5 steps for successful change management

Company: “We are implementing a new process. Here it is. Thank you for following it.”

Employee: “But, what does this mean for me?”

Even if they aren’t asking the question out loud, employees are thinking it. How companies communicate change at work and how they approach employee buy-in is critical for successful adoption. 

Change management is a strategic, purposeful approach to helping employees be successful amidst — sometimes unwanted — change within an organization. When employees are able to understand and quickly adapt to change, organizations experience higher productivity and less turnover. Change management planning and execution ensures employees buy-into the “change” and behaviorally adapt in order to successfully accept processes, tools or information within an organization. Communication is a key component of a successful change management plan.

Here are five steps you can take to help ensure successful change:

1.     Conduct Research & Assess Your Findings 

Who are your stakeholders, and what are their individual needs? What are the benefits and disadvantages of the change for each group? Don’t assume you know the answers ahead of time. Put in the work to understand the real challenges. As you conduct your research, you’ll better understand the audience and can develop personas and target your change communications for each group.

The findings will also show the varying degrees of change required. Each employee moves through change differently, so targeting sub-groups of employees is critical.

2.     Set Goals and Objectives

When you plan to take a trip, it helps to know the destination. Goals must be SMART, meaning Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. They should also be tied directly to larger business objectives.

3.     Work with the Pros

Working with experienced change communicators ensures you’re developing strategies and tactics that deliver real results. They’ve done it tens of times and can leverage best practices and learnings from their experiences.

4.     Generate Solutions, Implement & Be Ready to Deviate 

When coming up with solutions, balance new ideas with improvements to existing ones. Make sure to call out those suggestions that came from employees. Solutions can be no-cost, low-cost, and high-cost. A good leader will weigh the benefits of the different options and choose what makes sense for their company. 

Remember: three great solutions are better than 10 average ones.

Once you’ve secured leadership support, develop a tactical plan and timeline. Assign clear deadlines and accountability. Rarely does a plan go exactly as expected, so don’t be afraid to deviate.

Plans should also follow a proven change management model (my favorite is ADKAR), which ensures that every action, every event has a specific purpose tied to a specific outcome.

5.     Metrics and Measurement 

Metrics should be tied back to program and company goals using various data sources and connected to employee performance. Ask managers to report feedback. Review your research findings and follow up with employees via survey or other methods. Share with leadership, managers and employees. Repeat steps 4 and 5.

Need help getting a change management project off the ground? We’re here to help. Email us today at support@kirkpat.com

By: Katie Regan