10 steps of an effective change management process
Here are our 10 change management process steps that help organizational changes get enacted successfully.
1. Develop a well-defined objective
To succeed, first you need to have a deep understanding of what success means. Define goals as specifically as possible so you know you’ve reached them. Remember to align your objective with the company’s business goals and mission statement.
2. Assess your organization’s readiness
Next, analyze the company’s readiness for the change. Assess the history and culture of the business. Is the change incremental or a radical departure from standard procedures? Are there other major organizational changes happening? See what employee groups will be most affected and get reports on those workers.
This information can be used to predict where pockets of reluctance may form and allow you to deal with potential objections before they have a chance to fester. This keeps morale up during the transition.
3. Sell management and key stakeholders
Key decision makers and management need to be unified for a change to succeed. It is difficult enough when lower level employees resist, but if powerful leaders within the organization don’t buy in, it spells a death sentence for the process. That’s why the first two steps are so important.
Management will be an easier sell if you have a defined objective that aligns with company culture, and you’ve performed a detailed readiness evaluation. Gather feedback and modify the proposal as necessary. The leaders will surely have insights you haven’t considered.
4. Create a communication plan
Once the decision-makers approve a change, enable a solid communications platform. Communication throughout the corporate hierarchy is crucial. Upper management needs frequent updates. Lower level employees need to feel as if management hears their concerns and feedback.
Communication has a profound effect on the desire of all team members to drive change. If management communicates pertinent information at the correct times throughout the process, it makes the entire situation more transparent and digestible. This sets you up for success.
This step is where your business could use the LumApps Social Intranet to great effect. This platform makes communication easy. It features fun, social media-inspired tools that foster connection and engagement.
5. Set practical milestones
Organizational change is a long journey. You must have practical goals set up along the way. This provides everyone — management and lower-level employees — with a sense of progress along the path. Celebrate these accomplishments as they’re reached. It improves morale and drives everyone to push forward toward the overarching goal.
Set milestones that are achieved early on in the process. The initial period of a major change is very important for employee attitude. People need to experience the sense of accomplishment early on in a project to maintain a healthy outlook. It prevents them from feeling as if they’re stuck spinning their wheels.
6. Identify key performance indicators
Go into more detail with your performance metrics. General milestones are great, but you need to capture more comprehensive data sets. You don’t need to share this information with everyone in the company, but members of the change team need to have an accurate, up-to-date snapshot of the situation. This helps track progress and any changes to the speed of that progress. You may need to develop additional tools to gather this data if you find that you can’t capture it adequately.
7. Find and mitigate obstacles
Expect obstacles and resistance throughout the process. Your readiness assessment will have already listed potential problem areas, and you should be prepared for those. However, be aware that obstacles will surprise you. You will run into unforeseen issues you need to deal with promptly.
Don’t put roadblocks on the back burner or assume they will take care of themselves. Be proactive when they crop up, listen to feedback and make the most informed decisions for your company. Come up with novel solutions. Is more training needed? Do new systems need to be created to support the changes? Do employee job descriptions need to be updated to capture the new workloads more accurately? Do whatever it takes to remove the barriers to change.
8. Analyze the company’s implementation regularly
Now that you’ve defined your key performance indicators, track them meticulously. You may have to hire new data scientists or introduce new software that collates and interprets vast amounts of data. We live in an era of groundbreaking AI (artificial intelligence) and machine-learning algorithms that can provide the insights you need to steer the company toward the end goal.
Data is power and the company’s change team should look at the data daily. Don’t just track when milestones are hit, but look for interesting trends in the information received between milestones. This helps keep everyone pushing in the right direction.
9. Adjust as necessary
Treat nothing as if it was written in stone. The point of making organizational changes is to adapt to market conditions, and you should have the same philosophy for the change process itself. If you find there are aspects that are failing to meet expectations continually, you will have to adjust the change process to better fit reality.
Remember, there is no perfect plan and you’re not admitting defeat by altering it. Would you rather implement a slightly different change and achieve important goals? Or, keep the plan the same, but fail to execute it entirely?
10. Review after implementation
So, you made it to the happy 30 percent group. Fantastic! Celebrate the accomplishment. Afterwards, you should do a full review of the process. Identify areas of great success and areas that gave you the most problems. Attempt to figure out ways to accentuate the successes and minimize the problems so that your next change project goes even more smoothly. Tailor future policies regarding your change management process to address your company’s specific needs.
The key takeaway is to foster a corporate culture that embraces change. The days of blue chip companies resting on their laurels for decades are over. Businesses need to adapt or fall behind the competition. Following our guidelines for a change management process will help you, but a deeper commitment to drive change must permeate through all levels of the company. Only then can you be confident the business will evolve and keep its place in the marketplace.