Change management – the systems and tools for managing change
Scope of change management
The purpose of defining these change management areas is to ensure that there is a common understanding among readers. Tools or components of change management include:
Change management process
The change management process is the sequence of steps or activities that a change management team or project leader would follow to apply change management to a project or change., most change management processes contain the following three phases:
Phase 1 – Preparing for change (Preparation, assessment and strategy development)
Phase 2 – Managing change (Detailed planning and change management implementation)
Phase 3 – Reinforcing change (Data gathering, corrective action and recognition)
These phases result in the following approach as shown below in Figure 1.
It is important to note what change management is and what change management is not, as defined by the majority of research participants.
Assessments are tools used by a change management team or project leader to assess the organization’s readiness to change. Readiness assessments can include organizational assessments, culture and history assessments, employee assessments, sponsor assessments and change assessments. Each tool provides the project team with insights into the challenges and opportunities they may face during the change process.
Communication and communication planning
Many managers assume that if they communicate clearly with their employees, their job is done. However, there are many reasons why employees may not hear or understand what their managers are saying the first time around. In fact, you may have heard that messages need to be repeated 6 to 7 times before they are cemented into the minds of employees. That is because each employee’s readiness to hear depends on many factors. Effective communicators carefully consider three components: the audience, what is said and when it is said.
For example, the first step in managing change is building awareness around the need for change and creating a desire among employees. Therefore, initial communications are typically designed to create awareness around the business reasons for change and the risk of not changing. Likewise, at each step in the process, communications should be designed to share the right messages at the right time.
Communication planning, therefore, begins with a careful analysis of the audiences, key messages and the timing for those messages. The change management team or project leaders must design a communication plan that addresses the needs of front-line employees, supervisors and executives. Each audience has particular needs for information based on their role in the implementation of the change.
Coaching and manager training for change management
Supervisors will play a key role in managing change. Ultimately, the direct supervisor has more influence over an employee’s motivation to change than any other person at work. Unfortunately, supervisors as a group can be the most difficult to convince of the need for change and can be a source of resistance. It is vital for the change management team and executive sponsors to gain the support of supervisors and to build change leadership. Individual change management activities should be used to help these supervisors through the change process.
Once managers and supervisors are on board, the change management team must prepare a coaching strategy. They will need to provide training for supervisors including how to use individual change management tools with their employees.
Training and training development
Training is the cornerstone for building knowledge about the change and the required skills. Project team members will develop training requirements based on the skills, knowledge and behaviors necessary to implement the change. These training requirements will be the starting point for the training group or the project team to develop training programs.
Sponsor activities and sponsor roadmaps
Business leaders and executives play a critical sponsor role in change management. The change management team must develop a plan for sponsor activities and help key business leaders carry out these plans. Sponsorship should be viewed as the most important success factor. Avoid confusing the notion of sponsorship with support. The CEO of the company may support your project, but that is not the same as sponsoring your initiative.
Sponsorship involves active and visible participation by senior business leaders throughout the process. Unfortunately many executives do not know what this sponsorship looks like. A change agent’s or project leader’s role includes helping senior executives do the right things to sponsor the project.
Resistance from employees and managers is normal. Persistent resistance, however, can threaten a project. The change management team needs to identify, understand and manage resistance throughout the organization. Resistance management is the processes and tools used by managers and executives with the support of the project team to manage employee resistance.
Data collection, feedback analysis and corrective action
Employee involvement is a necessary and integral part of managing change. Managing change is not a one way street. Feedback from employees is a key element of the change management process. Analysis and corrective action based on this feedback provides a robust cycle for implementing change.
Celebrating and recognizing success
Early successes and long-term wins must be recognized and celebrated. Individual and group recognition is also a necessary component of change management in order to cement and reinforce the change in the organization.
The final step in the change management process is the after-action review. It is at this point that you can stand back from the entire program, evaluate successes and failures, and identify process changes for the next project. This is part of the ongoing, continuous improvement of change management for your organization and ultimately leads to change competency.
These eight elements comprise the areas or components of a change management program. Along with the change management process, they create a system for managing change. Good project managers apply these components effectively to ensure project success, avoid the loss of valued employees, and minimize the negative impact of the change on productivity and a company’s customers.