and assess the organization in order to create an ap-
propriate team structure and sponsor model and to de-
velop your change management strategy.”
To make this determination, change management
experts typically start with a change characteristics as-
sessment. This considers:
u Scope (workgroup, department, division, etc.)
u Number of individuals impacted
u Type of change, which may differ by individual group (i.e.,
policy, process, system, job role, downsizing)
u Amount of change (incremental or dramatic)
A readiness assessment can also be conducted to
determine whether employees have the capacity for
change and whether they’re more likely to adapt or resist. Leadership styles (e.g., centralized or decentralized) should be considered, as well as the positions
taken by individual managers. Do they advocate the
change, oppose it, or are they somewhere in between?
Once these factors have been established, it’s then
possible to develop a plan that’s aligned with the
unique attributes of the change(s) and those who will
be changing. This should include details on the team
structure, sponsor models, communications plans, and
resistance management, taking into account the factors
that would motivate individuals to accept the change
(for example, personal or companywide benefits).
IMPLEMENTING THE PLAN
Getting everyone on board and implementing the
plan comes next, using strategies like these to increase
the likelihood of success:
Involve all stakeholders, ASAP: In addition to
senior leadership, stakeholders can include technical
teams, junior level employees, support staff, etc. Senior leaders ideally provide vision and direction, while
others provide the information and expertise needed
for their areas of operation. By taking this approach,
concerns about requirements can be mitigated early on.
This may then make participants more willing to accommodate the needs of the larger group.
Communicate: This should be an ongoing and
transparent process that also begins as soon as possi-
ble. First on the agenda is determining the communi-
cations plan itself. Who will communicate what, and
when? The goal, ultimately, is to ensure that all parties
involved always have a clear understanding of the ini-
tiative, overall plan, timelines, and individual or team
tasks and responsibilities.
Individual communications, which can consist of
ongoing updates that are shared with all team members
and stakeholders, should also convey a sense of urgency. Why is the change needed? What’s wrong with the
status quo? What does the change involve? Why now?
What’s the expected outcome? How will this benefit
the company and employees?
Eliminate barriers: These can include those that
are common to many organizations, like managers
who don’t support change, inadequate information
systems, and/or formal structures and silos that limit
the ability of employees to act.
Test at all levels: For optimal results, any testing
that’s required should include users with varying levels
of competence. Although subject matter experts who
quickly adapt to new processes and systems are needed,
so are new team members and those who sometimes
struggle with change, as their participation can help
identify areas needing further tweaking and review.
Identify issues as they arise: During implementation, issues will present themselves, such as the ability
of employees to actually adopt changes. For instance,
as new systems or platforms are introduced, participants may discover that new equipment is needed, or
that they need additional training.
Ask for feedback: Even if it’s negative (and especially if it is), feedback is good. This will enable early
identification and remediation of any issues or flaws,
which will, in many instances, prevent small problems
from mushrooming. It will also show employees that
their input is valued and needed.
Be honest: This goes without saying. Not only
should management answer questions and address concerns, it should also practice proactive transparency.
That is, keep everyone in the loop.
Spotlight positive results: Watch for signs of progress
and reward successes, no matter how small.
Keep it going: Although this technically occurs after
the fact, it’s important to maintain momentum and continuously reinforce the change, lest it wither on the vine.
This can be done via training, incentives, policies and/or
promotions, until it, too, becomes the status quo.
Tim Kernan is Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Design, at
MSI Global Talent Solutions, a Hampton, NH-based firm focused
on helping companies grow, compete and globalize.