Key Areas for Implementing Change
There are critical actions that require your attention if your change initiative is to succeed.
Essential Change Management Activities
Whatever your change program, one key area requiring your attention is the identification and management of change stakeholders. A stakeholder is any person with an interest in the change process or the outcome of the proposed change. Stakeholders bring with them an amalgam of competing interests and often act to further their own power, influence and survival. The added difficulty for change managers rests in the fact that such political maneuvering is often in the guise of impartial and rational argument. Who are your major stakeholders? How will you get them on board and retain their support throughout the life of your change program?
Another essential activity often neglected by failed changed initiatives is the setting of clearly defined and measurable objectives. Goal setting done well engages stakeholders and commits them to the program. Other benefits include focusing effort to where it is important and providing a yardstick for measuring program success. Are your goals fuzzy and hard to put a finger on, or are they SMART goals? Do they link to the strategic objectives of the organization and do they have widespread and genuine support across the organization?
People, and only people, can make your organizational change happen. Programs fail where roles and tasks are not agreed and clarified. In organizations with a low performance culture, many employees and managers will expend considerable effort in hiding from responsibility. What are the key roles and responsibilities for bringing about the change in your area? For any change initiative, we have identified four key change roles: Change Driver, Change Implementer, Change Enabler and Change Recipient. Who are the people that occupy each role in your change program? Have the right people been selected for the right roles?
Whatever your change initiative, most likely the above-mentioned roles will not be working in isolation. More and more, results can only be achieved through people working in collaboration – in teams. Are your teams of the optimal size – not too small and not too big? Have you got the right team leader? Do they have the necessary technical and interpersonal skills? One reason why teams are much more productive than individuals working in isolation is that members may leverage off each other's strengths and compensate for each other's weaknesses. Do your teams have the right balance of natural working styles? At times, teams get stuck. What is your strategy in moving stuck teams forward?
Training is an indispensable tool for skilling teams and bedding in change. Many organizations, however, fail to benefit from the resources spent on training. Soon after the training is completed, employees continue to cling on to the old way of doing things. How successfully are you using training in your organizational change program? Do you have a well-articulated training plan? Does the training focus on behavior change or simply on content? Have you planned for back in the workplace support? Do your managers actively support the training?
Dealing with Resistance
No matter how good your training, some employees, customers and suppliers will resist the change. Unless you have a well-thought out strategy for dealing with resistance, resisters will wear your program down till it grinds to a halt. Are your resisters out in the open or do they work from the underground? The stated reasons for resisting may simply be a smokescreen. Have you uncovered the real reasons for resistance to your program? How have you helped people work through the psychological process of change? What is your strategy for overcoming resistance to change?
Bringing about change in organizations today is fraught with uncertainty. However, when done well, it can be extremely rewarding. We wish you well on your journey. We encourage you to investigate and use our change management resources to steer your change program in the right direction.
Our change management guide will steer you and your team through the essential change management activities outlined above. It features a variety of tools, techniques and tips for ensuring that your change program delivers on its promises.