10 Commandments of Organizational Change Management
This post is by Tara Seager and Yousuf Siddiqui of Ally Solutions Group. Learn more about Tara.
1. Thou shalt ... Identify the leader of the change.
Although it is true that everyone on the project team can be a leader and that the change can have many champions, usually there is one executive, the sponsor of the change, whose name is connected with the change. If the change goes well, this person will be a hero; if not, he or she will receive a black eye. It is crucially important to understand who this person is and to support them in their role in building a coalition of supporters and champions of the change. This is the most important element of a successful change plan.
2. Thou shalt ... Bake the product with resistance points in mind.
All too often, project teams jump into training and communication planning while their product (e.g. new process, technology or organizational structure) is still in early development. Teams are anxious to put pen to paper so that they can begin allocating resources and setting task dates, but they do not know the effects and impact to their target audience (i.e. recipients of the change). While the product is being baked, project teams, especially change managers, should spend their time understanding the implications of the product on the target audiences and anticipating the potential resistance points. Supplying this type of data back to the development team would enable them to better develop an end product with the user needs in mind.
3. Thou shalt ... Mobilize “the village.”
Change managers are often brought in to help a leader bring about change. Many leaders feel that it is their singular responsibility to implement the changes and navigate all of the political resistance that goes with it. It is important to identify that “it takes a village” and that forming a coalition of peer leaders and stakeholders that can help bring about the change, led by a strong sponsor, will enable change to happen more quickly and with less resistance.
4. Thou shalt ... Figure out who will be impacted by the change, directly or indirectly.
Usually change managers spend time figuring out how peoples’ roles and daily jobs will be affected by a change. People can either be directly or indirectly affected by the change. For example, it may be that you are implementing a solution that will replace one that a senior executive put in place a short time ago. The selection committee that chose the solution being replaced is indirectly affected because the new solution may signify that their decision was deficient. Make sure that you reach out to these people to understand how they feel about the change and how they will influence the change that you are trying to bring about.
5. Thou shalt ... Find out who or what is in your way.
It is important to identify people that are in support of the change, those that are indifferent and those that are in opposition. Supporters are a good source for identifying the benefits of the change because they clearly see them. People that are indifferent are the key population or the unknown variables in the change equation. Good change managers will find ways to get this group more energized about the change. People that are in opposition to the change may never come around. However, even if one or two of the people from this group convert, it is a big win for the change effort because these people can end up being the biggest evangelists for the change.
6. Thou shalt ... Adjust your plan, not your end state, based on the reaction to the change.
As a change manager, it is important not to be rigid about your plan. A plan gives a framework to your path, but it needs to be adjusted based on the ground reality. When implementing a change, you do not know how the receivers of the change will react to it until they are impacted. Human behavior can be hard to predict and this x- factor requires a Change Manager to be understanding and flexible in order to influence a change in thinking. You can redirect your plan but make sure that you do not compromise your intended outcomes in the process.
7. Thou shalt ... Find a way to figure out if the change has taken place.
This is often a difficult task and is ignored because it is so difficult. Adoption can be measured in a variety of ways. The key to defining metrics for a change is to make them easy to track. One tip is to determine adoption metrics that are linked to reinforcement qualifiers. The key is to define behaviors or processes that make it easy to recognize the change. It also helps to have a blend of qualitative and quantitative data points so that you have a comprehensive view.
8. Thou shalt ... Acknowledge loudly and publicly that the change has taken place.
Once you have established metrics and you see a positive trend, make sure to share this information with the project team. Bringing about change requires a lot of emotional energy and the journey is filled with peaks and valleys. If you can help your team by providing more peaks, do it. The reinforcement of positive behaviors supporting the change will be extremely important. Establishing ways for team members and end users to recognize and reward your end state will be a critical element to the success of your initiative.
9. Thou shalt ... Think about what the change means for you.
Change Managers that are emotionally invested in the change are usually persistent and tenacious as it relates to the change initiative and these traits are an asset. We all, however, go through our own change curve and it is important to consider what this means for you personally as a champion of the change. How does this affect you? How will you be helping people? How will you be impacting their lives? What does this change initiative mean to your career? These questions are important to think about and will impact your performance and the probability of success in your role as a Change Agent.
10. Thou shalt ... Work out your change muscles.
Just like most skills in life, change requires practice. Start looking at your change management ability as a muscle. As a leader, consider the role that this skill plays in your organization. Building CM bench strength in your organization is a key differentiator. Developing this type of competency and capability should be part of your core strategy. Your organization will become more nimble and more agile, whether the changes are coming from within the organization or responding to external needs. The more change agile your organization becomes, the easier it will be to realize the next change. Companies that focus their teams in this manner will see a competitive advantage over those that do not.