Ask ten people about change management and you’ll get ten different opinions as to what steps are required. But the process of guiding change in the workplace doesn’t need to be overly complicated by adhering to a certain number of steps; every organization and every department is different. Instead, focus on the high-level concepts related to change management and customize your change management process around them.
Identify a Need
Implementing change just because someone likes the idea isn’t an ideal strategy for success. The most successful change comes where there’s a genuine need for it. That need should be aligned with company values, objectives, and goals. When people can clearly see the connection between what they’re being asked to do and how it relates to their job, they may be less likely to resist change. Having a clearly identified need also improves the ability to plan for implementing change; there’s a specific goal that can be returned to again and again throughout the process, like the X on a map: you know that whatever path you take, you need to get to that spot.
Develop a Plan
A key part of change management is developing a plan that moves an organization from idea to implementation smoothly and on an appropriate time frame, given the size or scope of the change desired. Planning for change management may include resource allocation, from budget to personnel, as well as acquiring or developing training tools. The change management plan should be specific enough to be effective yet flexible enough to adapt to unforeseen circumstances if needed. It also requires the identification and selection of metrics to evaluate the results of the change.
Many people already feel like change is hard; it’s even harder when they can’t see a reason for it. Ensure alignment across all communications so that employees are receiving consistent messaging every time the change is discussed. Think about multiple ways in which to deliver your communications about the change; some people are visual learners and some aren’t, for example; having an array of messaging that varies by method can ensure the greatest understanding among your employees and therefore, a greater level of engagement and commitment.
When it’s time to implement change, it’s important to adhere to the plan while understanding that, given the time that’s elapsed from planning to roll out, some details may need to be adapted. The commitment and enthusiasm of upper level managers and leaders can strongly influence the success of the roll out among front-line staff.
Measurement and Support
A critical element of change management is evaluating whether the change has effectively met the identified need. Use data collection and feedback for assessment. Regardless of the level of success, understand that ongoing support for change is important, especially as some departments may be affected more severely than others and that can cause intense reaction and resistance.
Change management can be an effective method for initiating, planning, organizing, and implementing change in the workplace. While various models provide differing number of steps, the overall approach to change is the same, making change management adaptable to suit any organization.