Build Support for Effective Change Management

Use Preparation and Planning to Build Support for Change

Hospital management listening to doctor

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Just as you ready your garden for spring planting, an organization adapts to change most successfully when the ground is well prepared in advance. Respondents about change management success, over the years, have spoken about creating a trusting and trustworthy environment in advance of the change.

Successful change management practitioners spoke about change working best in organizations that traditionally value each employee and respect their potential contribution. You described change management and change as easier in organizations that have a norm of frequent, honest communication.

You can most successfully manage change in your organization when you have carefully involved all of those employees who will need to implement the changes in planning the changes.

You have also said that change is easier when there is widespread agreement, in the organization, about the need to change. To build this agreement about change and institute effective change management, do the following.

Build Support for Needed Organizational Changes

Provide as much information as possible, to as many employees as possible, about the business. Share financial information, customer feedback, employee satisfaction survey results, industry projections and challenges, and data from processes you measure.

Assuming decisions about needed change are made based on relevant data, an informed workforce will understand and agree with the need for change. (They may not agree on the how and/or what, but you are miles ahead if you have agreement on the why and the whether.)

Create an urgency around the need to change. Project, for your workforce, what will happen if you don’t make the needed changes. Communicate this information honestly and use data whenever it is available. You do have compelling reasons for making the changes. Right?

Spend extra time and energy working with your front line supervisory staff and line managers to ensure that they understand, can communicate about, and support the changes. Their action and communication are critical in molding the opinion of the rest of your workforce.

They are also the employees who can create the most resistance, first from their actions and beliefs, and then from the employees who report to them. I cannot emphasize enough the need for this group to support your plans for change.

A few years ago, a client and I spoke at a regional conference of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). In the questions that followed our presentation, we were asked what we would have done differently as we implemented work teams in his company.

My client replied that his biggest mistake was not to fire the mid-level managers who resisted the change earlier. He had given them almost 18 months, and this kindness had undermined the changed for quite awhile.

Align all organizational systems to support needed changes. These include the performance management system, rewards and recognition, disciplinary approaches, compensation, promotions, and hiring. A consistency across all Human Resources systems will support faster change.

Align the informal structures and networks in your organization with the desired changes. If you can tap into the informal communication and political network, you will increase change commitment.

(As an example, eat lunch in the lunchroom and discuss the changes informally. Spend extra time communicating the positive aspects of the change to people you know are “key communicators” in your organization.)

Help employees feel as if they are involved in a change management process that is larger than themselves by taking these actions to involve employees in change management effectively.