No team or organization is perfect.
Every once in a while, you might see an opportunity to make something better – how do you go about bringing change? In other words, how to lead and drive “Change Management?”
Firstly, why is it called “Change Management?”
Because change is not easy! Change Management will require you to be diligent, tenacious, and patient. So the change that you want to bring about would need to be managed.
I have led Change Management, using the steps listed in the figure below. I will explain each of these in detail.
The first critical step is to acknowledge that something is broken and that a change is needed to fix it. Or you must define why change is needed.
It is very common for teams to be accustomed with status quo and not wanting to change – it is natural for humans to resist change. The “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” attitude will be the greatest barrier to overcome in this step.
You will need to be persistent and make a logical case of why you think the change is needed. Metrics will be your best friend to substantiate the need for a change.
Many fail in this step because even if they’d have a valid point about why the change is needed, they would fail to convince the team that a change is warranted. If you get past this step, consider 50% of the work complete!
Here is where you have to craft a solution for the problem that you’ve identified. You have to exhibit strategic vision here. If you present a solution that is much more complex than the problem, you will never be able to convince the team to embrace it.
What I have done in the past is to collaborate with the team and seek ideas. That really empowers the team members and they feel part of the solution. You will need to do this sincerely and not merely for the sake of selling your proposal for change.
Now that you have buy-in on both the problem statement and the solution, you have to prepare for implementation. Here’s what you do at a high-level:
- Identify the roles and responsibilities
- Estimate the timeline for implementation
- Identify risks and mitigation strategies
- Determine the success criteria
The last point is perhaps the most critical item in this list. Just like in any product or program launch, you ought to know how to measure success and if your endeavor was worth the effort.
This is when you actually make the change happen. All of your planning and preparation will come to fruition. Communication is vital in this step; you should let the stakeholders know before and after the change has been implemented.
In certain cases, the team that will be directly impacted by the change, should be given training, so that the transition is seamless.
An employee was once asked by her manager, “How do you know if you’re doing a good job?”, she replied, “When you give me more work!” He laughed and said, “Touche! But you need to measure.” This is true of any implementation.
The success criteria that you listed in preparation of the change will be your baseline. A seasoned Program Manager will have established a tangible, realistic success metric and drive the team towards achieving it.
It is possible that you completely underestimated (or overestimated) your success criteria early on. If that is the case, you will need to analyze why your estimate was different and what factors led to the variance.
Once you have successfully implemented a phase of change, you will need to see how you can continuously improve. Depending on how small or large you intend to refine, you may need to revisit all of the earlier steps from “Plan” to all the way down. But then again, this will be on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes, when doing minor adjustments you will not have a way to measure.
Those are the six steps. Remember, when you want to go ahead with a change, it is always better to start with a reasonable and practical target and gradually refine it. If there is a wholesale change to any process, the team might get overwhelmed.
Do let me know the techniques and strategies you have used to implement change in your organization. What led you to success? What were the challenges you faced? ♦