Change Management Strategy
Change for the sake of change is hardly beneficial to a business, as it puts strain on employees and resources. But with a clear strategy and purpose, an organization can make changes that directly benefit the business. Knowing the plan, the characteristics of the change, its risks, and potential resistance makes for a smooth transition for change practitioners, project teams, and partners.
Not to mention, all change is different and requires a unique approach. Consider these changes:
- Relocating office spaces
- Changes in senior leadership
- Acquiring a company
- Implementing a new web-based form and process
With each of these changes comes an entirely unique set of challenges, risks, and processes. Each affects how people do their job; each varies in terms of adoption and rate of utilization.
Creating a Change Management Strategy
Use the following steps to guide you through the development of your strategy for change management.
1. Identify Change Characteristics
Start with a list of questions as you prepare a strategy for managing change:
- What is the scope of the change?
- Who is being impacted (employees, customers, others)?
- How many people will be affected?
- How are people being impacted?
- Are people experiencing the change differently?
- What is being changed (systems, processes, roles)?
- What is the timeframe for the change?
Having answered these questions, you’ll have a better direction and greater intent behind your plan for change.
2. Assess the Organization
Look at your organization in detail. Consider its history and culture, and describe the backdrop against which this specific change is taking place.
Some questions to ask at this phase include:
- What’s the perceived need for this change among employees and managers?
- How have previous changes been managed?
- Is there a shared company vision?
- How many changes are currently taking place (internally, or in the world)?
3. Create the Change Management Strategy
Successful strategies make sure to include:
It identifies who will be doing the change management work and outlines the relationship between the project team and the change management team.
This often involves placing a change manager in a project team, having a centralized change management team to support the project team, and/or change management being assigned to a project team member. Be sure to get specific about responsibilities and resources!
The sponsor coalition refers to the leaders, managers, and stakeholders who need to be actively involved in leading the change. The main sponsor is of course the individual who authorizes and promotes the change.
This figure will be largely responsible for building a coalition of sponsors throughout the organization.
Choose leaders from groups impacted by the change. Each member of the coalition has the duty of garnering support and communicating the change with their respective audience.
Anticipate Resistance & Special Tactics
When change occurs, there’s usually resistance. Often, this resistance could have been anticipated and prepared for accordingly.
When planning change, try to predict potential resistance and reactions by asking these questions:
- Are certain divisions or regions impacted differently than others?
- Were some groups sharing a different solution to the problem?
- Are certain groups greatly invested in how things are currently done?
Take note of the particular resistance points you might encounter and plan special tactics to deal with them before the process begins.
People are always going to be a potentially sizable risk, especially if they’re not managed and supported properly throughout the transition.
Certainly, farther-reaching projects have a higher risk level. A critical component of the strategy is documenting the overall risk and specific risk factors.
Consider the change characteristics (small/incremental or large/disruptive) and organizational attributes (ready for change vs. resistant to change) in order to conduct a thorough risk assessment.
Change Management Failure
There are many reasons why change initiatives can fail. Employees may be frustrated with the changes or the management of the change. Customers might not receive the changes well, or there might be confusion around the change. This list will identifies more reasons why change initiatives fail and help you ensure that yours will succeed.
Reasons why change initiatives fail:
- There’s no explanation as to why the change is taking place
- The change is too big for the time frame
- Bottom-up support for change is lacking
- Change management support is weak
- The initiative lacks inspiring leadership
- Leadership ignores change resistance as a source for learning
- Management pushes too hard and doesn’t recognize organizational exhaustion
- The plan is rigid and doesn’t adjust to upcoming developments
- The organization’s culture is not taken into consideration
Study this list and be prepared to revisit it throughout your change initiative so you can prevent failure, as well as better support your organization and your people through times of change.