All organisations undergo change. Whether they are technology-driven, process updates, compliance changes, or company restructures. Companies may also choose to pivot to focus on a new market segment or place a new emphasis on customer service. Whatever the reason, it is worthwhile thinking of change as a constant and a necessary ingredient of company growth and profitability.
Maximising the benefits of change
The secret to effectively managing change is to have a very clear and consistent change management process. This allows organisations to minimise the adverse impacts that change can bring while maximising the benefits to employees and broader business goals.
The following 7 steps provide a blueprint of an effective change management process:
1. Establish the scope of the change
Change is normally initiated to improve a product, a process, or to achieve a certain outcome. But you would be surprised how often organisations fail to clarify exactly what the goal of the change process is before it starts. This is a huge mistake that can doom the entire process before it’s even begun. By having a clear scope and a defined set of goals you allow people to focus on what they need to do to achieve them. Otherwise, people drift along not completely sure where they’re supposed to be aiming. Establishing the scope also involves identifying the resources and individuals that will drive the change.
2. Create a business case that shows stakeholders why the change is needed
There can be many layers of stakeholders from upper management, to change champions and those tasked with directly implementing the new processes. Each group of stakeholders naturally have different sets of expectations and needs the message tailored to their specific goals in order for them to have genuine buy-in. So it’s important a business case is developed that takes into account the different needs of all stakeholders.
3. Plan the change
This is where a roadmap is produced that details the start of the change process, the path that will be taken, and the ultimate destination. It should include the resources needed, the scope, and costs. It can also outline the training, equipment, infrastructure, or IT systems required. The reason this step is important is that it demonstrates the change process is undertaken in steps, rather than occurring in one sweeping motion. It also helps avoid the temptation to simply take shortcuts to achieve the final goals.
4. Establish new benchmarks
Data gathering and analysis is an underutilised aspect of change management. Without setting benchmarks it isn’t possible to measure progress. That’s why it’s important to establish measurable targets and incentives so that progress can be tracked. Having clear benchmarks and tracking progress towards milestones and goals also enables meaningful progress reports to be generated, which helps maintain momentum and communicate to stakeholders how the process is progressing.
Good communication should form the backbone of effective change management. People are naturally reluctant to move away from what they’re familiar with so it’s vital that clear and open lines of communication are established at all stages of the process. Having transparent two-way communication means that all stakeholders have a genuine means to identify what is working as well as what isn’t, and enables people to be responsive and try new approaches.
6. Celebrate the wins
Change management is hard. And all significant change processes involve setbacks and challenges. That’s why it’s so important to celebrate the wins to maintain momentum and morale. Be sure to celebrate each milestone in the journey towards the final destination. Ensure that teams and individuals responsible for overcoming barriers or for delivering on each milestone are recognised for their efforts. This helps not only with morale and establishing a great company culture but also helps in the adoption of the change management process and the actual change itself.
7. Evaluate, adjust and continuously improve
Change management should be thought of as an iterative or ongoing process. Strategies will need to be adjusted during the process and approaches that work best incorporated into the plan. Include set points to stop and evaluate with key stakeholders what can be done better to achieve goals. And don’t forget the ongoing need for measurement and analysis so that success can be measured in meaningful ways.
Be the change
The maxim to “be the change you want to see” is a good one because it reminds change managers and stakeholders that no successful change at the organisational level occurs without action at the individual level. By recognising that change is inherently challenging, it is possible to view change as an exciting journey that benefits everyone rather than something enforced on employees from above. By having clearly identified steps in the change process, and being prepared to adjust strategies and approaches to what works best, it’s possible to make effective change management part of the DNA of your organisation.
Is your business currently going through change and transformation? Please get in touch about how we can help you find the right professionals to join your organisation and ensure a successful change management program.
You may also like to explore our 2023 Salary Survey for benchmarks and industry data on change management salaries.