Having worked in change management for a decade, I often find that change can come across as “fluffy” or “esoteric” or be dismissed as a “nice to have.” While many experts cite different methodologies and frameworks, I find the most effective approach is to keep it straightforward and simple. Connecting change to the everyday is key, and I’ve put some thoughts together on how to keep it real when it comes to change implementation.
At IDB Bank, we recently launched a new company vision and set of core values. “Driving Change” is one of those values, and we spend a lot of time thinking about how to make it real for employees. Some steps we’ve taken include creating a behavioral guide and an employee recognition program and embedding the values into our performance management, recruiting, and leadership development activities. Additionally, I think it’s important to demonstrate what change management looks like as a day-to-day practice to help employees learn in real time.
What Are We Talking About When It Comes To Change?
Commonly, change management is defined as the application of a structured process that helps people transition to a future state; transform mind-sets and behaviors; and adopt new ways of working. Core elements of change are managing resistance; enabling employee adoption; and building awareness and advocacy. When you embark on a change, the three main components you’ll consider are people, process, and technology, which are often triggered simultaneously during large-scale transformation.
When it comes to the process, keep it straightforward by addressing these six questions:
- What is changing and why? Start with your organization’s vision and strategy when making the case for change. Evaluate the current state vs. the future state, and address the change from a people, process, and technology perspective. Consider the magnitude to which these elements are changing, their impact, and why your organization will be better off, especially as it relates to your strategy.
- Expert tip: No change will be successful if it exists outside of a company’s vision and strategic plan.
- Who will be impacted? All projects should include a stakeholder analysis. Often, change/project leads focus on the end user and forget to really examine executive leadership involvement, project sponsors, mid-level managers, entry-level employees, and customers. Geographical location, job levels, and business units should all be considered in your analysis.
- Expert tip: A comprehensive stakeholder assessment will help you to avoid implementation gaps in your change plan.
- What do people need to be successful? Every company will want to know if a change is successful, so define success metrics early on. Empathy is critical, as you need to put yourself in stakeholders’ shoes and imagine what it will be like for them to experience the change. Developing the right communications and training plan is key, in addition to awareness building and change advocacy.
- Expert tip: Leader coaching is critical, so build out guidance for these groups to enable them to lead their people through the change.
- How will you engage stakeholders? This is often the most neglected component of a change initiative because change/project leads will build out a governance structure, meeting cadence and approval paths but stopping there. Too often, the focus is on senior leaders and organizationwide communications, but that just keeps your initiative “in the clouds” and disconnected from employees. Go back to your stakeholder analysis, and think about every single group that needs to be engaged. Consider mid-level management, cross-functional partners, employee engagement groups, and change networks to ensure your change goes viral.
- Expert tip: Administrative assistants are great change champions, as they are highly influential and good resources for communication, training, and advocacy.
- How will you implement? An effective change plan will be based on thorough due diligence, stakeholder alignment, and anticipating what people need to be successful (communications, training, coaching, etc.). During implementation, selling the change and incentivizing stakeholders are critical, so think about how to incorporate those messages as you execute activities.
- Expert tip: Make sure change management and project management are not competing forces throughout your initiative. Either integrate these activities or sync up with a shared PMO.
- How will you sustain the change? If you did your due diligence upfront, then you’ve already got your success metrics ready. Change adoption surveys, focus groups, and after-action reviews are all great feedback tools.
- Expert tip: Change is an iterative process, so even if you’ve achieved your change goals, continue thinking about how to make improvements as your change initiative transitions into a business-as-usual process.
Everyone Can Be an Agent of Change
If you want to embed change into your organization and achieve culture transformation, it’s important that every person in your company see himself or herself as a change agent. What really improves the employee experience is when people can directly impact their organization, make it better, and feel like they are serving a purpose every day they come to work.
Amanda Drozer is the Change Management and HR Transformation Leader at IDB Bank.