The 4-step organizational change management plan that will actually reward your efforts
Harvard Business Review cites that nearly 60-70% of change management initiatives fail.
Don’t fear that statistic!
There are helpful processes you can reliably follow in a wide variety of change management situations.
There are 4 key actions involved in any successful organizational change management plan:
Focusing on each of these steps individually allows you to break the process into more defined (ie-manageable) pieces.
I’m going to make it easier for you to not only successfully handle and navigate change, but also lead change.
I’ll walk you through a practical 4-step organizational change management plan that cuts a path through the chaos and clutter that always accompanies change.
Webster’s Dictionary defines the word change as:
1. to become different or make something (or someone) different
2. to become something else
3. to give a different position, course, or direction to
4. to make radically different, transform
change management definition:
a leadership approach in which you:
1. define goals and objectives related to change event(s)
2. lead (support, prepare and manage) your team (or company) while any change event occurs
3. focus on team or company change, depending on needs
4. ensure that all goals and objectives are successfully achieved
Remember, change is all around us in everyday situations- and we are not surprised by many of these changes.
In fact, we EXPECT change.
We graduate from college, join the military, start new jobs.
We get married, have families, move to new cities.
We make and lose friends throughout our lives.
We develop new skills and talents, start new hobbies.
See what I mean? Change is all around us and we expect no less. We accept and sometimes even look forward to changes. The same can be true in your professional life.
Change is an inevitable part of every dimension of life.
Professional change may be one of the most difficult because it sometimes seems least predictable and most chaotic.
Here are some questions that may keep you up at night when facing professional change:
- What if you’re not in control?
- What if you aren’t the only one with a vote?
- How can you manage change?
- Should your goal be to just survive change? Get through the day?
If you are in a place where you dread change, don’t know how to survive it,
or, heaven forbid- you feel unable to LEAD CHANGE,
start now: Immerse yourself fully into this 4-step action plan for leading change.
All successful change management plans begin with the same step:
ASSESS your current environment– it may be positive- or it may not!
In some instances, you may be operating in a political environment in which some (or many) are resistant to change.
You MUST identify the major players- both supporters and detractors!
What is the actual appetite for implementing real change? You may be hearing good things, but in reality, finding more roadblocks.
Does your organizational change mangagement plan consider the support for change at all levels, not just yours?
Does your boss’s boss support change? What about his/her peer in another department?
Do you need (and have) support from senior leadership, including a board of directors?
Do you need external vendor support? This one can be tricky (although not impossible) to achieve.
The payoff for completing step 1:
The more you understand the environment and the players, the more you can acquire real buy-in and ownership in implementing the change.
You transform the situation from ‘your project’ to ‘our project’ and ‘team project’!
You certainly will be appreciated for sharing in the team victory, but keep in mind, this approach shares the risk as well.
continuing the change management process:
IDENTIFY METRICS– Make no changes until you understand the current situation (step 1) and HOW TO MEASURE IT.
If you make changes without first identifying metrics, how will you ever know if the effect of your changes is positive or negative?
Remember, CHANGES MUST BE MEASUREABLE.
Therefore, begin step 2 by identifying metrics and defining your desired measures of success.
Here are some examples of how this works and possible metrics for you to define:
Now that you have identified your metrics, you can define your measures of success.
Remember, clearly defining and understanding the changes in these metrics will help you clearly communicate status, progress, and success.
IMPORTANT: For those of you taking on a considerable change effort, it is quite possible that the current situation isn’t good. It could be related to poor performance, lack of resources, significant barriers to new market entry, necessary upgrades or maintenance that has been deferred, etc. These are just a few examples. DEFINE THE CURRENT SITUATION AS BEST AS POSSIBLE AND COMMUNICATE IT. It will go a long way in helping everyone understand the current situation accurately and also may provide you with more support as you take on this change effort.
prioritization of steps in the change management process:
Determine the proper sequence of change events based on dependencies and resources.
Once you’ve assessed the current environment, determined the major players, and identified metrics and measures of success (steps 1-2), you’re ready to determine the appropriate sequence (ie- the correct order) for change events to take place. Furthermore, prioritizing the list of changes will not only increase the efficiency of the change process but it will also help minimize some of the challenges of the change management process.
Here are the key elements to consider when determining which changes you want to make first, second, etc.:
- DEPENDENCIES: Is one task dependent on another? Dependent and foundational tasks must be identified and dealt with first, then you can make necessary changes to the “top tier” items.
- APPROACH: In your situation, does it make the most sense to act on all change tasks simultaneously or focus completely on one task at a time? Sequencing the events in “buckets” helps to prioritize your focus and effort. Consequently, you will be able to show progress in many areas at once- which is what many senior managers prefer to see.
- RESOURCES: Do any of your tasks require additional human resources, or people with different skill sets? Will any of the changes require capital investment such as a piece of equipment, new technology, etc.? Consideration of resources may cause you to sequence events in a different way than you might have otherwise. For example, if you need a piece of equipment that will help reduce labor but will require a significant capital investment, you may not want to focus on that event first since it could take several conversations to acquire budget approval. New technology can also be an expensive change, so rather than focus on a system that will automate your process and cost hundresds of thousands of dollars, can you streamline the process and acquire new technology at a future date?
Scheduling and timeline are important factors in any change management process:
SCHEDULE– You need to CLEARLY understand how much time you have to implement positive change and determine the appropriate timeline with this in mind.
I cannot state this strongly enough:
Only by understanding how much time you have to implement positive change will you be able to properly schedule and designate a “time budget” for each of the change events and tasks you established in steps 1-3.
Here are some tips on working through this step (4):
1. UTILIZE the partners you established in step 1.
Who better to understand timelines than the people you are directly pulling into your project?
2. GO FOR SOME QUICK WINS.
Would your boss prefer to receive a report from you in the first 2 weeks outlining progress you’ve already made, or to repeatedly hear that you’re making progress, but without seeing any tangible improvement in 6 months?? Please do not underestimate the significance of quick wins.
If you find that some tasks require a longer timeline than previously suggested, communicate that as soon as possible. Identify ways to show progress while constantly keeping the longer term in mind.
Congratulations- you have completed all four steps.
Remember, change is a good thing! Change your mindset. By following these 4 steps you will begin to find ways to establish partners, metrics, definitions of success, and lastly the order and timeline of change.
To really maximize your effort, effectiveness, and total success, take a look at the infographic. It can serve as a brief outline and reminder of the principles involved in each step. Keep in mind, however, that you’re never completely finished with any step!
The key to succeeding in both organizational and even individual or small group change situations is to eventually reach a level of proficiency that will allow you to focus on all four steps simultaneously. That is the ultimate goal and the key to true success!
I want you to be in the Harvard Business Review statistical minority– the leader of a SUCCESSFUL change initiative!
I assure you that as you begin this journey you will begin to see positive results, your confidence will improve, and the most fun part- you’ll begin to actually thrive in these situations. You may even find yourself gravitating towards situations where you can lead teams and others comfortably, confidently, and successfully.
I would love to hear your success stories, ideas, and questions so feel free to leave a comment below.