Below there are some tools I have used in the past to assist in understanding the situations I have been faced with and that have helped me to develop and implement the change plan.
The outcome from this allowed me to put the change into perspective, answer the “why” and “what’s in it for me” questions and provide a clearer picture of the future for those who will be affected by the change.
These tools also help share a common understanding of the change within the change team and the wider organisation.
Description: A checklist to cover the resources you need to consider in making changes. What do you need to support the change project and what resources are required in the new, post change operation?
- People: Right amount, right skills, right attitude (Ready, Willing and Able)
- Information: IT requirements, communication methods
- Finance: Cost of the project, initial investment and running costs of the new operation, cost benefit analysis, return on investment calculations
- Operations: process maps, procedures, work instructions, dependencies and links with other sections
- Accommodation: (is there enough space?)
When to use: In the early stages of the change process.
Description: This is good way of defining the change and can also be used to evaluate any solutions that are being put forward. It has been my experience that change teams want to dive into "action mode" without due consideration of how the change fits in with the wider perspective and the likely impacts on key groups.
Beware the quick fix, often it merely moves the problem on to another part of the system.
This technique acts as a checklist and helps identify who the “winners and losers” are in the change scenario.
- Values/Vision: Does the proposed change fit with the culture of the organisation or the values of the particular team that the change has an impact on? What's the strategic vision of the future and therefore how will the solution/proposed change fit with this? What problem will be solved by this change/what opportunity will the change help us to take?
- Ownership: What or who is driving this change? Is it external factors, e.g. customer demand, the shareholders, a specific government department, Regulators? Internally who is the Sponsor?
Knowledge of this aspect of the change will help ascertain the amount of freedom there is to influence the change. It will also help to flush out any “politics” ie there may be a very high level of resistance to a change from certain individuals or sections, e.g. “ the sales/production/finance section is empire building again!”
- Customers: Who are the main beneficiaries of the change, ie the perceived winners? Increased influence, status, bigger budget, increased staff numbers etc.
- Actors: Who will the change impact on in a negative way, ie “losers” when compared to the above?
- Transition: The practical aspects of making the change happen must be recognised. What resources will be needed to make the change happen? There is also the personal transition that the Customers and Actors must make in coming to terms with the ending of what they are familiar with and the beginning of the new. The Bridges Transition Model is a good way to gain an insight into this aspect.
- Environment: What is the context in which this change is being made, is the change seen a s positive or negative, taking an opportunity or a last ditch attempt to stave off a threat? Is it a small change within a much larger organisational development project? Answers to these questions will influence how the change is communicated and “sold”.
When to use: In the early stages of the change process, eg when carrying out an impact assessment. It also helps when evaluating potential solutions and deciding on the best way to manage the change. It also helps to ensure that there is integration between the change proposed and the wider organisational context, ie it fits and it is not a duplicate of the work of another change team.
Linked Issue: Considering Fairness when Designing your Change Plan
The Wider Impact of Change: Communication with Stakeholders
It may be worth recognising that change will impact on staff (internal and external associates) and that there may be a "ripple effect", ie an impact on other stakeholders in the company.
The communication of the change will be different for each group as they will be impacted in different ways from the company's employees.
Here's a list (from management guru Peter Drucker) that you may find useful:
1. Customers. Peter Drucker defined the purpose of a company as this; to create customers. Without customers the company cannot survive so in almost all situations the customer's needs have to come first. The customer can always choose to take his business to a competitor so it is essential that we continue to innovate, to offer good products and good value for money.
2. Employees. The employees are the ones who create and deliver the products or services that the customers consume. If we lose or antagonise our best employees then customer service will suffer so we need to look after them. If we want to attract and retain top talent at all levels then we have to offer terms and conditions that are attractive.
3. Shareholders. The shareholders own the company. They might well have put forward the seed capital which we need to get started so their needs are important. Ultimately the board, acting on behalf of the shareholders, can replace the CEO and the executive team. However, provided we are broadly on plan in terms of revenues and profit the shareholders are generally satisfied and will leave us alone. They will only take action when things are going badly wrong so we do not need to always act to please them.
4. Suppliers, distributors and other business partners. We need to collaborate with our partners to run the business. Many have essential skills that we lack. It is best to build good long-term relationships. However, the partners also have their own agendas and most can be replaced if they under-perform or a better partner appears.
5. The local community. We want to be a good citizen with healthy links to the local community. We want to be seen as a responsible employer who is providing a good place to work. This is important but is clearly a lower priority than those above.
6. National Government and regulatory authorities. These are less important stakeholders but we want to keep on the right side of them. We want to be compliant with regulations and avoid disputes and prosecutions.
When to use: In the early stages of the change process, eg when carrying out an impact assessment.
Personal Transition: How BIG is the change for me?
Individuals whose role or tasks will be affected as a result of the changes that are being made will normally have three key questions.
1. Why is this change being made?
2. What's in it for me?
3. Am I confident I can develop the new skills, knowledge, behaviours needed to succeed in the new scenario?
One useful way to describe the personal impact of the change to individuals is to help them understand the degree of change that they will be faced with.
A good way of doing this is to express it in as clear and as straightforward a way as possible. A useful approach in the past has been to address the following, either in one-to-one meetings or in a team setting.
In the future what will I have to...
- Stop doing?
- Start doing?
- Keep doing?
In a lot of cases this helps to quantify how much will stay the same and helps to show the level of stability when staff fear significant changes to their own roles.
It is important to recognise that change is stressful and that individuals, (be they a project manager, project team member or a member of the team/Department that will be impacted by the change) will need some reassurance.
When to use: As you develop the communication plan.
Personal Transition: Influence and Persuasion
An interesting insight into individuals' hearts and minds and how logic and facts do not always persuade people to change.
Personal Transition: Training Cycle
Ideally everyone in the team or organisation who will be affected by the change will have an individual training plan. This starts off with an Training Needs Analysis (TNA) and moves through the design, delivery and evaluation of the training. An overview can be found here
NB what is missing from the model is the assessment of the individual's post training performance, ie can they demonstrate what knowledge they have acquired or the practical skills they have developed? How competent are they to take on the new ways of working?
When to use: As you develop the training plan and as part of the communications plan identifying the guidance and support that will be available for staff during and after the change process.
Reinforcing the "New Way of Doing Things"
Employees will alter their mindset only if they see the point of the change and agree with it—at least enough to give it a try. The surrounding structures (reward and recognition systems, for example) must be in tune with the new way of doing things.
Employees must have the skills to do what it requires. Finally, they must see people they respect modelling it actively (eg Change Champions). Each of these conditions is realised independently; together they add up to a way of changing the behaviour of people in organisations by changing attitudes about what can and should happen at work.
When to use: After the change has been implemented, promoting the benefits of the change and reinforcing/"refreezing" the new business as usual.
Measuring readiness for change
Description: This is a straightforward way of organising your thinking to ensure that any shortcomings are identified and addressed early in the planning process.
It can be changed to be more specific to your needs, however, the list below and the spreadsheet should be a good starting point.
1. Company characteristic checklist
- Stability Internal:
culture two distinct and opposite cultures?
structure (merged organisation?)
product range, services offered
other change initiatives running now?
- Stability External:
Competitor activity and new entrants
Top team champion – characteristics of…
- Staff: Ready, Willing and Able ?
- Staff time available
- Knowledgeable and experienced staff (ie they understand the current way of doing things and how they will be done after the change is made PLUS they have managed change projects before)
- Established procedures and processes
- Good quality of information readily accessible
- Staff readiness to change (answers to why we need to change and what’s in it for me?)
- Realistic identification of where we are in relation to where we want to be (see checklist)
- Financial stability
2. Solution/Goal Characteristics checklist
- Clear objectives (purpose/vision statement and any pictorial metaphors)
- Realistic goals and best solutions
- Conservative goals
- Ability to test the solution and pilot. Introduce incrementally if possible (parallel running)
- Easily understood future state, clear word picture of where we are heading
- Tried and tested technology, new system
3. Project characteristics checklist
- Good links to outside help
- Get buy in and involvement . Involve all relevant staff in the diagnosis, design phases
- Set up project management structure (eg. Prince2) steering group, admin support, project planning software, roles and responsibilities
- Use a risk register and allocate likelihood and impact scores.
- Ensure testing is covered in the planning
- Adequate budget available
When to use: Before taking on any change initiatives.
Introducing the New way
Big Bang: At a certain point in time the old way stops and the new way starts. It is imperative that as much testing has been done prior to “D day” as possible. It is also important to have carried out a thorough risk assessment and to have robust contingency plans in place should you need to use them.
If all goes well this can be thought of as a low cost method of introduction
Pilot project: A small-scale experiment to ascertain how the new system will work in practice. Any problems can be identified and addressed in the pilot phase before the roll out, thus saving costs and time. To ensure that the scaling up is successful it is important that the pilot represents the norm, ie there is nothing special about the office, branch, production line that would skew the findings.
Parallel Running: This carries a low risk as both the old and the new are running together for a pre-set period. Once the new system has established itself the old can be turned off. This is however an expensive option.
When to use: In the early stages of the change process, when planning the introductory phase of the change.
Regret, Reason, Remedy (or don’t let a good crisis go to waste)
In many change projects things don’t always go according to plan. One sure way to reduce your credibility is to try to put “a positive spin” on situations that are clearly not going according to plan. One of the best ways to handle these situations is to be honest and transparent about them.
One way to do this is by adopting the Regret, Reason, Remedy approach.
Regret: Do not be scared to say you are sorry! It is amazing how this changes to resulting conversation, especially when the complainant(s) are ready for a good argument. However, this needs to be genuinely felt by you and the leaders of the change project. Not lip service
Reason: Again honesty needs to be to the fore. Let people know what the failings were that led to this situation arising, eg we didn’t recognise this risk; we didn’t take the correct action to deal with an issue etc. However, DO NOT apportion blame to individuals and/or team. Naming and shaming does not work well if you are hoping to deliver the rest of the project successfully.
Remedy: “It’s our problem and we will sort it out”. NB although the project team will be taking ownership for fixing the problem, it should be borne in mind that they should involve the relevant individuals and teams in the wider organisation as they work towards the solution.
Taking ownership for solving the problem and getting the project back on track usually results in the bond between the Project Team and the wider organisation becoming stronger.
This approach has been taken on by a range of organisations, for more information see link
When to use: On an on going basis throughout the change process and beyond.
People - Are they Ready, Willing and Able?
An obvious Key Success Factor in any change management project is the people who are involved. The Sponsor, Project Lead and members of the Project Team need to be Ready, Willing and Able to make effective contributions in their roles.
There are many competence and skills frameworks that go into great detail in terms of what makes people effective in team working, however, a quick and simple rule of thumb that has helped me in the past is to ask these simple questions grouped around these three headings:
Ready: This is as much about the support and resources the people will have access to as much as what they will bring to the team. Have they been provided with the right IT hardware and software? Have they been given access to the right training resources? Have they been assigned time off their day job in order to contribute to the work of the team?
What they bring is normally viewed as their experience of working in a team, operational knowledge and understanding, credibility amongst their colleagues etc.
Willing: What is motivating the individual to become engaged in the work of the change project team? It may be to broaden their experience in order to gain visibility across the wider organisation, to enhance their marketability when promotions are advertised, to make sure they have a voice in steering the direction and outcome of the project etc.
It is extremely important for the team leader to gain an insight into the genuine motives for the individual’s desire to be part of the team.
Able: This is where skills frameworks can be useful in terms of getting an objective assessment of a person’s skills and competencies and help you as team leader to make an informed decision about taking the person on as part of your team.
How do they rate in terms of team working in general, operational teams? How do they rate in terms of working within a project team environment?
An understanding of the “Belbin Roles” is a useful starting point if this is new to you:
It may also be beneficial to gain an understanding of the way teams evolve as they move through the project and get to know each other better. The concept of “storming, forming, norming and performing" is useful.
Not sure who said it but in my experience I have found this to be very true
"90% of problems are people problems and 90% of people problems are communication problems "
An effective and simple way to start developing the communication plan is to use the following matrix
NB under the heading of Methods think carefully about who the message is coming from. There is a concept in sales and marketing called "source credibility" which emphasises the fact that the messenger is important as well as the message. Messages do not necessarily need to come from senior staff or the change project manager, ideally they should come from an influential figure in the peer group, e.g. someone who is a respected member of the team that is being impacted by the change.
Working in a Project Team
You may benefit, as a leader of the project team or as a member of the team, from an awareness and understanding of the roles within a team. The 'Belbin roles' are a good starting point in recognising that in addition to having a technical role on the team, eg 'I'm the rep from Accounts', 'I'm representing HR' etc, there are specific roles within the team that should be filled to give balance and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the team.
More details here