Change Management

A best practice approach including detailed process mapping and effective communication of your change vision.

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Change is inevitable. From digital transformations to internal restructuring, change is one of the most critical success factors for any business and usually means stronger financial results for your organization. But change is hard, and changing human behavior is even harder.

What is change management?

Change management is an approach to managing the people side of change in an organization and moving from a current state to a new future state. A crucial element of success is not only managing all the moving parts of a change, but understanding how your employees process change. Think of change management this way: change management focuses on people’s reaction to change, or the human side, while project management handles the tactical process of the change. And without behavior change, there is no true change.

Why is change management important?

Because companies who can efficiently and successfully adapt to change outperform their competitors.

Change management is more than an announcement email and a manager toolkit. No matter how informational a toolkit is, it’s not going to be enough to drive true behavior change on its own. That’s why the elements of a change management process, model or strategy have to be structured around the technical, business and emotional sides of change implementation. Checklists and tools are helpful, but they’re just tools. They aren’t going to achieve the employee buy-in you need to succesfully change behavior.

How to get started when change is on the horizon

When changes are on the horizon for your business or organization, you can prepare for them in a few ways.

  • Select your change management framework. There are several change management models out there to choose from: Kotter’s model, McKinsey’s 7-S model and the ADKAR model are just a few. It’s important to choose a recognized framework to guide your efforts.
  • Build a change management project team. Change management requires individuals in key roles, including human resources, to engage with the change and coordinate efforts. Build a team of sponsors, leadership, people managers, project managers and even employees who are affected by the change as core roles.
  • Transparency is essential. One of the greatest enemies to change is fear — employees don’t like being left in the dark. Uncertainty about an impending (or even rumored) change can spread quickly throughout an organization, so it’s important to be as honest and transparent as soon as possible.
  • Gather employee feedback. Feedback lets you listen to how employees are feeling and understanding, or what they’re confused by, and assess what type of adjustments need to be made to keep the change moving along successfully.

It’s also important to keep in mind that employees can experience “change fatigue” within a business environment — especially in today’s current environment. In fact, it’s one of the most common frustrations that negatively affects a business transformation. Even when the change is objectively good, it can be scary for your people. Having a documented change management plan and working through the steps is critical to success.

Helping an organization with change management

PartnerComm was asked to help a client communicate a pension plan freeze and transition affected employees to the 401(k) plan. We worked with the company to navigate the complexities of a change that would be viewed negatively by impacted employees by creating a change management model to assess, design, implement, manage and evaluate the behavior change. With our combination of strong project management and behavior change experience, we successfully transitioned the affected employee population with minimal disruption.

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