Top Change Management Principles Every Company Should Know
Change… over the past few years, it seems to be especially constant, both in life and business. Despite all of its downfalls, COVID-19 served as a catalyst for organizational disruption and accelerated the need to manage those changes to ensure operations continued and with little downtime.
Now well past the pandemic’s peak, organizations continue to change— whether adopting hybrid work models, getting teams back into the office full-time, or implementing new technologies, there is no shortage of adapting to the ‘new.’ Yet even after several years of change, many organizations still fail to manage it successfully. In fact, 60-70% of all change initiatives taken up by organizations fail.
From employee resistance to poor change sponsorship and leadership, there are numerous reasons organizations fail to change. But the number one reason tends to be the organization simply doesn’t follow fundamental and completely necessary change management principles. Below, Kenway is sharing our most-proven strategies for ensuring change is embraced by your organization.
What Are Change Management Principles & Why Are They Important?
First and foremost, change management principles are defined as the guiding pillars business leaders use to manage transformations within an organization. In following these principles, your organization can successfully build a strategy that can support your employees and their success throughout each phase of change.
The numbers don’t lie. An organization following change management principles outperforms those that don’t. McKinsey research indicates that change results in a 143% ROI when organizations have an effective change management program. This is because employees are clear on why the change is happening and what their role is in the transition. Furthermore, 81% of projects implementing effective change management practices deliver within budget while the ones that don’t, show a negative fiscal impact.
What these statistics tell us is that having a plan for the management of change is important because it directly impacts your bottom line. And organizations that include change management early in their initiatives benefit the most.
Top 5 Change Management Principles for Success
Here at Kenway Consulting, we’ve been helping organizations lead digital transformation and change management for nearly two decades. In that time, we’ve found the most successful way to manage change is through a structured approach that leverages people, processes and technology to ensure what is changing is embraced and understood by everyone impacted to maximize benefits and deliver ongoing success.
1. Complete a Risk Assessment in the Planning Phase
Understanding how change may benefit your organization is important. But what’s equally important is evaluating the potential risk your organization is taking should the change program fail. Consider conducting a risk assessment across both a project level and organizational level and make a plan for every possible outcome.
Some common risks involved in change management include:
- Poor communication leading to lack of awareness to support the change
- Lack of sponsorship / leadership support
- Lack of mid-level management support
- Budgeting risk
- Inadequate skill sets and resources to support change
- Lack of structural governance
- End-user resistance and lack of adoption
2. Plan Out Your Change Strategy
The next principal is to evaluate your organization’s readiness for the change and create an overall Change Management Strategy that serves to communicate your overall approach to implementing the change as well as ensuring its success. A vision for the future should be well-defined that includes the organization’s high-level goals as well as the success criteria for the proposed change or changes.
You will want to conduct a thorough impact analysis, identifying the individuals and groups (both internal and external to the organization) that will be impacted by the change and how they will be impacted.
For the impact analysis, you will want to:
- Consider the current state vs. future state – how big is the change?
- Understand the type of change – is it processes, technology or a mix?
- Identify resistors to the change (detractors)
It is also important to identify ‘change agents’ – the individuals that can influence and support the change.
3. Develop Detailed Communication and Training Plans
Focusing on the individual is critical to the success of your change management strategy. This leads to the next important principle which is to develop communication and training plans.
The training plan should define the training audience, what they need to be successful and what it will take to get them there.
The communication plan should clearly outline the audience, what they need to know, how the information will be delivered and when.
When developing these plans, consider the unique needs of each group that will be impacted by the change. How will this change impact their day-to-today? From there, customize your messaging for each group so you can clearly communicate the benefits of the change at hand and how it will affect their roles and responsibilities.
4. Ensure Teams Are Set Up For Success
Next, it’s important to ensure that every audience is prepared and has the tools and resources they need to succeed at the time of roll-out. It’s time to execute on the plans that you created. Periodically survey impacted individuals and make any necessary adjustments based on their feedback.
Doing so will send the message that their input is important to the organization – helping to steer change success.
5. Develop a Sustainment Plan
Lastly, it’s important to reflect on the lessons learned throughout your change management process. Just because these steps are completed doesn’t mean your change process has come to a close – optimizing your processes and making improvements should be a never-ending goal for your organization.
By continuing to support those affected by the change, you can help ensure successful adoption.
With that being said, establish how the change of success will be measured and enforced moving forward.
Conclusion: The Benefits of Following Change Management Principles
When it comes to change management, hiring a consultant with specialties to fit your company’s unique needs could be the differentiating factor between achieving transformation success or not. As mentioned, Kenway has been utilizing these change management principles to empower our clients with long-term success for years. And in following these steps we’ve seen our clients benefit from:
- New programs being introduced synergistically
- Stakeholders accepting and utilize change
- Communications programs built for adoption and lack of resistance
- Controlled transitions with minimal disruption to day-to-day business operations
- Protection and retention of top talent
- Avoidance of employee burnout and productivity loss
If you’re implementing a new process or making a significant investment that will change the way your teams are currently operating, following these change management principles will help your organization better succeed.
If your organization needs help orchestrating the “public relations” that ensures adoption and change success, Kenway can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.