Objectives are unmet and milestones missed. The speed of adoption slows and projects start going over budget. Your utilization lowers and reworks are required. Employees become fatigued; your project fails to deliver. Morale decline and projects are abandoned. Your customers are impacted and employees leave. A legacy of failed change is left.
As organizations embark on projects to improve their businesses, many organizations forget that the introduction of any new or enhanced business capability presents a significant change to the organization. Employees may need to learn how to use a new tool, or perhaps their job role may change completely. So, before organizations undertake a new project, they should stop and consider the questions, How will this change my organization, and what do I need to do to ensure this change is successful?
This is where effective change management comes into play. Otherwise, companies will end up in potentially dire scenarios like those described above.
What is Effective Change Management?
As described by Prosci, a leader in effective change management practices, change management is “the process, tools and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve the required business results.” Prosci defines the following three elements as being crucial for any project’s success:
Leadership / Sponsorship: The most important aspect of any successful project is having an influential and visible sponsor. They should make sure to explain the vision and value of the project and help to build a coalition of supporters throughout the organization to help support the change.
Project Management: Project management is important to give structure to the technical side of the change.
Change Management: Change management is needed to support the people side of change.
The Why: Primary Reasons for Applying Change Management
What is important to remember about change management is that in most cases, to improve your business results, the people side of the change must be successful as well. If the people are unable to carry out the change or do not support the change, the business results you hoped to achieve will not be realized. According to Prosci’s research, participants surveyed indicated that when their organizations deployed change management techniques, they were:
- 6x more likely to meet project objectives
- 73% of projects meet or exceed objectives based on sponsor effectiveness
- Active and visible executive sponsorship is the top contributor to success by a 4:1 margin
Another way of thinking about this is to ask yourself: What percent of my project’s outcomes are linked to people changing how they do their work? Consider the following simplified example:
- 100% of your project’s outcomes are linked to people changing how they do their work
- You expect the outcome of the project to save $1 million for your business
- Only 50% of people effectively change how they do their work in the anticipated time frame for the project
- You only end up saving $500,000 instead of the anticipated $1 million
A few additional reasons for applying change management may include:
- Increasing the probability of project success
- Managing employee resistance to change
- Building change competency in the organization
Using ADKAR Methodology for Successful Change Management
ADKAR is a methodology for managing individual change and stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement. Organizations can use ADKAR to understand how to guide organizational change management plans, diagnose root causes of resistance, and develop corrective actions.
ADKAR is a series of building blocks, meaning that an individual must first obtain Awareness of the change, then Desire, then Knowledge, and so forth. If an individual does not adequately obtain one of the building blocks, this is their “barrier point” for successful change.
By evaluating where an individual’s “barrier point” is in ADKAR, an organization can help to develop corrective actions. For example, if an individual’s barrier point is Knowledge, perhaps they need additional training to better understand the change and what will be required of them.
Reinforcing the Change
Once a change has been effectively implemented (through the first four letters of the ADKAR methodology), it is important to remember to then reinforce the change (the R). This reinforcement ensures that the change continues to be adapted and sustained throughout the organization, and includes activities such as:
- Collecting employee feedback
- Auditing compliance with the change
- Identifying areas of resistance
- Celebrating successes
Measuring the Human Factors of Change
Throughout the change management process, it is important to consider how the effects of the change will be measured, including how successful the human side of the change was. A few example metrics that can be used to measure the human factors of change include:
- Speed of Adoption: How quickly people get up and running on new systems and job roles.
- Utilization: How many employees are showing that they have “bought in” to the change.
- Proficiency: How well employees are performing at the new job role and system.
Each of these factors will also impact the financial result of the change. Without change management, the likelihood of individuals progressing in each of these areas goes down.
These examples show how much the people side of change can matter when it comes to project outcomes. If change is not properly managed, people may decrease their productivity, there may be employee turnover, or customers can be negatively impacted. All of this directly affects the financial performance of a business, which is why creating an environment where effective change management is possible can be crucial for ensuring successful projects.
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