Keys to a Successful Change Management Strategy
Any change, big or small, has a ripple effect throughout your company. How you manage the change throughout will determine its ultimate success. While it’s important to ensure all components of an organizational change are in place, one of the biggest factors to take into consideration is employee buy-in. Without proper communication and guidance, even the most well-planned projects will struggle to get off the ground. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you navigate change at your company:
Find the Resources to Make it Happen
Change management can be a marathon and you need a team that can help you reach the finish line. There are many moving pieces involved, so you will first need to identify who will be part of your change management journey and what resources you need to see it through. You may want to work with a staffing or consulting firm to help you, especially during these critical planning stages. For example, Addison Group works closely with clients, often sitting on project meetings to help teams identify who they may need on their team to be successful. If a new point of sale system is being implemented, they can help you determine which skillsets or technical acumen your team needs to help with user testing and infrastructure buildout. If training courses need to be developed and your company does not have anyone that can do it in-house, a firm can help you find an instructional designer or trainer to help prepare employees for the change.
You can also rely on them throughout the change process if you need extra help, which is often the case during major implementations and rollouts. Having these resources available to lean on will be beneficial to your team, especially when you’re up against the clock.
View Employees as Stakeholders
If your new initiative or program affects employees — and most will — involve them from the very beginning and keep them in mind as you create project plans. Let’s say you are implementing a new intranet. Think about what it means for an employee — What is the timing? How will it affect their day-to-day? Have you talked to different teams to identify their needs? What are potential roadblocks? Will they be able to use it effectively on Day 1? While you may think you have the answers to these questions, employees can help give you a fuller picture. They may access different tools that you haven’t accounted for or they may have teams on-the-go and need something that works for mobile.
Don’t wait for launch day — consider setting up focus groups to get regular feedback from employees as you work out your plan. They can help you test along the way and identify opportunities or give you insight into what’s working. As a bonus, involving employees early on will get you the buy-in you seek and get them more excited about the change to come. This will be crucial in cascading that excitement to their teams and getting user adoption right out of the gate.
Create a Communications Plan and Strategy
Communications is typically part of an overall project plan but is often brought in near the project’s end. Make sure your communications point person is involved from the very beginning. While they may not need to attend technical meetings and be involved in the minutiae, it is helpful for a communicator to see overall timelines and details of the project so they can determine what communications need to be sent out and when, and ask appropriate questions with enough time to plan.
Once again, communicators must think about how the change will affect employees — this time, from an informational standpoint. Will there be resources available such as trainings or tip sheets? What is changing for them? When is it happening? What do their teams need to know? How will this benefit the team? What questions might they have about this change? Thinking through these questions will help decide the way communications are structured and the different touchpoints needed. If managers need to take action to help their teams, communicators should consider providing talking points or having a manager walkthrough. If trainings are needed, they should be communicated with enough time for employees to plan their schedules accordingly. It’s also important to be transparent about the change, especially if it’s a serious one. Don’t avoid difficult communication because it’s difficult — be upfront with what you know and honest about what you don’t. This will earn you more respect and trust, which can make the change go more smoothly.
If you’re launching something exciting, change management communications can be an opportunity to step out of the box. Back to the intranet example, think of creative ways to communicate this. Could you have a contest to increase user adoption? Are their teasers you could share leading up to the change? This is another way to get employees involved and feel like they are part of the change.
Be Open to Change After the Change
Even the best laid plans can hit a snag or encounter an unexpected roadblock. That’s okay. Being flexible and able to adapt is critical to tackling these obstacles. Address any issues head-on and adjust accordingly. If it affects employees, keep them updated on what’s changing and why, and be sure to tie it back to the original goal of the change to help keep the main objective in focus.
You may also want to consider a survey to employees after the change takes place. This will help you determine what’s working and what needs to be addressed. This also gives employees an opportunity to stay involved in the change and allows them to have their voice heard. They offer unique perspectives and insights that can help ensure your change remains successful long after the fact. And by being open to hearing their feedback, you’re demonstrating how important they are to the company’s business objectives which will likely instill confidence and buy-in for future changes.
Proper change management requires thoughtful planning and multiple players to make it happen, from C-Suite to individual contributor. Reach out to Addison Group today to help you with your change management initiatives. We’ll partner with you to help you reach your business goals and ensure your company is set up for success every step of the way.