A Guide to Change Management
What is change management?
Change management involves preparing, supporting, and helping organizations and the teams and individuals within them make changes. There are many different types of change management. They can include introducing new software, creating a new management structure, acquiring a new company, or adapting to a new budget. No matter what the change is, the overall goal of change management is to get people on board with the changes and implement the changes as smoothly as possible.
Understanding the change management steps is crucial to successfully implementing change management. They include deciding to make a change, getting the right people in place to lead the charge, selling the idea to your organization, beginning the implementation, and working out any problems that arise. There is no one set approach to change management. Exactly what you will need to do will depend on how your organization is set up and what you’re trying to accomplish.
What’s important is that you understand the core principles of change management so that you’re able to adapt them to your organization. Keep in mind that change never really goes as expected, so even your best plans may need adjustments once you begin the real-world implementation.
The Importance of Change Management in an Organization
To understand the importance of change management in your organization, it’s important to see the direct impact of change management. According to McKinsey, on average, companies with great change management gain 143% of the returns they expected. Here’s how they did it.
Change Management Aligns Teams Within An Organization
One of the most important aspects of a change management plan is getting all the teams on board with the change and outlining exactly what role they will play. That builds teamwork not just during the change but in future projects where the teams will work together.
Change Management Creates Efficiency and Effectiveness
Lack of change management can lead to a disaster as no one knows who’s in charge or what needs to be done. People may also try to resist change. With a proper plan in place, you can be more likely to skip all of that and go right to putting your plan in place.
Change Management Reduces the Time Needed to Implement Change
Inefficiency means time lost, and if you don’t spend time planning ahead, you’ll have to spend time figuring out what to do later. When you have change management tools in place from the beginning, you only need to spend the time you already planned for.
Change Management Makes a Positive Change to the Bottom Line
Time is money both in extra salary costs and in delays in putting your plan to increase profits into action. Planning for change also helps you work out if it really will make you money instead of just trying something that may end up not working.
Change Management Creates an Opportunity to Create Best Practices
In most organizations, you do many things only because that’s the way it’s always been done. When you plan for change, you can take the time to figure out the best way to do things without getting resistance from people who want to stick to the old ways.
When is Organizational Change Management Necessary?
An example of change at work can show you why organizational change management is necessary. Here are several change management examples of situations where strategies for implementing change can help your business.
When There’s Something New Taking Place
Let’s say you’re going to start selling a new product. Everyone in your organization needs to know how to support it and it likely won’t be exactly the same as what you’ve offered before. That means getting sales, support, and everyone else all on the same page.
When Something Needs to be Fixed
You may have a process that’s been costing you time and money. However, that process is probably in place because someone liked it. Other people just think making changes takes extra work. An organizational change management process helps you to not just make the fix but to make sure it actually gets followed so it really solves your problem.
When the Business Misses Goals
If your business misses goals, you obviously need to change something. However, you don’t want to allow finger-pointing or for people to feel unfairly singled out. Taking an objective, structured approach takes away the emotional reactions and gets everyone focused on figuring out the best way to move forward.
When a Teammate Starts or Leaves
No two people are identical, and when you make a new hire, you probably focus on different qualities than you did in your last hire due to changes in your business since then. Because of that, your goal isn’t just to train your new hire but to figure out the best way to use them.
3 Change Management Challenges to Watch For
There are also various hurdles and challenges that companies and teams need to overcome for change management to be successful. Here are three of the most common change management challenges to watch for.
Working with Multiple Teams
One of the biggest global leadership challenges in any context is trying to coordinate multiple teams. This comes into play even more so in change management because of the likelihood that one team may benefit more from the change than others, and some teams may even see a negative impact even though the change is good for the organization as a whole. Plus, there is a natural competitiveness and territoriality between teams no matter how well an organization integrates its teams. The change management leaders will need to work through all of these issues if the project is to be successful.
Handling Multiple Changes
Another one of the biggest change management issues is handling multiple changes at once. Most organizations are constantly evolving and can’t afford to be stagnant in one area while changes in another work. When implementing one change, it’s important to understand what other changes are in play and how they all interact with one another. You also need to have a plan for resolving conflicts that may have been missed during the planning stage when neither set of changes had been finalized.
Getting the Needed Information Out
One of the less complicated, but still important, change management topics is making sure that all teams have the information that they need. This includes the when and how of the changes that will be in place. Any manuals that workers rely on in their day-to-day tasks will also need to be updated so that everyone has the most current reference material to fall back on
5 Change Management Principles to Do Better Work
To successfully implement change management in your organization, follow these 5 key principles of change management.
1. Lead with Culture
One of the most important change management principles is to lead with culture. You can’t successfully implement change if you don’t have a culture of change. People need to see it not just as something they have to get through but as something that is important to the company’s long-term success.
2. Start from the Top
Change must come from the top. The role of managers in change management isn’t just to tell people what to do but to get them to understand the changes and why they’re happening. That’s the difference between getting resistance to change and having everyone actively participating in making the changes better the company.
3. Involve Everyone
An important project manager role in change management is to get everyone involved. Part of this is to make sure that everyone’s doing their job so that the changes stay on track. However, letting everyone feel involved in the changes also helps get the organizational buy-in you need for success.
4. Assess Needs
One of the most important change management steps is assessing the needs of the organization. Are the changes meeting those needs? Are new needs coming up during the change process that need to be addressed later? Do key players feel that their needs are being deprioritized and need to be reassured?
5. Adapt Regularly
Adapting regularly is key to executing your change management strategy. No matter how well you plan, nothing will ever go completely as expected. Planning doesn’t mean sticking to what you already decided. It means being prepared to adapt so that you meet your original goals even if it’s in a slightly different way than you first expected.