While we talk so much on change management these days, that does not make every one of us an expert in the field. Many change management initiatives start with energy and willingness for change, just to fail and are forgotten several months after that. Change managers are the new heroes and villains in the companies. They are often seen as someone who comes to shake up the comfortable environment and then, after failing to hide and let others deal with what he or she has created. Change managers are catalysts for change from the senior leadership teams and as ones who come to threaten our comfort zone.
While planning for change, one of the hardest things to think of. For every change, the initiative leader is how to make the change happen, while balancing people’s needs, attitudes, emotions, etc.
There are 4 different phases of the change management initiative.
Following the specifics of these 4 phases, here five simple, but effective steps to help the change management initiative leader to succeed with the change.
Communicate early and often
According to the University of Vienna published a study back in 2018, more than 72% of the initiatives fail because of an unstructured and inconsistent communication. If a leader wants to build on an existing environment, the first step should be to start preparing the different groups of people for the change. As early as you start, the better the result will be. People need time to understand the pros of the change. We are so created that we are always ready to fight challenges and new things that threaten our style in work and life. To overcome this obstacle, the change management leader should be prepared with a clear strategy and communication plan before the change must happen. If you are one of these leaders then start as soon as you can. People’s mind changes slowly and there is no reason for people to faster that process, except if the leader does not give them a good reason for that.
Help people prepare
Communication at its own is not enough to ensure that the change will happen. People accept and participate in a change only when they feel ready. It is the change management initiative leader role to ensure that people have enough information, that all the questions are answered, and that the level of stress, caused by the upcoming change, is lowered to the sizes that will allow change to happen. People who understand what will happen and what will they have to invest to make that change happen are ready to participate. And when reaching that point of readiness for participation, people start supporting the change and engage themselves with the process.
Have clear points of contact
I hope you did not see this, but in my life, I have had several cases when I have been asked to participate in a change management initiative. After the strong words at the beginning pointing on how we are going to change the status quo and how this changes the environment at all. To participate, people need information. That is why the change manager must plan an informing strategy and execute it as it is planned and communicated. There must be points of communication on every milestone or every change in the already planned process that must be explained to others. What people hear is crucial about their willingness to further support or start resisting change. In every change, the one need is to give and have enough information so that you can make informed decisions if you want or do not want to participate. Unstructured information often leads to rumors and forming of disbelief in the change initiative.
Answer questions frequently
As people need information frequently, they also need to get personal answers on questions concerning only them. As a change manager, the leader who leads the initiative needs to plan time for personal answers. And this time should be flexible. People’s fears about change must be discussed as soon as they arise. That gives the individual the comfort for personal approach and significance. When equipped with enough information people lower the level of fear, anxiety, and resistance to the change planned and executed. And this leads to a higher level of engagement, a positive attitude, and a higher level of accountability toward the change initiative.
Celebrate what has been done
People connect everything by associating it with feelings and emotions. The fastest way to establish positive emotion is trough celebration. When we celebrate something, it is seen as positive and energizing. And at the same time, when something just goes on, without any activities, it is often associated with something bad that happens to us and the organization we are part of. To minimize the negative feeling the change manager must also think about how to communicate it as positive as the situation allows. The celebration is the shortest way to acceptance and done properly it can have a huge positive impact on the whole change management initiative
Change management is more of an attitude than a process. The most significant role in this process is one of the change managers who need to play as an actor, producer, and director of a complex project, while attracting other actors and fighting for the Oscar – the positive change that the initiative led will bring to the team and the organization. A well-established project plan is only one of the elements that are needed to succeed. But with a plan and people with the right attitude, supporting the change planned the change manager can change the organization for good.