Managing change – no matter what the topic of change – has some essential elements which, if done well, augur well for the outcome of the change management project.
Here are another three essentials of change: Organisational engagement, Core project team capabilities and Communication outcomes.
As sponsors of change, our responsibility in engaging the organisation does not finish with the majority of the organisation understanding what we are doing.
We must develop and execute tactics to take our people and, in particular, our line management through five stages of engagement.
The first stage is to get them to understand what we intend. Proof that our tactics have been successful is demonstrated by people talking about the change in an informed rather than speculative manner.
The second stage is to have them care about and believe in the change. People asking questions and making suggestions to improve our capacity and capability to achieve the change demonstrate proof of reaching the second stage.
Even if we have people caring and believing, they may still find it difficult to prioritise the activities required to execute the change due to the day-to-day business requirements of their time. We must help them to prioritise. Evidence of prioritisation may include preparing to send their staff to training.
If the change is a major one, we need to help people plan for the change and provide support for implementation of the change.
Core Project Team Capabilities
Major change requires a governance structure, which invariably includes a team given the responsibility to plan the execution of the change. They need to not only be able to estimate the time and resources and plan the activities required, but also to develop communication and engagement strategies and tactics to win over the people to support the change.
Further, they need to be able to assess the likelihood and consequence of risk events and, having evaluated them against the contexts of risk pertinent to their organisation, develop treatment plans for those risk events considered to be unacceptable.
A table stake for the team is having knowledge of or access to people with knowledge of business processes.
The responsibility for communication outcomes during change rests squarely with the sender rather than the receiver. It is not good enough to put together a communication plan, which when it does not have the impact we seek, to say, “They should not think that way”.
We must, as the sponsors of change, develop communication messages which cause people to go through three stages of reaction of Feel, then Think, and then Do, that meets our desired outcomes of the communication.
We must think about each stakeholder group and develop message content, which when communicated by the appropriate individual through the appropriate channel at the appropriate frequency, creates the reactions. More often than not we need to create reinforcing messages through different channels to have the Think, Feel, Do reaction we want.
When we do not have the reaction we wanted, we need to review the components of our communication and alter one or more of them to see if we can have an impact more in line with what we desire.
For another three essentials to change management, make sure you check out our article: Change Management Essentials – Part I