Businesses revolve around customers for revenue and profit, and employees for productivity; the two must work together for the survival of any business. While customer experience greatly determines the relevance of your business in the global market, ensuring your employees have the right opportunity to individually unleash creativity goes a long way to enhance productivity.
Most organizations today focus on digital transformation to add more value to customers and business processes; incidentally, for your transformation to be a success, you must have a quality change management strategy.
Change management is a term that embodies all the processes involved in the preparation, supporting, and helping employees, teams, and businesses to go through change. You may want to embark on change management because you need to integrate new technologies, review your internal process, manage crises better, add more value to your customers, be more relevant in the global market, or reorganize your structure.
While change management deals with how employees and teams are impacted by changes within the organization, organizational change management (OCM) takes care of the holistic organizational change of your whole company or business. To ensure you succeed with your change management project, however, you need an actionable change management strategy.
What does a quality change management strategy entail?
Any form of change requires human and financial resources; it’s, therefore, important that before you embark on a meaningful change, that you must have an actionable change management strategy. Your strategy is the roadmap; it must be focused, comprehensive, and purposeful.
It must clearly spell out the features of the change, any form of risk you may encounter, as well as any source of friction along the way that may jeopardize the efforts of change practitioners, project teams, and partners. No two changes are the same; so you must fashion a specific approach for each change.
Changes can include
- Acquiring a new business premises
- Layoffs or mass-hiring
- Changes in C-suite
Any of these changes has its own peculiarities; the processes and associated risks differ and will impact the way your employees carry out their tasks. In coming up with your change management strategy for each one, you must consider how employees can quickly adopt the necessary processes and the ease of utilization of new tools where applicable.
Steps to creating a quality change management strategy
It’s not enough to create a change management strategy, the most important thing is that your strategy must be actionable, and you need the following steps to ensure that.
1. Specify the necessary features of your change management
Your change management strategy must have features that are specific to any of the changes you want to embark upon, and you can do this by raising a set of questions that will guide you through. Such questions must include:
- What do you intend to change and how holistic will the change be?
- Who is the change targeting?
- Do you have metrics to gauge how many people the change will impact?
- What will be the nature of the impact?
- Do you have a means of feedback to know the level of impact the change is making on the people?
- Do you have any duration for the completion of the change?
Answers to these questions will give you the focus you need to create a roadmap for your change project.
2. An in-depth knowledge of your organization
You must know every detail about your organization; this is very essential to the success of the change you want to embark upon. Your organizational culture will play a big role in ensuring how your employees will adopt new measures.
Organizations that have flexible cultures don’t encounter many problems when they embark on any form of change. Knowing what specific role the change is going to play in the life of your organization is very important.
You can ask yourself the following questions to have a good perspective of what you want to do.
- Do your employees and managers see the need for the change?
- How did you handle any change previously?
- How flexible or strong is the organization’s culture?
- Do your employees believe in the well-being of the organization?
- Is there any change currently going on in your organization? If there is, how do you intend to harmonize them?
If you have answers to the questions and your answers are realistic, you can then proceed to produce your change management strategy. Apart from the questions and answers that will guide you, some other things your strategy must be explicit about include:
There must be a marked difference between the project team and the change management team; this helps to resolve any form of conflict. What can hasten your change management project is to ensure that a change manager is in the project team.
Both teams need good collaboration; if you can’t get a change manager to be in the project team, there is the possibility of having hiccups in your change management project. The project team needs support; marking out specific responsibilities and delegation of duties are essential to your change management strategy; you must also ensure that the funds needed for the project will be available when needed.
Building a coalition group
A change in most organizations stems from the CEO, but it requires the input of the CIO and other members of the C-suite. The CEO, who can also be referred to as the sponsor, must build a coalition group.
While the CEO authorizes and champions the change, all hands must be on the deck to ensure a smooth change. It’s the CEO’s responsibility to build the coalition group and pick leaders that will positively impact the change.
The leaders will be responsible for ensuring proper collaboration among employees.
Put in place measures to counter resistance
Change management always evokes pockets of resistance if your employees are not in the picture. Organizational culture will have to change; your change management strategy must focus on how to ensure that resistances don’t occur and even when they occur, there must be concerted efforts to resolve them very quickly in order not to stall the change project. How you do this is to anticipate flare-up points and be proactive.
Preparations to be proactive will warrant asking questions and getting ready-made answers, such as:
- Is there any group that will feel the impact of the change more than the others?
- What is the state of your legacy systems?
- Is every group on the same page about resolving problems that warranted the change?
- Are there people who feel strongly about the culture of your organization?
- How flexible is your organizational culture?
If you can realistically proffer answers to these questions, you will know where to expect frictions from and plan ahead on how to tactically tackle such frictions.
Change management will often crop up difficulties and be fraught with risks within the organization; pockets of resistance must be expected; by being proactive, you plan for success. When employees are frustrated with your change management project, it is a potent sign of failure.