Don’t ignore the “people” side of change


By Ashley Borris
Talent Officer, Human Resources
Unit Trust Corporation

10 Rules of Change Management

Most leaders planning change know that people matter. It is all too tempting however to dwell on the plans and processes – rather than face up to the more difficult and more critical human side of the change. Organizations today are changing rapidly. What you want is for your team members to be in sync with the change, understand why the change is needed and how they will be impacted.

Here are 10 rules companies should employ to successfully adopt and embrace change:

1. Get buy-in from top management

When top management are active and visible throughout the life of the project and stakeholder communication was clear and timely, team members are more likely to adopt and embrace the change.
Executive teams that work well together are best positioned for success. They are aligned and committed to the direction of change, understand the culture and behaviors the changes intend to introduce, and can model those changes themselves.

2. Don’t ignore the “people side” of change

The transition from the old to the new will create “people issues.” Team members will be uncertain and could be resistant to any new change. Dealing with this in a reactive and superficial way puts speed, morale, and results at risk. Getting your team on board is the first step to initiating change.

3. Apply a structured methodology for managing change

PROSCI, one of the leading research companies of change management, developed a model that can be utilized by companies to effectively manage change. This model is called the ADKAR  model: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. The model was developed to allow for a smooth and effective transition. It is like a roadmap for getting people to embrace the changes taking place.

For any change to be successful, consider this model known as ADKAR :

Aware of the change. Communicate directly to employees why the change is being made now and how it will be beneficial to the organization. This is to ensure there is enough buy-in from the onset and all misconceptions will be cleared up by team members.

Desire. Team members are going to ask, “What’s in it for me?”, so be prepared. Once you build desire;

Knowledge is a powerful tool on how to change. If it is a new system being implemented, training may be necessary for team members utilizing it.

Ability. This is where team members are given the time, space and resources to apply the change.

Reinforcement. To reinforce the change, one must now find ways to sustain the change and ensure persons do not revert to the old way of doing things. This can be in the form of goal
planning and celebrating successes.

4. Increase success.

Research has shown that when change management is applied they are:
6 more times likely to achieve project objectives
5 times more likely to stay ahead of schedule and,
2 times more likely to stay on budget and schedule

By carefully implementing change management, you can lessen the likelihood that your project will fail when change is implemented. When everyone is not on board with the change, or when changes are made too quickly, then projects can fail.

5. Change management early.

Organizing mass training sessions in the last phases of the project’s deployment or launch will be necessary, but not always enough. The last thing the project team want is active resistance and things not catered for. Disputes can be mitigated drastically by using change management guidelines from the earliest stages of the project. We’re not talking about a quick-fix patch to deal with a mutiny that is steadily becoming a problem. Change management works at its best in one case only: when it’s used to on-board and motivate employees to embrace the novelty of the new.

6. Communication essential.

Too often, change leaders make the mistake of believing that others understand the issues, feel the need to change, and see the new direction as clearly as they do. The best change programs reinforce core messages through regular, timely communication that is both inspirational and practicable.

Communications from the top is targeted to provide employees with the right information at the right time and to solicit their input and feedback.

7. Culture.

In major transformation, the focus is on devising the best strategic and tactical plans. But to succeed, they also must have an intimate understanding of the human side of change management – the alignment of the company’s culture, values, people, and behaviors — to encourage the desired results.

Plans themselves do not capture value; value is realized only through the sustained, collective actions of team members who are responsible for designing, executing, and living with the changed environment.

8. Speak to the impacted.

Team members need to know how their work will change, what is expected of them during and after the change, how they will be measured, and what success or failure will mean for them and those around them. Team leaders should be as honest in messaging this. People will react to what they see and hear around them and need to be involved in the change process.

9. Involve every layer.

As change programs progress from defining strategy and setting targets to design and implementation, they affect different levels of the organization. Change efforts must include plans for identifying leaders and pushing responsibility for design and implementation, so that change “cascades” through the organization.

10. Prepare for the unexpected.

No change program goes completely according to plan. Effectively managing change requires continual reassessment of its impact and the organization’s willingness and ability to adapt to the next change.

Fed by real data from the field and supported by information and solid decision-making processes, change leaders can make the adjustments necessary to maintain momentum and drive results.
Leadership teams that fail to plan for the human side of change often find themselves wondering why their best-laid plans have gone away. Change is inevitable, but you don’t have to become a victim of it.