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integration and implementation of technology-focused business solutions

February 2017

Making a positive impact with change management

February 21st, 2017

In our last blog, we discussed the basics of change management. We covered why it’s important and what should be included in the process.

For this blog, let’s go one step further and look at how to create a change management plan that has maximum positive impact for all involved.

WIIFM?

This is the most important question people will ask when faced with any type of change: What’s in it for me? People want to understand what they can expect and how it impacts them.

If you want to create buy-in and engagement, be prepared to answer this question. Often with software or other IT implementations, people are worried about technology replacing them or some of their job functions.

Being aware of this and ready to answer their questions can help alleviate concerns and focus stakeholders on the project goals.

In the case of software or other IT implementations, explain to team members how the change will directly benefit them by increasing their efficiency or freeing them up to do other functions that require people and not systems.

Be sure to point out other added benefits, including those to the customer and end user.

Get the right people to the table

In the initial planning stages, it’s important to get the stakeholders to the table to discuss the project. This must include those doing the job most directly impacted by the change, as well the end user, just to name a few.

Getting essential information early on means greater visibility on potential roadblocks and more people to problem-solve for solutions.

Also, engaging people in the process and decision-making gives them a sense of ownership, which creates more buy-in as the project rolls out.

Create a system everyone understands

All organizations have different ways of communicating, and many departments within those organizations have their own specific jargon.

When mapping out your change management strategy, create a clear system for communicating project status and the challenges that will inevitably come up.

This could be as simple as using a green, yellow, and red light system.

During meetings, various groups involved in the implementation of the new project or system can use this to describe their current status.

For example, let’s say the marketing department is tasked with implementing a new social media strategy. During a status update meeting, the marketing representative announces that task is a red light, which means they are making no forward progress. The representative explains the reasons surrounding the issue. Then the rest of the group brainstorms and helps the marketing representative create a time-bound plan to move that task from red light to green light status.

That’s just one way you can handle inter-departmental communication during significant changes. There are many others that may be a better fit for your organization.

Whatever strategies your organization uses for change management, remember, having a plan is essential. Help connect your stakeholders to the mission of the project by answering WIIFM, getting the right people to the table, and creating a simple system to communicate.

Keep people informed and celebrate the wins along the way. Great change creates great opportunity.

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Managing change so it doesn’t manage you

February 7th, 2017

In a rapidly advancing business climate, organizational agility is key. Market disrupters appear at a breakneck speed and leave companies struggling to keep up.

Motivational speaker Tony Robbins says, “Change is inevitable. Progress is optional.” In the realm of change management, truer words have never been spoken.

So, what is change management and how can it impact your business?

Planning the process

Change management is simply a process put in place to ensure business functions and relationships are maintained while implementing new procedures or systems.

It’s planning a way to manage change, so it doesn’t manage you.

For example, if your organization is implementing a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, there will likely be effects felt across the entire business. From the marketing department to sales to customer service, many people need visibility on planning the implementation, carrying out the implementation, and then providing appropriate feedback to make necessary adjustments.

A change management process creates a roadmap to make sure these things happen at the right time.

Setting expectations

One of the biggest benefits of a change management strategy is creating appropriate expectations for all stakeholders. The communication surrounding expectations is crucial.

When implementing new systems or processes, everyone should understand what will and will not happen. Nothing derails an implementation plan faster than over-promising and then under-delivering results. The implications on morale and future support of new projects can be massive.

To maintain buy-in, everyone impacted by the new project or process needs to be included in preliminary discussions. Time should be spent asking stakeholders about their needs, expectations, and concerns.

After the feedback is gathered, time should be spent with the same team reviewing the feedback and outlining the implementation. Emphasis should be placed on appropriate expectations including timelines, deliverables, and communication plans.

Common missteps

During implementation of new projects or systems, one common misstep is failure to plan. There should be clear guidelines on the goals of the project, who owns what pieces of implementation, and how everyone can ensure effective communication.

Assuming these things will happen organically will derail the project. Without clear guidelines, inefficiencies become the norm as scope creep takes over. Teams are then left feeling confused and frustrated.

All of this can be avoided with some basic change management planning.

Change management may sound complicated, but the core principles are not. Remember, it’s simply casting a vision for where you want to go, establishing goals to achieve the vision, and mapping out how the team will get there.

When done well, the process will increase your organization’s agility, threshold to deal with market disruptions, and ability to grow relationships during change. In today’s business, this is the winning combination that sets organizations ahead of their competitors.

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