What Is Change Management?
Blank stares, confused nodding, and the occasional, “Interesting…” are some of the responses I receive when I tell people I’m a Change Management Consultant. Unfortunately, Change Management is still a novel practice for many. It is viewed as a nice to have versus a need to have when anticipating an organization-wide change. The reality is today’s rapidly changing world means organizations must adapt and embrace change to maintain a competitive advantage. But what exactly is Change Management, and why is having a well-planned Change Management Strategy vital to the effectiveness of any organizational change?
Change Management is essentially guiding people through a transition from a current state to a future desired state, whether it’s upgrading to new workplace technology, undergoing a merger/acquisition, or switching from a traditional closed-office workspace to activity-based working. Change Managers lead individuals through change by playing two roles – a supportive role by ensuring employees feel prepared to take on the change, and a directive role by planning and executing change engagements.
Whatever the change may be, no matter how big or small, or the anticipated degree of change, it is critical to have a thoughtfully planned strategy to positively influence:
- Employee adoption
- Return on Investment (ROI)
- Minimizing productivity dips
- Keeping rumors at bay
Employee adoption. Humans are innately resistant to change. We seek comfort in routine even if that routine is hindering us from realizing our full potential. Here Change Managers play a supportive role. By being transparent with employees from the start of a project and communicating the why, when, and how through a series of thoughtfully planned engagements to garner support, Change Managers help employees embrace rather than resist change.
ROI. So what is in it for an organization going through all of this change? ROI. ROI in Change Management terms is the realization of expected project benefits, which is why employee adoption and utilization is critical to project success. These factors can be evaluated by identifying project metrics at the start of a project and assessing those metrics pre- and post-change. Protecting ROI through a Change Management strategy ensures project milestones are met, employees are adopting change at a measurable rate, and the project budget is being optimally utilized.
Minimize productivity dips. Transitioning from one state to another can be chaotic, which can understandably lead to dips in productivity. Change Managers take a directive approach by tailoring engagements around training and information sessions to prepare employees for what to expect, minimizing the potential for reduced productivity.
Keep rumors at bay. Many organizations deploy a Change Management strategy in a reactive approach rather than a proactive one. Waiting until after project rumors are spreading like wildfire to implement a strategy is emotionally draining for employees and makes it difficult later to establish fact from fiction. On the other hand, rumors can be nipped at the bud using structured communications from a preferred sender.
In a world where the only constant is change, having a well-formulated Change Management Strategy allows organizations to successfully adapt to an ever changing landscape.
Samar is a Change Management and Communications Analyst at PDR. She has several years of experience in a consulting role working on projects related to change in the workplace with clients from various industries ranging from technology to healthcare to oil and gas.