The process seems daunting; you realize that you are being asked to lead a large initiative with plenty of stakeholders, constituents, and occasional skeptics along the way with the ever-present executive visibility. For newcomers and those not familiar which change management on a daily basis, this can be a very scary time. You ask yourself where do you start. Who do I need on my team? What do the executives want to see? How can I be successful? What if I fail? What happens then? These are all-natural reactions, especially today, when many are being asked to do more with less. This beginner’s guide to change management will walk you through the change management process.
Change Management Process
Initial communication and awareness
This is where you begin. After getting your assignment, you first need to assemble your team. Be prepared for your kick-off to share all the details of your change/initiative. Be ready when someone asks for the background and the reason why your organization decided to begin the initiative. Document and be prepared to share exactly what needs to be done, assign initial responsibilities, and then get their feedback and buy-in for any additional resources required. This step is critical as it should explain the Why and the How. You should also begin to identify the subject matter experts and ‘change champions’ that can help be your change leaders. Finally, begin to document what the skeptics may say and appropriate responses that you will need when someone says, “I don’t understand” or “that’s too complicated.” You already know that there will be some people that won’t support your initiative, so those you have to spend extra time planning for. Your champions will be your cheerleaders, so make sure to use them in a very positive sort of way. Preparation is key; always create documentation for the project team to use during this initial phase.
Okay, you completed all your planning and documentation, now it is time to show everyone what you have. As previously mentioned, use your change champions and subject matter experts in this action-oriented phase. They will be key to communicate the future state and set the right organizational mindset. Plan to use your newly created documentation. Be clear to your wider audience what needs to be done, what their individual role will be, what success looks like as you roll out your change initiative. Communicate all expectations very clearly and establish short team targets. Use your team to reinforce your key messages throughout the organization.
Verification and confirmation
Time to break out the reports. Evaluate if the change has been effective, where are your areas of strength, where are the continued areas of opportunity. Again use your subject matter experts and change champions to communicate these results but also identify some of your early adopters and their success stories. It will be critical to share these results and explain how they were realized. What are the new best practices to document and share? Soon others will follow. Be sure to highlight everyone’s contribution during this phase.
“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”– John F. Kennedy.
Don’t be afraid of change and know that all companies are looking to deliver business results faster. Change management comes down to good planning and effective communications. Transparency and follow-up help drive your key messages and sustains new behaviors that will make your organization successful.
Paul Kesler, PMP, CSM, SSBB, is an experienced project and program manager with industry experience in Software Publishing, Payment Solutions, Financial Services and Receivables Management industries. His experience includes leading business strategy execution, working with C-Level and Senior leaders of various business lines to meet company annual goals and objectives. Paul is comfortable leading business projects like Go To Market launches of new cloud products and leading technology implementations and integrations such as Salesforce. He is also an active member of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) and the Project Management Institute (Atlanta Chapter). Paul writes about change management.