|June 5, 2013|
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Riding the Waves of Change
By Mark Hordes
Change management initiatives often encounter rough waters because the organization asks employees to do something differently. Furthermore, initiatives muddy the water when change management processes and tools aren't aligned and integrated into the overall project initiative.
Organizations can take steps to help employees take to change as a duck takes to water. Before delving into how to implement change initiatives that increases your organization's chance of success, it's important to define it to get everyone on the same page. Change management is a process in which an organization involves the workforce in the change. The organization identifies any resistance to reduce it, increases the ownership and buy-in with leadership support and makes communications and training a priority.
PREPARING FOR RESISTANCE
The two most common questions that come out of these activities are "What's in it for me to go along with the change?" and "What will not change?" Addressing both issues calls for setting up a communications system especially prior to starting any change effort. Some companies set up hotlines to address questions and rumors, some run town hall meetings and some send email blasts or newsletters or post answers to frequently asked questions online on the company website or bulletin boards.
GAINING LEADERSHIP SUPPORT
Organizations need to assign sponsorship at various levels of the organization. These stewards champion the change process particularly when they run into roadblocks. Sponsors must have the tools and change intervention techniques to identify and address issues, be active listeners, ask open-ended questions and turn problem into opportunities.
COMMUNICATING WITH EMPLOYEES
After the effort begins, an organization randomly contacts employees to see how much the workforce knows about the change and its impacts. Organizations have a higher rate of success when sponsors provide progress reports twice a week, listen to employees and process the feedback. These actions show employees that communication and feedback are a valued and positive part of the effort.
Organizations often do change management work without having a measurement process to track the successful accomplishment of milestones. Thus, consider using a highly flexible survey process.
Here's a link to a sample assessment tool for measuring change management progress. You can use the questions from each section of the tool in focus groups, interviews or surveys for assessing progress.
The result is a baseline that illustrates key areas that can make or break a change initiative. With the baseline firmly in place, an organization can make plans to increase areas where results are less than satisfactory, such as communications and engagement. They can accelerate successful areas like sponsorship to gain greater support and visibility through highly engaged sponsorship activities.
SMOOTH SURFING AHEAD
Mark Hordes is senior vice president and principal with Sinclair Group, a Houston-based operational and organizational excellence consultancy. For more information contact: www.thesinclairgroup.com.
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