5 steps for implementing change management in your organization

5 steps for implementing change management in your organization

Change is inevitable in an organization; especially in the age of digital transformation and emerging technologies, businesses and employees need to adapt. Change management (CM) is a methodology that ensures both leaders and employees are equipped and supported when implementing changes to an organization.

The goal of a change management plan, or more accurately an organizational change plan, is to embed processes that have stakeholder buy-in and support the success of both the business and the people involved. In practice, the most important aspect of organizational change is stakeholder alignment. This blog outlines five steps to support the seamless integration of organizational change management.

Steps to support organizational change management

1.      Determine your audience

Who is impacted by the proposed change? It is crucial to determine the audience for your change management process.

Start by identifying key leaders­ and determine both their influence and involvement in the history of organizational change. Your key leaders can provide helpful context and influence employee buy-in. You want to interview leaders to better understand ‘why’ the change is being implemented in the first place. Ask questions such as:

  • What are the benefits of this change?
  • What are the reasons for this change?
  • What does the history of change in the organization look like?

Next, identify the other groups impacted by change, otherwise known as the personas. Personas are the drivers of successful implementation of a change management strategy. It is important to understand what the current day-to-day looks like for the persona, and then what tomorrow will look like once change is implemented.

A good example of change that an organization might implement is a new technology, like generative AI (Gen AI). Businesses are implementing this technology to augment work and make their processes more efficient. Throughout this blog, we use this example to better explain each step of implementing change management.

Who is impacted by the implementation of gen AI? The key leaders might be the vice president of the department that is adding the technology, along with a Chief Technical Officer, and team managers. The personas are those whose work is being augmented by the technology.

2.      Align the key stakeholders

What are the messages that we will deliver to the personas? When key leaders come together to determine champion roles and behaviors for instituting change, it is important to remember that everyone will have a different perspective.

To best align leadership, take an iterative approach. Through a stakeholder alignment session, teams can co-create with key leaders, change management professionals, and personas to best determine a change management strategy that will support the business and employees.

Think back to the example of gen AI as the change implemented in the organization. Proper alignment of stakeholders would be bringing together the executives deciding to implement the technology, the technical experts on gen AI, the team managers implementing gen AI into their workflows, and even trusted personas—the personas might have experienced past changes in the organization.

3.      Define the initiatives and scope

Why are you implementing the change? What are the main drivers of change? How large is the change to the current structure of the organization? Without a clear vision for change initiatives, there will be even more confusion from stakeholders. The scope of change should be easily communicated; it needs to make sense to your personas to earn their buy-in.

Generative AI augments workflows, making businesses more efficient. However, one obstacle of this technology is the psychological aspect that it takes power away from individuals who are running the administrative tasks. Clearly defining the benefits of gen AI and the goals of implementing the technology can help employees better understand the need.

Along with clear initiatives and communication, including a plan to skill employees to understand and use the technology as part of their scope also helps promote buy-in. Drive home the point that the change team members, through the stakeholders, become evangelists pioneering a new way of working. Show your personas how to prompt the tool, apply the technology, and other use cases to grow their excitement and support of the change.

4.      Implement the change management plan

After much preparation on understanding the personas, aligning the stakeholders and defining the scope, it is time to run. ‘Go live’ with the change management plan and remember to be patient with employees and have clear communication. How are employees handling the process? Are there more resources needed? This is the part where you highly consider the feedback that is given and assess if it helps achieve the shared goals of the organization.

Implementing any new technology invites the potential for bugs, lags or errors in usage. For our example with gen AI, a good implementation practice might be piloting the technology with a small team of expert users, who underwent training on the tool. After collecting feedback from their ‘go live’ date, the change management team can continue to phase the technology implementation across the organization. Remember to be mindful of employee feedback and keep an open line of communication.

5.      Adapt to improve

Adapting the process is something that can be done throughout any stage of implementation but allocating time to analyze the Return on Investment (ROI) should be done at the ‘go live’ date of change. Reviewing can be run via the “sense and respond” approach.

Sense how the personas are reacting to said change. This can be done via sentiment analysis, surveys and information sessions. Then, analyze the data. Finally, based on the analysis, appropriately respond to the persona’s reaction.

Depending on how the business and personas are responding to change, determine whether the outlined vision and benefits of the change are being achieved. If not, identify the gaps and troubleshoot how to better support where you might be missing the mark. It is important to both communicate with the stakeholders and listen to the feedback from the personas.

To close out our example, gen AI is a tool that thrives on continuous usage and practices like fine-tuning. The organization can both measure the growth and success of the technology implemented, as well as the efficiency of the personas that have adapted the tool into their workflows. Leaders can share out surveys to pressure test how the change is resonating. Any roadblocks, pain points or concerns should be responded to directly by the change management team, to continue to ensure a smooth implementation of gen AI.

How to ensure success when implementing organizational change                          

The success formula to implementing organizational change management includes the next generation of leadership, an accelerator culture that is adaptive to change, and a workforce that is both inspired and engaged.

Understanding the people involved in the process is important to prepare for a successful approach to change management. Everyone comes to the table with their own view of how to implement change. It is important to remain aligned on why the change is happening. The people are the drivers of change. Keep clear, open and consistent communication with your stakeholders and empathize with your personas to ensure that the change will resonate with their needs.

As you craft your change management plan, remember that change does not stop at the implementation date of the plan. It is crucial to continue to sense and respond.

Learn more about change management for talent

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