If we only learned one thing from the pandemic, it’s that life is unpredictable and those that are able to adapt to change quickest will succeed. Charles Darwin put it well in the context of the animal kingdom: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change”. The same rings true of the business world; Nokia, Blockbuster, and Polaroid are just a few examples of organizations that at one time had an apparently unassailable lead in their respective industries.
In fact, the only unchanging aspect of change is its pervasiveness. That’s why the ability to manage change effectively is a serious competitive advantage for an organization.
The practice of change management has grown in prominence over the last 20 years. Many people are waking up to the fact that simply flipping the switch on a new digital tool and expecting adoption is not a recipe for success. According to Gartner, around half of all corporate changes are unsuccessful. Why is that?
Often, it’s because a change is not properly communicated.
Project management and change management are like two sides of the same coin: project management is about designing, developing, and delivering a solution while change management is about ensuring a solution is embraced, adopted, and used. In the same way, change management and internal communications are closely linked. Internal communicators and the channels we manage can make a huge difference to the success of a change initiative.
Here are some tips about change management to maximize your chance of change success:
Change management tip #1: communicate early & often
Give employees plenty of warning about an upcoming change, and continue to communicate regularly throughout the project. Consistent messaging about “what’s-in-it-for-me” and why the change is taking place should be key messages throughout the project.
Change management tip #2: create a “home” for project information
Creating a central location to host updates about projects gives your employees a place to look if they have any questions. Your intranet is a great place to do this and will allow your employees to self-serve for information in between updates. It’s essential to keep this information updated, as stale, outdated content will reduce the source’s credibility.
Change management tip #3: work with project sponsors
Work with the senior stakeholder responsible for the change. Buy-in from employees is more likely if it’s clearly a priority for business leaders. If they haven’t already, convincing them to include the project within their teams’ formal business objectives will help too. If using them as a spokesperson, try to help them include key messages in all correspondence so they remain “on message”.
Change management tip #4: vary your approach for different employee groups
Everyone has their own way of navigating change. Some employees will be more open to change than others, some will need additional support during and after the change. Ensuring you cater to different requirements across your organization will help embed a change. Different channels, messaging, and timing could all be varied to reach as many employees as possible.
Change management tip #5: pay attention to your organization
The specific conditions within your organization will impact change maturity and how ready for change it is. Leadership style, how much change is already happening, and past change initiatives are among the factors that can impact success. While there’s not too much you can do about these things, considering them in the way you communicate change can help increase the likelihood of success. (For better communication, transparency and adaptability, you can build an agile workflow that will help in managing your organization and its processes effectively and efficiently.)
Change management tip #6: seek feedback from your audience members
The only way to understand the experience of going through a change is to ask your employees. They provide unique insight into how the change is perceived. Establishing a feedback channel will help you to capture those insights throughout the project lifecycle. In addition, you might consider creating a change council to help you to set up a dialogue with trusted colleagues and discuss issues that arise.
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