete, changed business processes should be reinforced to ensure that they stick.

Good tactics include incentives, accountability systems, ongoing training, and performance reviews.

20. Review and continually improve

After an organizational change project is complete, performance metrics should be reviewed, analyzed, and learned from.

That knowledge can then be used to improve future organizational change projects.

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.