Let’s get right down to it. You want to spend your budget where it’ll make a real impact, so it’s only natural to wonder: do you really need to invest in change management for your organization?
Consider the strategic changes you’d like to make to your organization. Whether it’s a new management style, new software, a branding change, or anything else, there is a reason you are making this change: to increase the bottom line and improve the daily operations of your organization. But to make sure you meet the goals of your proposed change, you need to come up with a change management plan.
Change management involves arming employees who will be impacted by the proposed change with the tools and skills they need to succeed. It also involves setting expectations and making sure everyone understands their role and responsibilities in the change.
Here are just a few ways change management can help you meet your goals:
- Increase employee engagement and decrease frustration with changes to your operations and technology
- Align organizational practices with constantly evolving company values
- Ensure your employees’ feedback is incorporated and that their time is respected
- Reduce cost and risk of change
- Improve ROI of projects
- Build consistency and efficiency handling change as your company grows
So, yes. The answer is yes, your organization does need to invest in a change management plan. And as you start thinking about what change management means for your organization, it’s important to think about what change management is not.
We’re here to bust four common change management myths and show you that a change management plan is necessary, doable, and fruitful.
Myth #1: Change Happens Overnight
Unfortunately, a one-time announcement of a change and a one-off training session, no matter how comprehensive, just aren’t going to cut it. Before you roll out any change, schedule regular, ongoing trainings to reinforce necessary skills and knowledge.
For the first month following the change, trainings should occur at least once a week. Then slowly transition to once every other week, once a month, once a quarter, and so on until the project is no longer a change, but a staple of daily operations (plot twist: change management never ends). That’s right. Change management is a journey, not a destination. As long as your company is growing and evolving, you should be deploying change management best practices.
One tip to facilitate successful ongoing trainings is to ensure you have a centralized source of truth for policies, procedures and access to training materials. Leaders can upload trainings, how-to guides, and video demonstrations so that employees can review training documents, easily search and reference them as needed, and continue to learn from each other outside of meetings.
Myth #2: Employees Don’t Need To Know Why
A common misconception is that an organization’s leadership should shield it’s employees from “problems.”
What if we didn’t think of change as a response to a “problem,” but rather an opportunity to make an improvement to the organization that will benefit everyone?
Contrary to popular belief, employees should be informed of exactly why you’re making this change in the first place, how the change will affect each team, and the results the organization can expect to see. When employees are kept in the loop, they have a better understanding of the big picture, their role in the process, and the necessity of the change, and they’ll feel more invested in making it happen. Transparency is key.
Myth #3: There’s No ROI In Change Management
A recent article on Prosci says it best: “The ROI of change management really is the ROI of the project— because the result of applying change management is the achievement of intended results and outcomes for the project.”
It’s highly likely that whatever change you’re implementing for your organization is going to cost you time and money. In fact, we can almost guarantee it. So busting this myth is really quite simple: with poor change management, or no change management, it is likely that whatever new product or strategy you’ve invested in will be poorly received, employees will lack the skills and knowledge necessary to achieve the desired outcome, and the ROI of the project will be less than desired.
When deploying change management best practices, employees gain the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful, continue to hone those skills with ongoing training, and feel more engaged and valued. This helps boost productivity, which will help you achieve the desired results of the project.
Myth #4: Every Employee Will Be Excited About Change
While some employees might quickly recognize the benefits that a proposed change will have for them, others will likely be wary about learning new technology or changing their daily behavior.
Resistance is part of change. Embrace it! Successful change requires a wide variety of perspectives in order to be workshopped and perfected. The key is to give the naysayers a productive space to constructively offer their criticisms, so that negativity doesn’t seep out into the workspace.
In addition to ongoing trainings, hold weekly discussion sessions and open the floor for employees to discuss their frustrations with the change, possible solutions, and any positive benefits. While leaders should facilitate the discussion and have questions or prompts prepared to get the conversation started, they should avoid dominating the conversation. This is leadership’s opportunity to listen, learn, react, and make employees feel valued and respected.
Change is never easy. But with the right tools, a well-developed plan, patience, and some elbow grease, you will see the fruits of your labor. Make sure to track both the hard and soft ROI of your change initiative so that you can demonstrate its value to both leaders and team members affected by the change. And remember to take your time implementing the change, accept that evolution is a system of trial and error, and listen.
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