I don’t believe change management is rocket science. In fact, I don’t even believe rocket science is “rocket science” if you take the time to break the work down into manageable components. Below is the approach I follow when managing change in large organizations.
1. Understand the “why” of the change
First, take the time to truly understand why the organization needs to change. It is very easy to jump ahead and start looking at how employees need to change prior to understanding the reasons for the change. Sooner or later you will be forced to return to this step as many of the employees impacted by the change will want to know the reasons for the change. From my experience, it is much easier to get people onboard with a change when they understand the reasons why. I start my investigation with the following simple questions:
– Why is the organization changing?
– What are the external/ internal forces pushing it to change?
2. Understand the characteristics of the proposed change
Second, understand the characteristics of the proposed change. I make an early attempt to identify the number of employees that are impacted by the change. I do this by recreating the organizational chart on an 11×17 sheet of paper and highlighting all impacted departments right down to the individuals. I also attach a few comments to each of the impacted groups, describing and summarizing the intensity of the change per group.
I also take a look at senior managment’s level of involvement to see if there is appropriate support for the change iniative. Getting the right level of executive support is paramount. Executives need to show active and visible support for the change initiative for project benefits to be fully realized. For this reason, any member of the senior management team that is impacted by the change, but isn’t an official sponsor of the project, should be kept informed of the progress and major decisions at a minimum.
3. Assess the organization – are they good at adopting change?
Third, look at how good the organization is at adopting change. While getting a grip on the “why” of the change, it is also important to gauge the organization’s ability to adopt change. I start this type of investigation with the following simple questions:
– Has the organization tried to implement this solution previously?
– Are there negative or positive feelings related to change in this organization?
– Is there a structured change management approach or do people just “wing it”?
My investigation consists of interviewing key individuals, looking at the success rate of previous projects and possibly conducting survey/ questionnaires to measure the pulse of the organization towards change. Equipped with this information, I’m able to create a catered change management strategy for the organization. For example, it may be suitable for a company to have their employees trained on change management principles and practices prior to any major changes in the near future. It may also be necessary to coach key managers and have them transformed into change agents so that they can better prepare their employees for the transition from old to new behaviours.
Stay tuned for a follow-up post explaining the remaining steps in my approach to change management.
Posts related to this series – Change Strategy:
1. A Practical Guide to Creating a Change Management Plan
2. Part 2 – Building the Engagement Strategy
3. Part 3 – Building the Communication Strategy
4. Part 4 – Building the Training Strategy
5. Part 5 – Building the Coaching Strategy
6. Part 6 – Building the Transition Strategy
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