So you’re looking into adopting or are currently undergoing a change management strategy. It can seem overwhelming at times. There’s a whole range of schools of thought, processes and procedures to consider. Having solid change management tools or strategies in place can make your life a whole lot easier. To help you achieve this we’ve compiled some of the best and most successful change management tools and strategies that you can start implementing in your business today.
Before examining change management tools or strategies, it’s good to start by considering models. Change management models are essentially theoretical approaches to how a change management programme can be undertaken. Models are useful, as they provide a map, guiding your change management programme throughout the process. Many of them will contain different tools and techniques within them. Think of models therefore as rule books, which contain with them tools and strategies which we will examine further in more detail. They are a good place to start on any change management improvement process, so consider reading up on them before embarking on your next project.
A few examples of change management models that may be of interest include:
This is just a small sample of some of the most prevalent change management models. There are many more to choose but these contain some of the best tools and strategies that are worth analysing.
In the next section, we’ll take a look at some aspects of these models in depth. We’ll highlight some of the particular techniques they employ, which you can apply to your own change management programme.
One of the most prevalent techniques that you’ll see mentioned in change management models is stakeholder communication. Keeping stakeholders up-to-date is crucial. It helps keep everyone informed, and helps improve buy-in, something we’ll expand upon later.
Stakeholder communication starts with a stakeholder communication plan. This should detail how and when each stakeholder group wants to receive project updates. It should also include what specific information they need to receive. This information will likely be different for different stakeholders groups, who may have separate interests. Try to work out with your stakeholders beforehand which information matters most to them, and reflect this in your communication plan.
You may also choose to define specific KPIs that reflect your stakeholders interests. These are a great way to keep stakeholders informed in a way that can be easily understood. They are also quantifiable, meaning comparisons can be made and performance evaluated over a period of time. For more information on defining KPIs, have a read of our article on defining KPIs for research and development.
Related to stakeholder communication is the idea of keeping stakeholders motivated. The success of change management projects are highly dependent on the buy-in from key stakeholders. Even if you have the best projects in the world, it's difficult to get them off the ground if people are unwilling to give them a chance. That's why motivation is so important.
Several techniques around promoting motivation exist. Whole frameworks have even been published around the topic. We would suggest starting by first creating profiles on each of your stakeholder groups. Try and identify what it is that resonates with each stakeholder groups as an area of concern, and what a positive outcome would look like for them. Then, sell them on these benefits. Be sure to build this into your stakeholder communication plan, communicating them the benefits that they care most about.
An example of how different stakeholders have different motivations is as follows. An organisation may include both a sales department and manufacturing department. The sales department may be most interested in revenue, whereas the manufacturing department is most interested in the volume of goods produced. A new project devised means that the organisation runs more efficiently. This would be sold to the manufacturing department as a way to increase the rate of goods production, but to the sales team as a way to increase revenue.
Another technique that you’ll see appears regularly in change management models is the idea of pursuing quick wins. This is very much tied to improving motivation, as realising quick wins can be a driving force behind stakeholder buy-in.
A strategy of pursuing quick wins can be achieved through first prioritising smaller projects, that have low risk and low disruption. Even if the outcome isn’t huge, pursuing these projects first can serve to prove to the wider organisation of the potential of your change management programme. In the case that most of your change projects are large, consider first rolling them out over a smaller part of the organisation. This is sometimes known as a ‘pilot programme’. It makes it quicker and less risky to achieve a quick win, that can then be used as justification to roll-out over a larger portion of the organisation. Remember, when you do achieve a quick win, communicate it to your stakeholders, strengthening their buy-in.
The fourth technique that you’ll see throughout change management models is promoting a change management culture. Think of change management culture as an end goal that your change management programme will strive to achieve. We’ve discussed culture in other articles, explaining how it is made up of the beliefs, attitudes and practices of the people in your organisation. Since change management has a particular focus on people, this should be a main consideration in your strategy.
A positive change management culture will embody this. It will involve everyone in the organisation being familiar with the change programme, the reasons for its existence and the benefits it can provide. It will mean people are supportive of the change, understanding not all of the projects will be successful, but supporting it nonetheless. There will be a willingness to try new practices and take calculated risks where necessary.
So now we understand what it is, how do we get to this point? We form a change management culture by putting into practice the techniques and models mentioned prior. The culmination of all these techniques and models, is what we’ll explain next; our change management toolkit.
Your change management toolkit is the different tools and strategies that you plan to use in your change management programme. It’s useful to dictate your change management toolkit in your change management plan. This keeps the tools and strategies front and centre of your programme. It can also be used to delegate the different roles and responsibilities that come with using tools and strategies to the appropriate individuals.
At this point, you may consider using some kind of centralised platform for tracking the delivery of change management projects, that also contains your tools and strategies. There is software available for this very purpose. For more information, head over to our contact us page, and one of our team will be happy to point you in the right direction.
Once your change management toolkit has been established and you've mapped how you're going to use it in your plan, it's time to get started on your change management programme. Using the tools and strategies described, you're sure to produce some great results. Good luck!