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What is Change Management and How Does it Work?

If I had a nickel for how many times I have been asked these questions by a client (even ones that hired me to do change management for them!) then I would be rich.  But, I would practically be a millionaire if we added a nickel for how many fellow consultants have asked me the […]

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December 06, 2012

If I had a nickel for how many times I have been asked these questions by a client (even ones that hired me to do change management for them!) then I would be rich.  But, I would practically be a millionaire if we added a nickel for how many fellow consultants have asked me the same question.  So, let’s take a moment and demystify “change management.”

What Change Management ISN’T

Let’s start by talking about what change management IS NOT.  We are not talking about change management in the way technical folks tend to talk about change management.

Note:  “Change,” for the purpose of this blog entry, is defined as transitioning/shifting an organization (as a whole and individually) from a current state to a future state.

Change management is not communications. It’s not training.  Many organizations make the mistake of thinking they are implementing change management by doing one or the other, without thinking holistically about how change works.

For example, imagine you were an employee at Company XYZ, and they had a new time entry system for you to use when logging in your daily hours.  How well would you use it if you were only told about the new system (and why your company is switching to it), but not how to use it?  On the flip side, how likely would you be to use it if you were told how to use it, but not why it’s needed?

Both scenarios create a tough environment for people to be informed, engaged, and active users of the new system.

 

What Change Management IS

Change management promotes and facilitates difficult transitions with multiple components designed to move a target audience from a current state (such as using a legacy time entry system) to a future state (such as using the new time entry system).  It is a framework based on multiple models and theories designed to move employees through a change (e.g., new system, new office, new business process, etc.)

Here are the seven key areas you should know to understand what change management is and how it works:

  1. Change Strategy:  How will you encourage employees to “own” this change?
  2. Communications:  Answering the “why, when, how and what” questions for the target audience
  3. Resistance Management:  How will you address slow adopters or naysayers?
  4. Feedback Mechanisms:  How will you allow for real-time and ongoing feedback?
  5. Project Management:  How will you make sure the change deploys on schedule?
  6. Leadership Sponsor:  Who is a credible leader for promoting buy-ins across the target audience?
  7. Training:  Does the target audience need to learn anything new to sustain this change?
Want To Learn More?

I recommend you check out the following great reads:

Do you know of other good books or articles? Feel free to share here!

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