Communication and Involvement

Change Management 101

POSTED BY JAMES OHANA, Thursday, January 18, 2018

Staff input and adoption can make or break your next big project. Five key change management takeaways to consider for your next endeavor.

1. Everybody Loves Change…Right?

Technology moves at a breakneck pace, and some assume that the constant change around us means we are comfortable when changing tools and processes within our own work space.

This is not the case.

Most people do not adapt immediately to change and many will resist it if it's not introduced properly. Having a change management plan as part of the overall strategy is critical for the success of any large-scale project.

More Than Just Knowing, People Need to Understand

When making a large-scale change to a team’s work environment, whether it's introducing new tools, workflows or shifting roles and responsibilities, it is critical that management communicates the goals of the project to their staff down to the individual level. Employees need to know how the change will affect their job. You need to answer questions such as “How will this change enhance my day to day work? What new responsibilities will I be taking on? Are there new goals in which my performance will be reviewed against? How will this help the company as a whole?”

Proactively communicating change, whether it is through internal marketing with videos and presentations, to ongoing training and coaching workshops, supports large-scale change more organically and removes the fear of the unknown. It also makes the staff more agile and able to adapt to the ebb and flow of emerging technology that impacts their day-to-day job.

2. You Need Buy-In and Involvement or There is a Good Chance It’s Not Going to End Well

Organizations should never have a homogeneous group in charge of the selection, design and implementation of large-scale projects. Change of scale needs diversity and buy-in from all aspects of the operation to succeed.

Rolling out a new platform and workflow where only a core group of staff are involved in the design, testing and acceptance, is one of the worst change management failures. When the majority of users are not consulted about the solution until after implementation, it is likely to be unanimously rejected by the majority of the staff. In such situations, entire projects are often abandoned and wasted.

Make sure you have a diverse cross section of end users (content creatives, producers, and editorial staff) are involved in the due diligence process and the early stages of the project design phase. By not having them involved, you are at risk of encountering last minute surprises such as staff taking much longer to adapt to the new system/role or lack of features that would’ve been helpful to complete one’s job.

So, involve staff who will eventually use the system. Know that these are important stakeholders who can help ensure the company has made the right decisions and the transition to your new work infrastructure is set up for success.

3. Promote Your Change Agents/Champions

Large-scale changes can also offer an opportunity to invigorate or reinvigorate the staff. Promoting valued people to lead delivery of a new in-house project gives recognition and often incentive to see the project through with maximum success. Management often overlooks this opportunity as they are focused on the technology goals, the scope and the project overall. It is the dedication and commitment of your people that will make or break a large-scale project.

4. Be Realistic…Really

Setting unrealistic goals at the beginning of a given project and underestimating the constraints and challenges that will arise during the journey eventually affects the outcome of the project and not in a good way. Yes, technology can accelerate workflows and deliveries, but it cannot replace the decision-making process required for transformational change and the time required to make these important “think steps” to ensure the right outcome.

And while it seems logical, make sure there are committed resources to the project. With most large-scale projects, companies need to continue their business as usual while simultaneously changing the operation. This is not achievable relying on the same staff to drive both initiatives. In media and entertainment, the primary commitment is to make sure the content is delivered to the audiences as scheduled. Everything else is secondary. A large-scale or transformational project needs dedication. A way to balance this is by hiring contractors and consultants who will take on part of the project or help the existing staff with their responsibilities as changes are implemented.

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