The number one regret organizations have after implementing a change is an inadequate plan. The lack of strategic planning leads to unforeseen resistance and long-term consequences. As a strategic change adviser, I often ask clients what change management strategy was used in prior initiatives and often hear, ‘we sent an email’ or ‘we provided training.’ There’s nothing wrong with email or training but obtaining maximum adoption comes only when these two items are part of a full change management program. In today’s workplace mass email communications are less effective than ever and training…Who has 30 minutes or an hour to carve out of their work day?
At the most basic level, we should remember Change Management is a strategy. By definition, a strategy is a plan, method or series of maneuvers for obtaining a specific goal or result. That said, a communication or training does not constitute a plan, method or series of maneuvers and therefore cannot be considered Change Management.
Change management strategies should begin in the early phases of any project or initiative and start with building buy-in at the sponsor level and project level. This can often be accomplished by hosting a planning session to expose sponsors to the project while also identifying success criteria or goals and objectives. Gaining an understanding of how sponsors, stakeholders and the project team will define success post-deployment will provide valuable information when evolving the overall change management strategy.
Email is used more than any other form of communication in the workplace, this is exactly why we guide organizations to explore alternate means for communicating. Email will likely never be replaced, but we are seeing more and more clients using desk-drops, posters, flyers, digital signage, text messaging, voicemail and even home mailers to communicate with staff. As with anything, one method of communication is likely not enough, consideration should always be given to a combination of communication vehicles. This combination affords multiple opportunities for staff to consume the information and to build awareness – visual materials throughout buildings promotes engagement and conversation among peers – continuing to drive awareness.
Training opportunities are always a must, and the area we commonly coach organizations through is offering training that suits the needs of their staff. A training plan should be designed for every change initiative that incorporates different learning styles and works to accommodate staff schedules. Advance notice of training is imperative, as are frequent reminders of upcoming training. We design strategies for customers that blend communications and training plans in support of the objectives for each.
No plan is complete without an opportunity for reinforcing the change, change management should not be a ‘one and done’ mentality. Change management strategies should incorporate feedback loops and gap analysis to identify opportunities for ongoing training and communications to support maximum adoption.
The great thing about Enabling’s Change Management Process is the adaptability. Whether you are deploying a process, policy, technology or other change, the process below will set your organization up for success by driving adoption and return on investment.
Emails and training fall in the two middle phases and as you can see that each represents a maximum of 25% of the overall strategy. Only doing 50% of your workout doesn’t have optimal results, so why would a 50% investment in change management support maximum adoption?