Successful change management is inherently tricky. Why? Because the majority of planning for change is strategic and not set in stone in the same way that solving a math problem, or studying metrics, is.
When you solve a math problem, there is, most often, one right answer. When you plan for organizational change, however, there can be multiple actions that produce multiple useful results. Some better than others.
Successful change management is about the way you prioritize strategies to leverage results when you need them. To be a successful change manager, you must be able to theorize and estimate the effects of certain change management actions on your organization. When you can do this well, you become able to shift the organization much more easily without being caught in a state of analysis paralysis.
You won’t have to search for the most immediate satisfactory answer to a change management issue. Instead, you will be able to gain the perspective that allows you to optimize your thinking, and choose the best possible answer.
I argue, however, that each and every action that a change manager takes should effectively keep one thing in mind. All actions should help increase employee commitment, and avoid employee compliance.
The difference here is vitally important to effective change management. Commitment occurs from an employee who actively sees the benefits of change and wishes to change. Compliance occurs in employees who are afraid of the consequences of NOT changing.
More specifically, the consequences incurred by superiors who may “pull rank” or subordinate the employee further. Telling an employee to do something “because you said so” is a way of gathering compliance, not commitment. Explaining the benefits and importance of the employee’s actions will gather commitment.
Now that we have the basics of the mindset behind change management down, let’s discover some more key ways to make change management initiatives more successful!
Use Change Management Techniques for Every Project
Studies published in 2004 by PriceWaterhouseCoopers concluded that there is an undeniable correlation between the effectiveness of general project initiative when they are accompanied by change management techniques and practices.
In other words, the top-performing organizations almost always incorporate change management practices into their standard project initiatives in order to gauge and control how the project influences their employees.
I believe this study shows the direct importance that change management and organizational behavior have on the effectiveness and alignment of management abilities.
The benefits of employing change management during small and large projects are extremely vital to organizational success in the long-run. Think about this: The most important aspect of any organization is the people that run it. That is to say, any business is a conglomeration of its individual moving parts.
No King would be king without a kingdom, so to speak. Therefore, every business leader should recognize the importance of each and every one of their employees. This is why change management is so important to the success of any project initiative.
The goal of change management is to address the people side of business. Therefore, considering the nature of change and its effects on your employees is a natural and necessary course to take for all organizational leaders.
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of an Impact Analysis
An IBM study in 2008 noted that realistic insight and planning that comes from the impact analysis of a change is one of the 4 key activities that can make a change effective.
The goal of an impact analysis is to determine two main things: The COMPLEXITY of a change, and the COVERAGE of a change.
Change Complexity: How difficult is this change going to be to implement on an individual basis? Is there special training involved? How long before implementation can begin? Are unique resources needed? Etc.
Change complexity is about how long and difficult it will be for just one person to completely accept and implement the change initiative. This way, you can use this information to determine what kinds of resources and timeline you are looking at to make the entire change initiative successful over ALL key employees.
Change Coverage: How many people will be affected by this change? Is it a person change (ex. changing the CEO)? Is it a systems change (ex. shifting SOP’s)? Or is it a structure change (ex. flattening the organization)?
Change coverage is about how many people the change will directly, and indirectly, affect. Consider the following. When you monitor change coverage, start at the end-user (the most operational employee affected by the change) and follow the connections between employees to determine how the change will affect others.
Proper Training for Change Leaders
Above all else, a good leader will keep the meaning behind a change intact and use that meaning to align best practices with the organization’s strategic vision.
Proper leadership is the single most important key initiative for successful change. In fact, a good leader will probably take action to incur commitment as opposed to compliance ALL the time, and not only during change initiatives.
Good leaders demand and receive trust from their employees – a key ingredient to successful change efforts and team performance – therefore, properly training management to think and act like change leaders is absolutely critical to the success of change initiatives.
There are 10 key qualities of leaders that I wrote in my article titled “The 10 Laws of Leadership” I’ll summarize the 10 points below.
The 10 Laws of Leadership (no order of importance):
Training leaders in these key leadership qualities, as well as the “commitment” mindset that I discussed in the introduction, will surely aid your organization is successful change efforts.
Properly Designating a Change Sponsor
In the same 2008 study by IBM, they mentioned that the appointment of a designated change manager increased the change initiatives by an impressive 19%. That is a staggeringly simple way to immediately leverage the success of change efforts with simple delegation (as mentioned in the 3rd point of The 10 Laws of leadership).
Designating a change leader may not be as black and white as it seems, but there is no denying the importance of the function. Therefore, I’ve written a book in which I describe the duties of an effective change-sponsor for you to appoint. Keep these duties and criteria in mind, and you could designate an effective change sponsor almost immediately.
I will summarize the duties of change sponsors below.
Change Sponsor Duties:
Adaptive Creativity: Being able to create solutions to problems in efficient and resourceful ways.
Unending Hunger for Learning: Constant intake of information to determine best practices.
Progress Tracking: Designating relevant metrics to determine success and progress.
Change Resistance: Managing interpersonal resistance to change among employees (breeding commitment).
Implementation: Rolling out change initiatives in a timely and effective way once planning is sufficient.
Communication: Properly communicating progress and mission of change to employees and relevant personnel.
Change Readiness Assessment: Planning for change by utilizing change readiness assessments to determine a starting point for change initiatives. (Read more on change-readiness assessments here)
Strategic Vision: Maintaining the course and influencing change based on the direction of the company’s mission statement and purpose.
Knowledge of Change Models: Knowledge of various change models and techniques to implement during change initiatives.
Properly Delegated Resources
Over the course of years, Prosci has studies the effectiveness of change initiatives and projects that meet objectives. They have discovered that proper change management techniques had an “above 80% success rate” whereas poor change management had a 50% success rate.
According to the study, one of the important factors was properly providing and delegating resources throughout the change process with support and employee engagement.
I argue that there are only two true resources an organization has: Money and Time. By discovering the possibilities behind these resources, and making the necessary delegations of these resources throughout the change management roadmap, you can increase engagement and commitment to change from your employee base.
– Subject Matter Experts
Time is a resource that an organization must consider in terms of productivity and onset schedules. Onset schedules are the designated times for the change effort to take place and become fully-implemented.
Communicating Clear Vision of Benefits
The second stage of the ADKAR model is desire, and there is likely no better way to instill a desire to change than communicating the benefits that change will produce on both an organizational AND individual scale.
The most common issue that change leaders make is believing that communication is equal to engagement and commitment. Remember, most employees within your organization see a check whether the organization does well or not. Therefore, the only way to instill a desire to change is by describing how the change benefits the individual’s own interests.
Often, you can utilize break-out sessions and seminars to gather intel on what motivates your employees, you can then leverage that information to create reward systems and other means of reinforcing good behaviors that are in line with your change efforts.
Doing this can build commitment, trust, and satisfaction with change initiatives from within the minds of employees.
Also, give the employees knowledge of the direction in which this change is intended to take the organization. The knowledge of this “bigger-picture” will help your employees make better decisions without the need for consistent supervision or micromanagement.
The importance of clear communications can’t be understated. Miscommunication costs are the resulting loss of motivation, understanding, and commitment from your employee base as a result of poor or misunderstood strategic direction. These costs will only increase the resistance to change from within the employees, which will be costly and time-consuming to overcome.
Hopefully, I have described some of the most important considerations of successful change initiatives for you to mull over. Utilizing these principles in your own change management initiatives will increase the success of your efforts by leaps and bounds.
I’ll summarize the main factors below!
Key Change-Success Factors:
– Utilize Change Management Techniques for Every Project
– Never Underestimate the Importance of Impact Analysis
– Properly Train Your Change Leaders
– Properly Designate a Change Sponsor
– Properly Delegate Your Resources
– Communicate Clear Benefits
Hopefully, I was able to help you manage change more effectively, to get in touch with me, please call (951) 833-2987 or send me a message on my website.
Thanks for reading!
-Austin Denison is a change management consultant from Southern California and founder/CEO of Denison Success Systems LLC. He is the author of The Essential Change Management Guidebook: Master The Art of Organizational Change as well as The Potential Dichotomy: The Philosophy of a Fulfilling Life.
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