- What is Change Management? Part 1
- Change Management Statistics Part 2
- 16 Principles of Change Management Part 3
What is Change Management?
Change Management is the intersection of change and project management. It represents how business leaders manage processes, systems, organizational structure, job roles, and overall morale during a time of transition within a company.
Changes can be anything from realigning goals to become more efficient for customers or dealing with a mass turnover situation. These can be “make-or-break” times where business leaders decide how they are going to guide departments through the designated shake-up. One of the largest feats associated with change management is getting everyone from senior leadership to employees of all levels to accept and become comfortable with the change. If people cannot see their way clearly, then systems and structures within the business can collapse. This makes it critical for every organization to have someone who is adept at managing all of the processes associated with the change.
One of the most critical aspects of change is conveying the messaging of what exactly is changing. If people are in the dark about what a new project will bring or how the company will fill new roles that have suddenly been left vacant, people can make up their own opinions about what is going to happen.
Change management also requires leaders to identify key stakeholders; these can be department heads, senior management, and influential employees. Then leaders need to create a coalition involving these people to help convey the messaging of the change and how the organization is preparing to address it. This type of management also allows leaders to make a case for why the change is needed and set the expectation for what employees can expect going forward.
Free online tools for work:
1. Fluxes.com — Free Project and Task Management Software
2. Status.net — Software for Effective Communication
Change Management Statistics
Many real-world reasons convey the importance of having a change management plan of action. With the threat of changing consumer tastes and volatile economy leaders always have to prepare their companies for a transition.
- According to a study by Leadership IQ, only 35 percent of leaders are “actively” or “frequently” sharing the challenges the company is facing with internal teams. Since challenges lead to change, it is problematic that companies are not more transparent about what changes they will take to address these issues. People will not understand the reason for the change if one needs to be made.
- 70 percent of efforts to create change within an organization fail. These are the behaviors that lead to those failures:
A. Management does not support the change – 33 percent
B. Employees are resistant to change – 39 percent
C. Inadequate resources or budget – 14 percent
D. Miscellaneous obstacles – 14 percent
- A global 2013 Strategy and Katzenbach Center Study revealed that 65 percent of employees were overwhelmed by the number of changes undertaken at one time within their respective companies, and 44 percent did not understand the details of the changes they needed to make. Along with those statistics, 33 percent did not even agree with the changes they were prepared to undertake.
There are a lot of factors as to why organizational change is difficult for those tasked with leading it. These statistics show two critical issues that change managers need to address: employee perception and adequate communication.
The Challenges of Change Management
To develop a comprehensive change management plan, leaders have to acknowledge the obstacles that could come their way and how to address them.
If a majority of employees are not on board with changes then this can tank a transition quickly. As a result, they may not make implementation a priority which will cause productivity to suffer. This can happen if organizational culture is not acknowledged, communication is not clear, and employees are left out of all decision-making.
Planning for a company-wide transition can be overwhelming and stressful. These two factors can cause leaders to leave out vital details and essential stakeholders who need to be involved in conversations about changes. Each aspect of the rollout needs to be addressed, and potential employee and customer responses need to be mapped out.
A Lack of Communication
The above study conducted by Legendary IQ revealed that organizational leaders are not always transparent about challenges the company is facing. Therefore, when changes are brought to employees, they do not have context for why these transitions need to occur. Organizations can preempt questions ill feelings about changes if they are honest with employees about challenges before a massive change.
Nothing can derail a transition quicker than a lack of management commitment. There may be some executives who feel the change is needed, while others do not agree and will use office politics to convey their dislike. This is why it is vital to start from the top and involve all management in initial conversations about the plan and why it is critical to the success of the company.
The Principles of Change Management
Diagnosing the Problem
Before any changes can take place, a problem has to be identified. Pioneer of the Toyota Production system, Taiichi Ohno developed a simple way to locate issues within a company. His method is known as the “Five Whys.” He would take one process and ask why it did not produce the intended result. This would then lead to four more question that would hopefully allow those asking to arrive at the root cause for the problem. Ultimately, it would lead to a conversation about how to fix the root cause. A method such as can be implemented on a wide scale and involve surveys and focus groups to identify problem areas to address.
Lead with the Culture
It is crucial to take into account a company’s existing culture. The organizational culture informs the way people interact with each other, behave, and work together within the company. Addressing this will help leaders to overcome any resistance that will be attached to an already established culture. It may be informal and “soft,” but leaders cannot ignore the effect this has on an attempt to bring any change.
Start at the Top
To present any changes effectively to lower level employees, executives need to be united. If those who make up the C-Suite discuss changes and hash out their concerns, then it is easier for executives to answer questions managers may have and continue to work from the same page.
Involve Every Layer
While planning for a change rollout does need to start at the top, mid-level employees and those on the frontline need to be brought in not too long after. These people will be able to bring any logistical or technical concerns to the forefront that executives may not be privy to because of their positioning. They can also present a perspective of how this might impact customers and how their own teams will take the change. The input of mid-level employees and leaders will smooth out most glitches because if anyone is aware of how this will impact the frontline, it is this group.
Change leaders cannot manage the challenging task of getting everyone on board themselves. Leaders need to bring in internal people with stated power (such as executives), as well as informal leaders (influencers, veteran employees, and stakeholders other employees will trust).
Transitioning can be made a lot more comfortable if business leaders find out who these people are and involve them in the plan to help everyone adjust to the new changes.
These groups can make up a coalition that can help disperse the message about the changes, put people at ease, and get their own teams on board.
Provide Clear Instructions
Leaders should take their coalition and help them spread the word about the transition. Employees should receive clear and logical reasons for the change as well as easy-to-understand instructions for how to implement it. This will involve a lot of smaller meetings, training managers on how to correctly convey transition details, and surveys to identify questions that may need to be addressed in a broader setting.
It won’t be easy for employees to immediately adhere to the transition due to learning curves and old habits. This is why it is imperative for leaders to outline immediate behaviors and actions that employees can take within days of the transition to help things move along smoothly.
This is one of the most crucial elements of rolling out a change. From the first rumblings of a company-wide transition to the initial meetings concerning implementation, business leaders need to keep a high-level of transparency with all internal stakeholders. If employees sense that backroom deals and concessions are being made without being informed of the specific decisions, then it is likely that panic and negative feelings will take root. Business leaders should communicate effectively ensuring there is nothing to hide.
This goes hand-in-hand with communication. Preparing staff for change takes time and patience. Change managers should develop a comprehensive training program that requires all employees to participate that not only teaches them new principles and techniques, but can also serve as a Q&A session to address lingering questions and concerns.
Questions and Concerns
As stated above in the Katzenbach study, nearly 44 percent of employees were not aware of how they were supposed to implement the indicated changes. Therefore, it is vital for managers and leaders always to leave opportunities for questioning. This can be in the form of online and open-door sessions where individuals can inquire about how this change will directly impact them.
Formal and Informal Solutions
A. Formal Solutions
Company transitions of any kind may require a change of policies and procedures. Therefore, leaders have to keep track of how changes impact employee handbooks, HR policy, company objectives, or any other formal and official documentation that needs to be handled and conveyed to employees.
B. Informal Solutions
This is where reminders of history, tradition, and company culture come in. When times get rough, it pays to remember the anchors that can hold a team together. Motivational messages, an internal newsletter, open-door policies, and getting company influencers on board are informal but are just as important as formal solutions.
It is vital for business leaders in charge of change management to ensure that all levels of employees are held accountable for how the implement new methods. Leaders have to set clear expectations and rules for how internal stakeholders facilitate a transition project. Holding team members accountable also gives employees a sense of ownership which in turn makes them more invested in the changes taking place.
Change can be overwhelming and difficult, that is why it is essential for business leaders to acknowledge positive steps all employees are making in transitions. This can be through a company gathering or a simple “thank you,” to let employees know their efforts are acknowledged and appreciated. In turn, this can also be used as a motivator to keep the favorable work effort going.
While ongoing assessment is key, there needs to be a plan for ongoing sustenance. Scenarios where employees can build upon the changes made to bring innovation to the company can only be accomplished if there is ongoing training, education, and a culture of support. Workers need to know that their development in relation to the transition is just as important (or even more so) as the change itself.
Assessing the development of change is not a one-off task. It should be something that should be a regular part of policies and procedures. Finding out what works and what doesn’t (no matter how large or small) will allow leaders the opportunity to jump on any potential problems before they become larger.
As stated above, a transition might be failing for a number of reasons, but no one will know if there is not any data to support why it is happening. Leaders need to focus on gathering quantitative and qualitative data that assesses the progress of transitions. This will inform them if all is going according to plan or if some tweaks need to be made. This simple step can prevent an overall failure in the future.
We live in a digital world, so it is to the advantage of leadership to use it to aid in communication efforts. Status.net feeds can be used to provide regular updates about transition, gather data from employees (including obstacles they face), and outline ways employees can reach back to ask questions.
Change is never easy, and when a whole company of different individuals with a variety of opinions and attachments to the group are involved, then it becomes even more complicated to implement change. Therefore, it is essential for leaders to develop a comprehensive plan to handle potential problems and communication breakdowns.
Status.net is a cloud solution for effective communication during organizational change. It brings a more light-hearted tone to messaging making it easily digestible, and makes it easy for leaders to provide and receive updates regularly, as well as to have open door policies to address any issues.
How to use status.net during organizational change:
- Downward communication:
a) Build trust and improve leadership communication by sharing regular updates and reasoning behind your decisions.
b) Share information about company announcements, new hires, etc.
c) Share company goals and objectives regularly.
- Upward communication:
a) Easily implement weekly status updates for your team members by creating a status feed “How did you contribute to the team’s goals this week?”.
b) Create automated scheduled questionnaires with questions like “How can we improve?”.
Status.net allows you to configure granular access permissions to set up who can view the answers (optional).
- Increase workplace satisfaction by improving transparency:
Each status update has a separate section for comments, which is used by team members to clarify information, and by leaders to provide feedback and coordinate better without micromanagement, post congratulations and acknowledge job well done.
- For recurrent questionnaires: no one forgets to answer because status.net sends automated reminders according to the recurrence schedule you chose.
- Use status updates for future reference and decrease time and efforts spent on monthly, quarterly, and yearly reporting thanks to powerful filtering and export features.
- Optionally, enrich reports with the latest updates automatically added from web apps your team uses (such as project management tools, version control systems, support systems, financial applications, CRM, etc.) by connecting these apps to your status feed.
- Spend less time on meetings by making them more productive because everyone is on the same page at all times.
- Sharing: Status updates can be either— exported to files and printed, or sent by email;
— shared with manager online; or
— shared online as company-wide or team-wide status reports, i.e., all team members share their progress with each other.
How to configure status updates:
- Create a “Status Update” feed and set up a recurrence.
- Configure who will write and read status updates by choosing the “Participants” tab and then clicking the “Cog” button near “Feed Participants” title.
- Set the status feed as “Team-wide” if you want all team members to view each other’s status updates.
- Alternatively, you can allow access to status updates for certain participants only (such as yourself if you’re a team lead). In this case, turn “Team-wide” mode OFF and restrict viewing by unchecking “View” properties for other participants. Team members with the “View” checkbox unchecked will only be able to view their own status updates.
- If you’re a manager and you don’t plan to share your status updates with your team, uncheck “Update” for yourself – in this case, you won’t receive reminders.
- The Recurrence setting configures how often participants receive email reminders to fill in their status updates. This feature is optional and can be turned off.
- You can add, remove, and assign new team members at any time.
Step 2: The text of the status update should be added to the “Update” field of status feed.
As soon as a new status update is added, participants with “View” rights can view it in real time when they log in to their accounts. They will also automatically receive emails with the full text of status updates.