People and Change Management

Running a successful business is all about effectively managing change. This change management applies to your market, industry, tools, processes, and team. And thanks to the far-reaching effects of digital transformation, change is taking place at faster and more frequent rates these days.

As your business shifts and responds to the market, you need to keep your people at the top of your change management. Whether you’re replacing outdated systems, upgrading your IT environment to stay compliant, or even implementing a whole new technology stack to address your evolving needs, the digital demand on your business is felt most acutely by your people.

One of the biggest concerns we hear and see from clients undergoing technology change is a lack of user adoption. This is obviously frustrating and expensive. But the good news is that with the right change management process, you can curb this risk and keep your team happy.

People, Technology, and Change

Did you know that studies suggest less than half of organizational change initiatives are successful? Those odds are not in your favor. So what can you do to make your technology change a success with your team?

Having worked with hundreds of businesses to plan their technology roadmap, organizational change management is a key focus of our consultants. We’ve learned that the key difference between success and failure relies largely on employee engagement.

 The most successful projects align people, process, and technology as a whole.

Your people, process, and technology each play a vital role in your success. Remove one and your project is no longer capturing the full scope of your business. It’s like a tripod with a missing leg; you’ll never capture a balanced, complete picture.

The sad truth is that the “people” piece is the most commonly overlooked and underappreciated piece. But in our experience, it’s the strongest success factor.

Employee buy-in of organizational changes will either make or break your project. Following these four “people” areas are the key to a successful change management plan in your business.

1. Wrangle in the Naysayers and the Forgotten Frontline

Engage the loudest – and the quietest – against change. It’s easy to identify the strong opposition, but there’s often a different – and equally powerful – kind of resistance. It lurks in the quiet corners of your office, and it’s subtly undermining your change management goals. By giving those both loudly and secretly opposing the change an opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns, you are investing them in the process and making them feel heard.

You should also pay special attention to your frontline staff during times of change. Often, businesses look to their management group to represent the interests of their teams. But your frontline is the face of your business, and the morale and input of this group make them absolutely essential to your change management plans. Their engagement is necessary for the project’s success, and they are arguably the most important group for you to win over.

2. Encourage the Defenders

Just like hearing out the opposition, you should amplify the excitement of your project’s biggest fans. Welcome their enthusiasm and encourage them to be your “on-the-ground” promotional squad. This band of merry changers should be given opportunities to share their ideas and interest in natural ways, like on a team collaboration forum or idea center.

By empowering this unofficial group of early adopters to use their voices, you are presenting the naysayer and neutral team members of your organization with genuine, unsolicited opinions to help reshape their perspectives on the change management process.

3. Shape the Trajectory

Some businesses like to step back and let the organization chart its own path with change. We would argue the value of actively partaking in the change management process. This way, you have the ability to influence the outcome – and steer the ship when needed.

A great way to guide the project’s path? Doing an activity with your team.

Whether it’s a physical walkthrough of a process as it’s done today, where each team member represents a step in the workflow, or a simple, collaborative whiteboarding session, the activity should include:

•  Vision | Show the “Why”
•  Direction | Explain the “How”
•  Action | Do the “What”

The end goal? Be a cohesive team, all on the same page about what the problem is, how you are addressing it, and why the change is necessary and positive.

4. Embrace the “Change Pains”

I have a quote hanging in my office that reads: Sometimes change is painful, sometimes it’s beautiful – but most of the time, it’s both.

There will be bumps along the way, but with growth comes growing pains.
Acknowledge them and talk about them, and then get back to work.

Always keep an open mind to the varying perspectives, differing opinions, and many learning styles that exist in your business. But even more important, stick to your defined goal. Do not falter on the core objective. Of the change management plans that fail, 48% were because of lack of follow-through. Don’t be a statistic. Fully embrace the change – and everything that comes with it – and engage your team along the way.

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