Adequate preparation is the key to achieving the business results of change. Here are eight steps you should consider

27 November 2018
Article written by Malene Kingo

A good start is half the battle. It just takes a day or two to complete the eight steps below, and then you will be well on your way to harvesting the benefits of your next change project.

In a rapidly changing world, change is the only constant. Many changes are initiated to improve efficiency, increase customer satisfaction or even to transform an entire enterprise. But change is a risky business. When well- prepared, changes can have an extremely positive effect and realise all the anticipated business benefits. If not, the likelihood of failing is high.

#1: Define your case for change.

Your first step is to formulate the compelling story. Be precise on:

Why you are making the changes and what is the expected value of the change? Envision the future state. The process around the employee contract will be automated and digitized. We expect that the new process will improve our newly hired employees’ impression of our company, create a smoother process for hiring managers and HR and changing the process includes a $2m cost reduction.
Who the change will impact? Primarily hiring managers, HR and new hires are impacted
What is changing and what is not changing? Terms and conditions for hiring stay the same. In the future, the hiring manager will fill in a digital template for the employee contract. The final contract is e-mailed directly from the IT-application, signed by the hiring manager and sent to the new hire. Only draw on HR resources when the contract is complicated.
 the change will happen?  All hiring managers will be introduced to the new process and templates. HR will receive training. After the job interview, potential new hires receive a leaflet introducing the contracting process.
When the change will happen? All new hires after January 1, 2019?

#2: Understand the size and complexity of the change and the state of change readiness in the organisation.

How many people are impacted by the change? Is it a simple or complex change? How are past changes perceived? How do people in the organization respond to change? Insights like that help to scale and customize your change strategy.

To achieve expected business results from a large and disruptive change in a change resistant organisation, you need to put a lot of effort into designing and executing the change management strategy and plan. In contrast, a small, incremental change in a change-ready organisation only requires a limited amount of change management activities.

#3: Assess the impact and capacity for change.

Start by mapping the stakeholders who will be impacted by the change e.g., Sales, Logistics or Finance? and determine to which degree the groups are impacted e.g., low, medium or high You should also include an assessment on whether the groups or the entire organisation have capacity for change. If they are already running a lot of operational activities and other change activities, their capacity for change will be limited. Organisational change requires capacity, and the workload of organizational change must be planned for.

#4: Clarify the roles and governance structure around the change.

We all have different roles and responsibilities when driving change. The primary sponsor should be active and visible throughout the change. The direct managers and sponsors of the change have a role in advocating the change and coaching the employees through the change. The change team prepares and plans for the change to be executed and support top management and mid-level management in executing the change. It is important to articulate roles, responsibilities, mandate and expectations and prepare top management, mid-level management and direct supervisors for their roles as change leaders.

Be clear on the reporting structure. Does change management have a seat on the Steering Committee? Is the change team internal or external to the project / program team? Who has the authority to act?

#5: Describe the current state and the desired state.

When you can describe the current state and the desired state, then you are able to estimate the gaps. By mapping the current state and the desired state, you have a starting point and enough information to design the organisational change journey and the initial change management activities to be conducted. Step five also gives you an understanding of the training requirements.

Outlining current state, desired state and gaps are essential to the individuals in the organisation. It helps them to understand how they are impacted by the change.

#6: Identify the potential areas of resistance.

If you know your organisation well, there is a good chance that you will be able to identify groups, locations or even specific persons, who you expect will react negatively to the change. Plan how to handle these areas of resistance and set up mitigating actions such as engagement tactics or special treats. Put your effort into the majority of the ‘resisters’ and avoid focusing on the laggards and the ones with the loudest voices.

Handling resistance proactively hinders frustration and limits the inevitable productivity dip during change.

#7: Formulate your engagement strategy.

How do you plan to engage different groups in the change project? For example, middle level management, impacted groups, employees in general and external stakeholders. You will benefit from engaging internal as well as external stakeholders during implementation as they will legitimize the change and become your change champions in the implementation phase and increase the likelihood of a good implementation.

The people who are engaged will provide you with helpful business insights during implementation and they will act as change champions during organisational implementation.

#8: Validating the change.

Consider how you measure the effects of the change at an individual as well as an organizational level.

Set up a Change Scorecard with both relevant leading and lacking indicators of change. Do managers and employees understand why you are making the change? Do managers understand their role and do they feel adequately equipped and supported for driving the change? These are individual level metrics.

Most changes are initiated to achieve business benefits in the future. But what if the benefits fail to materialise and you realise it too late? Let 5-10 key performance indicators keep you on track from the day the change project is initiated until benefits are fully harvested!

Complete the eight steps. It just takes a day or two, and you will be well on your way to harvesting the benefits of your next change project.

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