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6 Ways to Make Change Management A Core Competency

One of the best parts about my job is that I get to stay on top of all the latest and greatest articles relating to change management, strategic planning, and execution.

I recently read an article titled “Change Management: 6 reasons it fails” that really struck a chord in me.

At AchieveIt, we focus on balancing both software and organizational culture to improve execution. While becoming a software expert is important, spending an equal amount of time impacting an organization’s culture is critical.

Part of culture change is managing change management and change management initiatives. The article calls for leaders to make change management a core competency. I couldn’t agree more.

Great Companies Leverage Change Management

One of the many things that separate good companies from great companies is their ability to make meaningful, lasting changes to their organization. It all starts with a solid company strategy and a plan to execute that strategy. I bolded the word lasting because long-term execution and adoption of a new company direction are directly correlated to your ability to create long-term change.

Anyone can try something new for a quarter. How do you ensure that everyone’s in it for the long haul?

Common Reasons Change Management Fails

As with anything that’s difficult there are many ways your plans can fail if you’re not laser-focused.

As mentioned in the article, there are six ways change management efforts fail:

1)   Sacrificing strategy for speed

2)   Forgetting the end-user

3)   Losing the forest through the trees

4)   Communicating too little, too late

5)   Overcomplicating your message

6)   Failing to ask for feedback along the way

I could write a blog post about each and every one of the potential change management failures listed. Instead, I wanted to provide a brief overview of each of these. To start, let’s focus on something I see quite often: forgetting about the end-user.

Organizational Change Management Focuses on the End-User

If you are going to get long-term buy-in from your various stakeholders you must make it a focus. You can’t just put the plan in front of them, tell them to execute, and review it once in a while. You have to make it abundantly clear what’s in it for them if the plan succeeds or if the plan fails.

If you forget to incent your teams they’ll think of your grand plans as nothing more than extra work. A fully executed plan and change initiative should improve the organization. That improvement should include something in it for your people beyond their salary.

If you’re able to keep your end-user in mind then it’s entirely possible that you can make change management a core competency for your organization. If you’re able to do that, you’re creating a valuable competitive advantage. An advantage that many of your competitors lack.

Change Management is Strategically Paced

A common mistake for many organizations is trying to move too quickly. While it’s important to not delay the execution, moving too quickly can sacrifice strategy for speed.

The strategy of change management is a critical component in because it ties all of the change initiatives together. Many people make the mistake of thinking change management needs to be an initiative that runs parallel with other change projects. Instead, they should take the time to think about how change management relates to other changes happening in their organization.

To make change management a core competency, it is critical for companies to approach change as part of the overall strategy and not only as an independent project.

When change organizations are able to work within the parameters provided by strategic planning, it is much more effective than trying to plan around a single change.

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Organizational Change Management Focuses on the Broader Picture

When focusing on detailed initiatives within a plan, it can be easy to lose the broader picture. To effectively enact change across an organization, you must focus on the larger landscape.

What change initiatives are currently active in your organization? What change initiatives have been initiated but there’s no clear direction? Once you can answer those questions, it should be easier to decide where change management needs to be applied.

To make change management a core competency, change leaders must be able to identify change initiatives already in progress and whether they are being supported across your organization. As organizations undergo change, change management leaders must be able to not just assess the current status but also identify the changes that have been initiated and whether they are being supported or not.

If a change initiative is taking place through your organization, you should be able to answer “yes” to these questions:

(1) Is change management being applied in one or more stages of the strategic plan?

(2) Is change management being applied to change across multiple functions or divisions, or is change limited to one function at a time?

(3) Are change leaders across functions and businesses aligned on the change process?

All companies are subject to change, and that means as an organization’s needs shift it is important to have people who can focus on change management. If an organization wants employees focused on strategy rather than being bogged down in detail, they must focus on the broader picture of organizational change management.

Effective Change Management Takes Communication

Change is not a top-down, one-way process. If your initiative requires effective change management, change leaders should be able to work with change agents to plan and follow up on change initiatives.

By including people as change agents, you create an environment where change can happen from the bottom up as well. Using change agents to help implement change is a smart way to ensure change happens and that change initiatives are effectively communicated throughout the organization.

The change will not succeed without high levels of support at all levels within the organization. It’s important for change leaders to take into account how change management can affect those outside their group and consider how to communicate the plan to implement the change.

The Best Change Management has a Simple Message

As you work towards successful change, change management leaders must work to make change a positive experience. Throughout the implementation of change initiatives, change leaders should focus on communicating a simple message. An overcomplicated message can lead to resistance to change as it doesn’t connect in a relatable way for the larger organization.

So, throughout the change, keep the communication simple. Tailor the message through a structured approach on what makes sense for the relevant individuals. Don’t overcomplicate the message and attempt to explain everything that you are accomplishing. Instead, focus on a simple high-level “why”. Focusing on the “why” will increase the change of successful change.

Effective Organizational Change Management Collects Feedback

If change management leaders hope to maintain an organization’s momentum, it’s critical to check for feedback on organizational change throughout the change process.

Leverage feedback tools like surveys, town halls, and individual meetings to understand how the change is being perceived by employees at all levels of the organization.

But don’t stop by just collecting the feedback. If feedback is collected and no changes occur, you can inadvertently increase the resistance to change. Leverage the feedback to make adjust the change management plan and increase the chance of success.

Making Change Management a Core Competency

All companies are subject to change at some level. And that means as organizational needs shift, it is important to have people who can focus on change management.

If an organization wants employees focused on strategy rather than being bogged down in detail, they must focus on the broader picture of organizational change management.

Start with the end-user and keep them in mind throughout the process. Prevent individuals from getting stuck in details of change management by taking a broad, strategic approach to implementing change.

Instead of promoting change from top-down, include input from all stakeholders and communicate effectively across the organization. Ensure that the message is simple as an overcomplicated message will only lead to resistance to change. And lastly, collect feedback throughout the change management process to keep you on track.

Leveraging change management as a core competency will ensure you and your organization are around for years to come and the customers you serve will continue to grow with you.

About AchieveIt

AchieveIt is the platform that organizations use to get their biggest, most important initiatives out of the boardroom and into reality. There are so many great ideas never quite make it across the finish line because there’s no real way to keep everyone on track. You’ve got to:

  1. Get everything in view in real-time
  2. Get everyone engaged while also holding them accountable
  3. Get every possible advantage drawing on the experience and best practices of our execution experts

That’s why everyone from global corporations, to regional healthcare systems, to federal agencies have turned to AchieveIt for their Integrated Plan Management. Let’s actually do this.

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Organizations of all types leverage AchieveIt to connect, manage, and execute their most important initiatives. Replace manual processes & siloed systems with interconnected plans in a single, automated platform.

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