If change is the name of the business game, then change management is the key to winning the game. To boost the chance of success, you need an effective leader who can influence employee mindsets and behavior, so your employees become open and receptive to the change. The change could require implementing a new software system or it could be something much smaller like moving staff from one floor to another. Either way, the goal is to get your organization to adapt to and embrace the change with minimal damage to pockets, people, and processes.
It makes sense to break this blog topic into a two-part blog series. Part 1 (this one!) focuses on the core elements of change management. Part 2 (the next one!) is more subjective and discusses some attributes that an effective change management leader should possess.
Understanding Change Management
Prosci defines change management as, “The application of a structured process and set of tools for leading the people side of change to achieve the desired outcome.” No organization can survive being stagnant. Change is inevitable in today’s world, and will continue to be as we experience technological expansion especially at the rate technology is increasing. In a recent study by Gartner, 48% of HR leaders surveyed said that change management will be a priority in the coming year. To make any change successful, there must be a well-thought-out change management plan; a poorly enacted plan leads to failure. The organizational costs of a poor change management plan can range from low ROI to a costly Enterprise Resource Planning (“ERP”) system implementation that does not achieve its stated goals. That’s why change management is crucial (and not without its challenges) when leading digital transformations in the workplace.
The first step to leading change is to understand why the change is taking place. What are the benefits of the change? Will staff appreciate the change, or will their eyes roll? Get familiar with all the “ins and out” and figure out how you’ll achieve the project’s goals.
Put pen to paper, collaborate with your team, gather baseline analytics on the current system to compare to the post-implementation system, and document the change management plan. Identify all stakeholders and communication methods involved in the project. Also make sure to identify SMART goals, objectives, and the specific tactics on how to go about getting the work done, by whom, and by when.
Now would be a good time to identify and appoint change agents, or leaders of change, in each department. These should be people you trust, people who systematically understand why the change is happening, and people who are committed to seeing it successfully through to the end. It should be obvious at this point, but a change agent CANNOT be resistant, hostile, or critical of the change.
Now that you and your team have created the change management plan, identified responsibilities, and set goals, you are ready to put the plan into action. Communication becomes fundamental at this point. Clear, regular, and transparent communication guarantees everyone is on the same page, that they know what’s expected of them, and that they’re familiar with their roles and responsibilities. They need to be kept up to date on the project status and the progress the organization is making throughout the change process. Don’t forget to commend staff for all the good work they’ve done!
Don’t worry if you’re still getting some resistance to the change from people as you work through the project. That doesn’t mean you’ve failed. To help these outliers overcome resistance and get them more adaptive to change, have them play some sort of role in the implementation so they feel involved and that they are contributing to the success of the project.
Inadequate training and disengagement can lead to an annual loss of approximately $550 billion. So, make sure to identify all the training that is necessary to get staff familiar with and comfortable working with the new processes and ERP software. There is no point in making any change if the education and skills training don’t follow. What’s the use of a new system if no one knows how to use it? Training is a great opportunity to showcase how the change positively impacts people and will help staff succeed tomorrow. Proper training also increases change adoption, which in turn, increases employee engagement – a true win win!
Monitor, Measure & Celebrate Successes
So, what happens once the project is complete? You don’t just go home and call it a day. This is where data analytics comes in. So take those baseline numbers you gathered earlier and compare them with the numbers generated from the new ERP system. Present these findings to staff to prove the positive results of the change. People can then visually see the impact of their efforts. Relate the results to people in a manner they understand, by using data from their day-to-day jobs and duties.
Equally as important, but often forgotten, is acknowledging, and celebrating the successes, even the small ones. This builds confidence and engagement, resulting in higher retention, morale, and productivity for the organization. Plus, celebrating is just plain fun.
Now that you know some of the best practices an effective change management leader can employ, stay tuned for the second part of this blog series. We’ll review some specific attributes that an effective leader should possess.
We understand the risks and challenges involved in change management. With our wide range of business experience and accounting expertise, we’re able to guide businesses through the tenacious process with confidence, trust, and success. Contact Forbes Andersen Technology Inc. for more details, or to help initiate the change management process in your workplace.