Change management has definitely become a buzzword today. It's a pressing business problem that organisations must address whenever they restructure, launch a new product, merge or acquire a company, or introduce new process changes or technologies to manage key components of their operations.
Our challenging economic environment also contributes to the pressure on change managers to get the change management right the first time.
Many organisations are looking for the secret sauce that will make change management successful.
While there's no single correct solution, we believe a strong communications plan that starts before the change initiative begins, lasts beyond its conclusion, and goes up and down the organisation comes close.
Make sure you are consistent and trustworthy in your communications; help employees understand what support they will receive during the change and what resources they can call on for help.
Any change will make employees fear that they won't do well and might lose their jobs, which makes change a very personal event.
Share the overall vision with employees, but also communicate your expectation that the organisation may make many course corrections during the change process.
Lay out the training and support plan showing how the company will tailor these activities to different audiences (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Business Changes Can Cause Concern Throughout The Organisation
Take A Disciplined Approach
Continuous planning and executive support make change management successful. As you evaluate your change initiatives, be flexible to making mid-course corrections.
While many parts of the organisation can lead change management, we've found that HR often takes a leadership role in change management.
Because change is an ongoing part of business life, many of today's HR executives have expertise in organizational development and have led large-scale efforts to sustain change.
If the change is substantial, outside resources with change management experience often supplement HR staff.
Once you've identified a change leader with experience in organizational change management, they should start working with all of the business stakeholders and business process professionals.
In particular, this leader should start working in parallel with the project manager within the project management office.