Change Management: Embracing Discomfort of Change
What is Change Management?
Change management (CM) is a process that allows organizations to plan for and roll out changes. It is especially useful when making changes to your IT infrastructure. Some benefits of Change Management include smoother transitions, prioritization of planned updates/changes, easier training schedules, and securing staff buy-in. Most importantly, Change management helps organizations plan for and mitigate risk.
Types of Change Management:
Incremental is easier to implement because it does not require looking too much into the future. The changes are small, and do not require too many stakeholders to be involved in the process.
Transformational is much more challenging because it requires looking into the future and making “predictions” about process improvements that will ultimately change the entire way tasks are completed (think migrating from one database to another). Since transformational change requires a complete overhaul to processes (impacting several, if not all stakeholders), it also implies a need for a cultural change in order to ensure success of process improvements. Here lies the biggest challenge of transformational change, the cultural shift required of staff.
How to make change less “threatening” to staff?
Any type of change can be scary, whether at work or in our personal lives, which is why part of creating a change management plan requires an ability to appeal to people’s problem-solving and emotional sides.
Human beings are natural problem-solvers and thrive on finding solutions to challenges. This is why involving your stakeholders during the pre-planning or discovery phase of a project will ensure they are much more invested in the project and have a sense of ownership over it.
- In the example previously stated (migrating from one database to another), involving the end users who are challenged by everyday system issues will guarantee that pain points are more easily identified and therefore solved to meet their specific needs.
- This is where pre-work and planning is going to make a difference in guaranteeing that staff will use the solution that is implemented and that they will do so readily.
- Appealing to the emotional side can often be the most challenging aspect of change management, but it can be mitigated by being transparent, informative, and emphatic with staff throughout the change process. Making it clear what changes will take place, when those changes will take place, and what challenges to expect will go a long way in helping to curb the “discomfort” and bring a sense of direction to those who will be most heavily impacted by the change.
Change Management Toolkit
The following is a list of tools that can be used to create a change management plan. Each bullet lists a separate tool with sub-bullets to be covered within that particular tool.
Change proposal is used to identify and prioritize process/system pain points and make a case for change:
- Proposed Change
- Why Change is Required (Challenges)
- Intended Outcome(s)
- Potential Solutions & Risks
- Stakeholders & Roles
- Estimated Costs
Communications plan is used to plan out and communicate key messages with staff about the project from inception to implementation. Once a plan is developed, it is recommended to also implement a calendar with dates for planned communication, such as:
- Call to Action – information gathering process that invites staff to provide input/feedback about challenges with processes/system
- Announcement of Change
- Project Status Updates (throughout project)
- Change Log – used to track deliverables (what changed and when, the status, priority, outcome)
- Evaluation – used to determine the success of the project outcomes
- Project Success Criteria
In conclusion, change is inevitable and all organizations, irrespective of size or industry have to go through it. While you can’t avoid it, you can definitely plan for and execute it well. Start working on your change management plan today to increase your organizational efficiency and mitigate risk. Don’t know where to start? Contact us today and let us create a change management plan tailored to your organization’s current and future needs.