Change Management - why it is important (and always will be for humans)
Change is everywhere in our lives. Always has been, always will be. The world we live in looks different to what it did 10, 20, 50 years go. The phone in your hand is different every year. The environment in which you work has changed considerably over the last decade. The food you eat, and the drink you drink, are different. You communicate with other people in a very different way to what you did when you were younger. And that’s just the obvious stuff.
Change is a very human thing, but we all experience it very differently. Some people love it, some people hate it. How people respond to it is very contextual – your familiarity with the area being changed, the culture you are in, etc.
Understanding this is key to ensuring success in Transformation projects - where change is central - and having a plan for managing this change, and the humans who undergo it, is paramount to successful project implementation.
Transformation projects fail at the best of times, and many of those reasons involve improper management of change. Having a Change Plan allows you to tackle resistance to change, provide support to those undergoing change, ensure change is implemented smoothly, and gives stakeholders peace of mind that you are not wasting time and money.
In order to develop an adequate change plan, its key that you:
• Build change management in from the start. It is not a bolt-on at the eleventh hour.
• Understand the people who the change is going to effect. Tailor the change plan to their needs.
• Understand the culture in which change is occurring. Identify and champion its strengths, not focus on what needs to go.
• Reign in senior management dictation. It is great to have them onboard – in fact, you need them on board – but they can’t be seen to be dictating the change. Deal with this at the earliest opportunity.
• Identify respected middle management and get them to be the change that is sought. Leaders need to lead.
• Find and empower those individuals in the organisation who will help fly the flag. They always exist.
• Ensure the front line are engaged and supported at all cost. Reward those who embrace the change.
• Consider the pace of change. Too much, too fast, is tough for people to get their head around.
• Create a coherent and articulate comms and engagement strategy. Nothing undermines you more than mixed messages.
• Keep everyone up-to-date with progress. It minimises shell-shock and the negative fall-out that comes with it.