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What Are The Biggest Mistakes To Avoid When Implementing Change Management?

So you’re going to create and execute a change management strategy for your next project.  Good for you!  You’ve taken an important step on the road to success:  recognizing the need for thoughtful planning when it comes to implementing change. As you pull together your plan, here are a few things you want to avoid: […]

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April 19, 2013

So you’re going to create and execute a change management strategy for your next project.  Good for you!  You’ve taken an important step on the road to success:  recognizing the need for thoughtful planning when it comes to implementing change.

As you pull together your plan, here are a few things you want to avoid:

Mistake #1: Not learning from past changes

Unless your organization is brand new, it’s unlikely it has not rolled out a change (big or small) before.  You should use the lessons learned from rolling out these changes to form and inform your new change management approach.  This is the easiest and probably most valuable piece of information to shape your tactics and build an even stronger approach.

Key questions to ask about the previous change are:  what worked and what didn’t work?  Why or why not?  If you can get more details, ask for more!  Find out which communication mechanisms had the most impact, which champions were the strongest and which resources were the most helpful.

Mistake #2: Allowing rumors to fly

People talk.  Given a chance and an inkling of change approaching, people will fill in the blanks if you don’t.  Get ahead of the rumor mill by preparing your communications before rumors leak to the media and throughout your organization.

Your change management approach does not have to be fully pulled together to announce change is coming.  Key elements of the initial communications would be the why, when and how.  Be sure to note that feedback will be solicited, FAQs will be coming, and many more resources will be made available.

Then, provide a forum (such as an email address) which will capture ongoing questions, comments and concerns.  Be sure to arm managers, champions and your sponsor with talking points so when the questions start coming, they have answers!

Mistake #3:  Not proactively addressing resistance

People don’t like change.  If you don’t accept that and plan to address resistance, you’re creating a bumpy road for change.

So what should you do to address resistance?  Embrace it.  Remember that old adage about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer?  Engage resistors and find out why they are acting out.  Sometimes it’s simply that they don’t know enough, understand the change well, or don’t feel involved. Learn why and do what you can to address it.  And continually engage resistors through focus groups and demos…get their input!

Mistake #4: Not getting buy-in

So, it’s not just the resistors.  Everyone likes to be involved.  Soliciting feedback early in your change management process is key to understanding what could go wrong, tweaking it and correcting it.  If it’s a new system, this buy-in should involve employee input, pilot testing, and demos.

Do you know more mistakes to avoid during change management?  Share them here!

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