Most of us are creatures of habit and find a rhythm to help us be more efficient. We need time to adjust when things change, sometimes for only the slightest of shifts. Many changes in the workplace are difficult and technical, like implementing a new software or system. However, the softer side of change is the most overlooked and significant part of that implementation. Some might think that coming into work and powering up the new system or software is as simple as turning a switch. Then, with a bit of online training to learn the functionality, success!
Creating a change management plan that ensures lasting results can be challenging for organizations. The following are my top 5 tips for creating a change management plan that makes changes stick and address the softer side of change:
Involve Stakeholders Early and Often
Completing a stakeholder analysis and identifying everyone that the change will impact is critical. A deeper look at the stakeholder groups and their influence, interest in the change, and current attitude towards those changes can provide key insights into possible resistance. This step will give you a perspective on engaging stakeholders from the start. This in-depth analysis will ensure that everyone knows that their needs and concerns will be addressed throughout the process. Communicating often with updates and relevant adjustments to the initiative can also help to build buy-in and support for the change while allowing you to monitor if any stakeholder perspectives change along the way.
Clearly Define the Change and its Benefits
A change management plan should clearly define the change, its purpose, and the benefits it will bring. It is human nature for stakeholders to approach the change with the mindset of, "What's in it for me? (WIIFM)." This perspective should be the priority in all communications. Focus attention on the end goal and ensure everyone is working towards the same objective, but address stakeholders with the WIIFM answer customized to their interests.
"A change management plan is crucial in ensuring that changes are implemented effectively and have a lasting impact. By acknowledging the softer side of change and utilizing these five tips, organizations can create change that sticks."
Communicate the Change
Clear, consistent communication is crucial in any change management plan. Ensure that all stakeholders are informed of the change and its progress and understand its implications. Regular updates, workshops, and training sessions can achieve this in varying ways. It is essential to repeat critical messaging many times. A good rule of thumb is to communicate the same message in different mediums at least 5 to 7 times. Repeating the message ensures that employees hear it. Stated simply, the messaging can never be shared or repeated too often.
Provide the Right Tools and Resources
Sustained change only happens with the proper support. Ensure everyone has the right tools and resources to implement the change successfully. This may include training, active support, and/or technology to help adapt to the change ensuring efforts are effective. People learn and receive information differently. Do not forget the softer side! Provide several tools, options, and a variety of help that address different learning styles. This additional work of customizing areas of the plan to address differing styles will increase adoption and the likelihood of success.
Monitor and Evaluate Progress Finally
Monitoring and regularly evaluating the change management plan's progress is essential. Monitoring will help to identify areas where improvements are needed, or more clarification is required and will allow for tracking the impact of the change. It will also help to build confidence in the transition and ensure that it is sustainable and successful in the long term.
In conclusion, a change management plan is crucial in ensuring that changes are implemented effectively and have a lasting impact. By acknowledging the softer side of change and utilizing these five tips, organizations can create change that sticks.