Lets face it: unsought change can be painful. New software roll-outs, mergers and acquisitions, outsourcing departments, in-sourcing departments, office relocation, process changes, new technology installations, company reorganizations – all of these events constitute changes that can be unpopular, expensive and stressful particularly if they do not meet expectations. But, change doesn’t have to be painful. At the very least, the pain of change can be minimized and at the very best it can lead to a delightful transformation. And that transformation, my friends, is what good change management consulting is all about.
A successful implementation of any initiative should produce increased profitability through increased net revenue or decreased costs or else why initiate it? But far too often, expectations are not met and months if not weeks after go-live C level executives and/or board members are questioning the wisdom of the change made. In many of these cases, it wasn’t the change itself that was the problem – the problem was that the new behaviors required to make the change a success weren’t there. For example, software applications can have all the best features in the world, but if users aren’t willing or knowledgeable enough to embrace those features, your company will never see the benefits. Optimal transformation to that more profitable state will not be realized. But proper change management does address behavioral changes and even attitudes to help inspire your team to make a true transition.
I like to think of change management that leads to successful transformation in terms of three major components: stakeholder analysis, communication, and training. Of course there are many moving parts among those three components which I will touch on in this blog during the coming months, but let’s keep it simple for now.
- Stakeholder analysis involves understanding the hearts and minds of your stakeholders (employees, vendors, customers, shareholders, etc.), assessing how your initiative will affect them, and identifying associated risks to the success of the change. Project teams often skip this step or minimize it believing they already know stakeholders issues or that they are irrelevant. That strategy often results in unexpected delays or even disastrous road blocks.
- Communication encompasses the flow of information before, during, and after the change is implemented both within the initiative team and between the team and stakeholders. Too little communication and a void will be created that is usually not filled with good things. Too much communication and you can scare stakeholders with events that never end up coming to pass or over-promise and leave stakeholders disgruntled. Proper change management helps your team get the right amount of communication delivered at the right time and in the right format.
- Training is how stakeholders learn what behavioral changes will be required to make the change successful and how they will be manifested. Without proper change management, training is often neglected until late in the project and not given the attention it deserves to adequately prepare stakeholders for the change. Many training plans include some sort of end user instruction, but ignore or take for granted required process changes.
Giving these components the attention they deserve not only helps avoid project pitfalls, but also gets your organization engaged and often helps establish a sense of ownership needed to move from “change” to true “transformation.”
To learn more about how incorporating change management in your next initiative can help set your organization up for a successful transformation, check out my video How Can Change Management Help Me? or subscribe to this blog. In the meantime, please contact me with any specific questions either in the comments for this post or privately via email and as always wishing you a joyful, productive and successful day!