Managing a Change

Posted in management by Christopher R. Wirz on Wed Mar 16 2016

Note: For this post, assume you are a leader.

Managing a change-oriented project has many considerations. This can include a new diversity and inclusion initiative, a large process change or new policy. In the past management decisions are rolled out to employees with a few orders in hopes of a successful adoption.

Good leaders know they must first assess the organization's capacity for change. In many cases, organizations change too much/often. This comes from constantly monitoring competition, customers and industry. Trying to do everything that industry does is usually beyond an organization's capacity for change. Two or three changes a year is plenty.

There also must be a valid case for change. This is usually a business case. The most obvious example is saving time or money. Other times it is to grow the business or increase capability.

When presenting a business case, it should be explainable in one or two pictures, statistics, or videos. This makes it easier to show the need for change. Along with this presentation should be a plan. The plan depicts the communication and a roll-out that will ensure success. The team is also part of the plan.

A leader should consider how a plan will go wrong. This includes people who might resist the change. The plan details exactly how to deal with predictable challenges.

For individuals who may challenge the plan, they should be given attention prior to the roll-out. This can be a conversation that will stress the importance of the initiative, get their input, and maybe get them to be members of the roll-out team. Addressing their apprehensions helps with the communications plan.

The main message of the communication plan must be coherent and compelling. It should address changes to work, resources or benefits. The right communication channel matters. This could be a CEO speech, email announcements or departmental meetings. Messaging must remain consistent across channels.

Any required training must be provided. This could involve new software to be learned, new forms or procedures. After this learning is complete, the roll-out begins.

As soon as the roll-out starts, it begins affecting people. This is when the most resistance is faced. Find those who are not on-board, pull them aside, find the root cause and help them support the initiative. Celebrate any successes for early adopters. Monitor the adoption process. In a short amount of time, this change will become the new norm.

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