Change Management - Tips

Change management (or Organizational change management) is a structured Approach to change organization or individuals from current state to desired state while ensuring smooth and efficient transition with minor or seamless impact to business.  
 
From an organizational perpective, change management is required when there are major changes impacting group of users. It can either be related to changes in policty or adoption of new software of technology or changing the working methods to align with market conditions.
 
In today's world, project managers are faced with ever changing environment and its difficult to manage the people and communication. The changes at times are overlapping and fast pace. there is not much time left for effective change management. So how does a project manager cope up with so much changes ?. How do we ensure that people and organization are seamlessly adopting changes and minimum impact to business ? Lets check out some tips below.
 

Tips for Change Management. 

  1. Managing people - Any change will come with resistance. People are used to doing work in certain way and will not want to change as it will cause disruptions to their work life. This is true for anyone in the organization. Even the most sincere employee will resist change. The emotional effects of change need to be considered and understood 
    by all involved in the change process. Understanding resistance and working with it is key. Give people a long term view and help them see benefits of the change. To do this first the problem or trigger to change must be clearly understood by people. Show them how we arrived from problem to solution, take inputs of key people and make meaningful changes.  You may have to play a role of a leader here , ensure their doubts are well answered and make them realize how change will bring long term stability for both organization and people involved.  You may need to bring out the phrase that "Change is constant" and the fact that if we dont change, we may become obsolete in business and competitors will take over. 
  2. Change Champions - Change management initiatives need change champions. These are essentially people who are key in a department and are early adopters and understand and support the change. Since the change champions are within the department , they are able to better speak the language of their team / people. This will ensure that conflicts and resistances are adequately handled for smoother transition. You should identify as many change champions as possible, atleast 1 from each department. ensure all communication flows through them and you support them with required details. 
  3. Communicate , Communicate, Communicate - Send communication throughout and not just towards the end. If people are well informed their doubts will be answered and they will be more supportive. Both Good and Bad news needs to be communicated timely.  Communication should be two way, you can ask the users or people for feedback and then reply to their feedback. This will encourage them to speak up.  Discontent or disagreements must be discussed in open forums rather than in cube farms or in cafeteria.
  4. Retain your key people and ensure there is no knowledge drain.
  5. Create quick wins - Short term wins will keep critics away and will help people see quick results, and build momentum for change. Hard working people in the team will be able to see results early which will motivate them to perform even better. 
  6. Illusion of control - Change management initiatives often give the leaders an illusion that things are in control. ONly when the change is deployed you will see the real resistance and feedback. To avoid this situation check the first 3 points above. So that you manage change proactively and dont leave things to chance.
  7. Change implementation plan: Detail out a plan for the change implementation: Make plans, but hold your plans loosely. Plan should be adapted to change as needs change. Use systems approach to ensure that all aspects are considered while planning and implementing change. 
  8. Stickiness of the change -  Change is not a one time activity, if you have deployed a new software you dont want people to constantly complain how the old software was better. To ensure stickiness of change, keep the communication channel open even after the change is deployed. Publish results of how the new change is achieving the stated goals and benefits (if already realized).  You can use posters, newsletters and other methods to enforce your points. 

Change management is a structured activity and it needs lot of experience to become a good change manager. You will stumble and learn in your first assignment , but eventually you should master the art of change management

References

Book - Heart of change. http://theheartofchange.com/

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