Delivering Effective Change Management

Delivering Effective Change Management

Insights | 15 March 2019

In today’s business world, the only constant is change. And while that can create tension in organisations, effective change management can help smooth the waters.

Many programmes start with a change management plan and jump straight into creating templates and documents. As this is born from a methodology-heavy approach, it may not be the most effective. By starting with the people affected and being immersed with the team, one can assess what they’re going through and create the structure around them. In other words: build the change management model around your team, rather than force them to conform. This is where agile techniques can be especially valuable.

The focus should be on helping people move from step A to step B, rather than presenting a complex plan that explains in detail how they’ll reach step Z. When there’s too much focus on templates, tools and frameworks, people can become alienated. Templates are useful but need to be used wisely. A focus on smaller increments that deliver just enough documentation can help people make the next step without worrying about what comes next. And, by taking a more step-wise approach, people are better placed to absorb changes to “master plans”.

Given much can change during the course of a project, effective change managers need to be flexible and not focused on a linear direction. By engaging with people more, they can create a change management regime that adapts to the specific needs of the organisation.

So, what makes a great change manager? Aside from having a close relationship with people in the business, experience suggests that some of the best change managers are those that come from the business coal face – they understand the impact of change directly and have “suffered” the pain of poorly executed changes in their past. That experience has taught them what works best rather than adhering to a specific and rigid methodology.

It’s important that the value of a change programme is measured. As the famous management consultant, Peter Drucker, put it – “you cannot manage what you don’t measure”. You need metrics to understand where you were and what new value has been added. Furthermore, when people start to provide feedback for improvements once a change programme is completed, that’s a sign that change has been accepted as users are taking ownership of what comes next. By engaging support early, issues can be proactively managed. Developing rapport, credibility and trust is critical.

The way we work has evolved significantly over the last 20 years. There is an increased focus on business transformation, which is imperative to keep up with new competitors and opportunities. This means there’s a constant need for effective change management, and change management skills embedded within an organisation. Older generation workers may only have seen a business go through significant change every five years. Today, change is constant. That means change management is moving towards coaching and managing continuous change – it is no longer just project-based.

If your business requires assistance with organisational change management, please phone us today on 1300 70 13 14.

About The Author

Marcus Ward, Principal Consultant at PM-Partners group

2 thoughts on “Delivering Effective Change Management”

  1. Sumeet Agrawal says:

    Very well written Marcus. One important aspect that I believe is crucial for any change manager is – that they themselves need to be adaptable to accept any change in their approach. They might have worked on so many processes and flowcharts and templates, which have worked for them in the past in implementing some complex change in an enterprise. But every enterprise and its employee needs are completely different. And what worked in past, needs to be re-looked and tweaked to make it workable for the new case. Just like Change managers have to read the resistance of stakeholders to get any change implemented, they also need to read and act on their own unconscious resistance in adapting to new optimized change processes.

    1. PM-Partners says:

      Some great points, thank you Sumeet. I agree that our approach to delivering and facilitating change needs to mirror and evolve in line with the organisations we work with. I’m always intrigued when asked to support an organisation looking to deliver an Agile project or adopt Agile ways of working, but a traditional waterfall approach is used to manage the change. It is also exciting to see the evolution of the discipline, as more of the Agile discipline adopts and practices change techniques. Ultimately, we need to start with out customer first, understand their needs and ways of working and tailor the method we use appropriately. But in a world where conversation is focused on Digital, Innovation, AI and Robotics, we need to consider an approach that focuses on user experience, enhanced collaboration and iterative development with the ability to pivot our course based on the sometimes rapidly changing trajectory. I also believe, as a profession, there is always opportunity to share our knowledge and experience so would welcome the chance to discuss this with you and others in greater depth over a coffee – physical or virtual. You’re welcome to email me at marcusw@pm-partners.com.au

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