Lately, I've been delving into the ins and outs of 'Change in organizations'. Experience has taught me a few solid lessons I'll take with me to future endeavors:
I found a great book that presents a framework for change management, with tangible examples and in an easy to read fashion:
Change management: the people side of change - JM. Hiatt & TJ. Creasy
The following is a summary of the key concepts I found useful and a gathering of links that can help you quickly get up and running with the framework.
The authors walk you through foundational concepts of change adoption and the key drivers of successful change implementations. The start with the ‘5 tenets of change’, follow with high-level change management principles and close off with an overview of the different levels change management can be applied to and how.
The whole book is sprinkled with concepts brought from the ADKAR model (free guides available following the link) and how to bring it to life: the change management process/framework.
This summary will be split into the following sections:
the 5 tenets of change
ADKAR model overview
change management process
adoption of change for individuals
Solid foundations as to why change won’t come for free and needs shepherd:
We change for a reason
a future state can be envisioned that is different from today
the change will help us achieve a specific and desired outcome
Organizational change requires individual change
ultimately, change results from people adopting new skills and demonstrating new capabilities
Organizational outcomes are the collective result of individual change
without the engagement of each employee who must do his or her job differently as a result of the change, we lack tangible benefits from the change
Change management is an enabling process/framework for managing the people side of change
failing to lead the people side of change results in lower utilization, a slower speed of adoption, poorer proficiency, … less benefit from the change
We apply change management to reach the benefits and desired outcomes of change
These are the what and why of change management and help establish the value proposition for change management inside an organization.
Change is a process. As such, it can be broken down into discrete periods of time or states of change. Leaders can then adapt their strategies based on where they are in the change process. The ADKAR model characterizes the process in five key steps:
Awareness of the need to change
nature of change and the why behind it
Desire to participate in and support the change
personal choice to embrace change and commit to moving forward
Knowledge about how to change
education and training on how to change and be effective at it
Ability to implement new skills and behaviors
demonstrated proficiency with new tools, processes and job roles
Reinforcement to keep the change in place
rewards, recognition, compensation or other performance management activities that sustain the change for that person
Change agents must be conscious of both a sender’s meaning and a receiver’s interpretation
perspective always plays a role in communication
leaders must not only ensure communications are clear but also listen to employees to understand how the message has been received
Employee resistance is the norm, not the exception. Expect some employees to never support the change
Visible and active sponsorship is not only desirable but necessary for success
sponsor’s participation should be active and visible, ensuring a coalition of sponsorship between key business leaders and communicating directly with employees about why the change is needed
early sponsorship settlement eases resourcing, funding and timely roadblock removals
The “right answer” is not enough to implement change successfully and does little to mitigate resistance
the top-ranked reasons for change resistance are:
lack of awareness of the need to change
impact on current job role
organizations past performance with change
lack of visible support from managers
None of these are related to the “rightness” of the solution!
employees seek answers to questions like:
Why are we changing this in the first place?
What is wrong with how things are done today?
Why is this change happening right now?
Are senior leaders truly committed to this change?
Employees go through the change process (ADKAR) in stages and go through these stages as individuals
To put these concepts into practice, two management approaches are necessary: the employee’s perspective and the organization’s perspective.
Train the organization’s line managers to correctly leverage the tools and processes that will support employees through their personal transitions through change.
This book focuses on the use of the ADKAR model as a tool to:
enable timely and helpful communication
a diagnostic tool
a corrective action tool
The main pillars that help drive individual change are assessments and individual coaching. Understanding where someone is at in the change adoption process and catering to the individual’s particular needs will go a long way. You can leverage these worksheets to run an individual's assessment and offer guidance as to where to place your focus as change-leader. With them, you can:
find root-causes to change aversion
determine corrective actions
For more information on how to apply ADKAR, visit this link.
When facing an individual with low levels of change comfort in one of their states, you can leverage the following example questions to guide the conversation and gain insights:
Awareness: Do you understand the business reasons for making this change? Do you agree?
Desire: Do you want this change to happen? Would you prefer keeping things the way they are? What would cause you to want this change to happen?
Knowledge: Do you know how to adopt <the_change> and the required skills to support the change?
Ability: Have you done this before? Do you feel capable or are in need of guided training?
Reinforcement: Are you receiving the necessary support to sustain this change?
The most effective change management process consists of three phases, including:
Preparing for change
Avoid fire-fighting. Prepare upfront!
The process proposed is simple and holds up to the notion that when you come prepared you are ready to succeed. It breaks down into three well-defined phases. Here is a quick dive into each of them.
This is when you:
Define your change management strategy
Prepare your team of change-drivers
Develop your sponsorship model
You’ll find yourself assessing the scope of change: How big is the change? How many people are affected? Is it gradual or radical?
You’ll also asses the readiness of your organization: How much change is already going on? What values support this shift? What type of resistance can be expected?
Finally, you’ll need to acquire the correct resources and assess the strengths of the team that will drive change, together with the sponsor coalition that will back the implementation. Taking the first steps to enable your sponsors to effectively lead the process will be key.
At this point in time you will:
Develop change management plans
Communication: be sure to share the right message at the right time. Eg. Early-stage messages should be crisp and to the point, avoiding message cluttering.
Transmit the rationale for the change and the need that drives it
Transmit the envisioned endstate of the organization: objectives, scope, size, …
Be clear about who is impacted
How - when - who - what
Coaching: Front-line supervisors must support the sponsor’s vision as they will lead the individual change management plans (explained in the previous section)
Sponsor roadmaps: Business leaders and executives play a key role in change as sponsorship is been consistently pointed out as the most important factor for change success
Sponsorship involves active and visible participation throughout the process. Do not confuse involvement with basic support
Resistance management: here is where front-line managers play a key role, identifying, understanding and managing resistance throughout the organization
Take action and implement plans: pulling it all together
Ensure ownership of the change is transferred from the change management team to the organization.
During the final phase you will:
Collect and analyze feedback: listen and watch to see if the new processes, tools, … are being correctly used.
Diagnose gaps and manage resistance: with data on your side, analyze the root cause for any resistance and define corrective action plans.
Implement corrective actions and celebrate successes: early win celebrations are key. Try to not overlook sharing achievements with employees
Managing the people side of change, whether on a large company-wide consolidation project or with a very small change project, does not require difficult or complete steps. What is required is the application of a thoughtful process for managing the change that is customized for the size and complexity of each project.
Employee’s survival guide to change - Jeffrey M. Hiatt
Fernando BordalloAtlassian Team
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