Change Management: It’s About More Than Communication or Training
By Ève Dallaire
For many, change management is a vague concept that is too often simply associated with communication or training. However, communication and training are only methods used to manage change. Change management has a much wider scope and includes a set of interconnected principles and activities.
For managers, combining significant operational and financial concerns with a partial understanding of change management can have significant consequences. Prioritising timelines, budgets, etc. can easily alter their perception of what is really happening on the ground. By not paying enough attention to human resources, the manager is missing a key element needed for a successful project. In addition, she may be vulnerable to surprises that could have been taken into consideration earlier in the process. So, by using certain methods to manage change, the manager runs the risk of weakening her team and having to rectify the situation at a much higher cost.
Oops! We Should Have…
When a change must be quickly implemented or when a company rolls out a change assumed to be positive for employees, it is easy to minimise the importance of change management. Oftentimes it is only in hindsight, after a change is implemented, that the manager realises the impact of not managing the change strategically. From this viewpoint, looking at the overall picture of change is crucial for highlighting how complex it is and leading managers to consider all its components.
The secret to successful change management requires careful orchestration of the following elements, at a minimum.
- Identifying managers who are willing to take on a project and commit to it
- Setting up a project governance structure
- Analysing risks related to project management, the external environment, organisational capacity, etc. and establishing a plan for managing these
- Assessing the impact on employee positions, skills, tools, processes and work procedures, etc. and establishing a plan to manage it
- Creating, implementing and linking communication and training strategies
- Fostering collaboration among various individuals and/or teams
- Reorganising the tasks of resources working on the project
- Supporting teams with resource people available before, during and after the change is implemented
- Getting buy-in from employees affected by the change and involving them in various activities or workshops
- Providing post-change support
A Unique Strategy For Each Organisation
There is no universal recipe for managing change. Creating a change management strategy requires some thought. In addition, this strategy must adapt to the environmental realities and the type of change (growth, transition or transformation). This means it is essential to review the strategy along the way so any necessary adjustments can be made. One way to do this might be using a survey to take the pulse on the ground by measuring participation or enrollment rates, etc. However, despite the work put into developing a change management strategy, the only way the desired successful outcome can be accomplished is by consistently applying the strategy and tracking the results.
This responsibility can be difficult for managers to handle, especially when combined with all their other duties. For this reason, it is appropriate to designate a competent, trained change manager who will bring structure and effectiveness to her work so she can help the manager implement all of the various elements involved in change management.