What is Change Management?
Most businesses look very different now to how they did three years ago, and looking forward to the next three years will involve other significant changes. Having the right skills and tools to manage change in your business can make the difference between thriving and surviving.
The principle that you need to “evolve or die” is therefore central to organisational success. Unless your business keeps up with changes in your market, changes by your competitors or changes in customer needs are likely, in the long run, to fail. But while there are thousands of examples of companies that were affected by a lack of change, there are just as many businesses that tried to innovate but did not deal with the people-side of change in the right way.
Change management is the processes, principles, and techniques involved in bringing your people with you, and is essential to the evolution of your business. Doing it well usually involves a structured process to make sure that the people-side of change is properly managed. Using, the right approach will help to ensure that the major project or initiative in your business is implemented efficiently, adopted properly by your people and embraced by your customers and suppliers.
We’re too small to need change management…..
When change is not managed properly it can lead to reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, delays in the delivery of your project(s), and lower returns on your investment. In extreme cases, poor change management can lead to the failure of the company and it is therefore essential to consider the people-side of change in your organisation; no matter its size.
In very small companies, you will often find that there is a huge degree of unmanaged change occurring, but the negative effects can be mitigated by the small size. It is easier to communicate a change in person to 5 people than it is to 50. And the more people you need to communicate with, the more difficult it is to know that your messages are being received in the right way. As businesses grow, these same approaches no longer work as well, and the need for planned and managed change becomes ever more important.
Whether it is it the launch of a new product, the implementation of a new business system, or just a different way of doing things; managing change properly will make your business more successful.
The three stages of change management
There are many different methodologies out there for managing change but most agree that there are three key stages to embedding a change in your business:
Many change efforts fail due to a lack of planning and a lack of communication in the mistaken idea that making the change quickly will deliver benefits earlier. The preparation stage should be used to communicate what the change will be, explain the benefits of the change to your people, and planning how the change will be rolled out to the different people in your organisation.
At this stage, you will need to train your people in the new system or approach, communicate the benefits to them (and the business) of the change, and provide different mechanisms for people to access the information they want in the way they want. At this stage, a successful project will deliver the right balance of communication and access to content for your people, and this is very much a Goldilocks moment; too little and it won’t take – too much and your people will suffer from information overload.
This is often the neglected aspect of change management and is essential to truly embedding the change into your organisation. Follow-up communications to staff, testing understanding. and success stories about the change are all needed to avoid your people slipping back into “bad habits”.
The role of learning in delivering change
In all three of the stages, learning plays an essential role in helping your people through the change process. They need to learn why the change is a good thing, learn how their role has adapted as a result of the change, and learn how to deliver using the new system or process.
Every organisation is a collection of individuals and your approach to learning can have a significant impact on how well each individual responds to the change. There are a range of models that can be used to help you identify what information your people need, when they need it, and how to deliver it. Prosci’s ADKAR model is one of the easiest to get to grips with and identifies 5 key needs for your people:
Awareness of the need for change
How will you ensure that the messages are seen and understood by your people?
Desire to participate in and support the change
How will you track who is signed up to the process and who needs additional support or encouragement?
Knowledge on how to change
How will you help your people understand what is required of them and give them the information they need about the new ways of working?
Ability to implement required skills and behaviours
How will you develop and embed new competencies so that your people can be more effective, quicker?
Reinforcement to sustain the change
How will you share updates and test ongoing understanding of the new normal?
An effective learning programme, Learning Management System, and change management system to support it can make a significant difference to how you manage change while significantly reducing the admin involved. There are a range of low cost solutions for SMEs that allow you to:
- Allow staff to sign-up for face-to-face briefing sessions and then manage attendance automatically
- Issue communication automatically to the right staff; tracking who viewed it, when and how much they understood
- Deliver consistent online training via the platform and make it always available; giving staff the flexibility to learn at a time that suits them
- Allow staff to access documents, videos and other content on demand and determine who accessed it
While you will undoubtedly still need to manage change offline, a good LMS can be an important tool in helping you to manage change effectively and reduce the potential costs to your business.
Figuring out what will work best in your organisation can be difficult. To help you find out whether a LMS is for you, Cloudtrainer allows you to ‘try before you buy’. Getting it right can have a huge motivational impact on your people, improve your bottom line and make it easier for your people to learn and be more productive. With all the potential benefits to be had, why not give a LMS a try? Simply register today for your free trial.