Once you’ve hired a new change management practitioner or team member, how do you ensure they have the knowledge and ability they need to successfully facilitate change?
As Prosci Master Instructor Karen Ball pointed out in her article about the ideal change practitioner, change management skills can be learned. Every person learns at a different pace and benefits from a different type of education. Below are five of the most frequently cited approaches to change management education, taken from the Best Practices in Change Management.
Team member competency assessment guide
Before you begin training your new practitioner, use the following questions to gauge their current level of change management competency and experience:
Have you ever attended any formal change management training? If yes, with what company and how long was the training?
Have you ever been assigned to work on a change management team? If yes, what type of project and what was your role?
Have you supported the communications or training aspect of a business project? If yes, what type of work did you do?
Are you knowledgeable about any change management methodologies or approaches? If yes, describe.
These questions could be helpful when gauging anyone’s familiarity with change management, but these questions are particularly relevant to candidates hoping to join a change management team or those who have just been moved into a change management role.
Methods to Educate Your Team
Participants in the Change Management Best Practices research report used a variety of methods to educate their teams about change management. Overwhelmingly, participants favored face-to-face, interactive approaches. The most frequently cited sources for this education in rank order were:
Coaching and mentoring
Engaging external resources
1. Face-to-face training
Training gives change management teams the knowledge, skills and tools they need to implement change management on their projects. Workshops and public seminars give participants a chance to gain knowledge about how to apply change management in a setting where experts and other peers can give input and feedback.
In following adult learning best practices, Prosci conducts public trainings in change management where participants bring their change project to the course and work on building their change management plans while learning the methodology. This hands-on approach allows participants to immediately begin applying (and internalizing) what they learn in class.
2. Coaching and mentoring
Coaching will be extremely important to spread the success of your change management project. The ADKAR Model is an excellent coaching tool. You might also consider creating a formalized mentoring program that partners experienced change management leaders with mentees, allowing them to support and provide direction as needed.
Reading materials are a valuable reference for change management teams, but be sure not to rely solely on them (remember, face-to-face is the most effective form of communication). Change management articles are a great source of reading materials and handouts, but Prosci also has several books on change management, including the biannual Best Practices in Change Management research report. Change management webinars are great team launching points for change management education and discussions, as well as continuing education.
3. Engaging external resources
Hiring external resources can fill gaps in expertise and supplement full-time employee knowledge. This can be especially valuable with training; if internal resources do not have the necessary expertise, they can leverage and partner with an external resource to provide face-to-face training needed to get the team up to speed. These external resources can also provide knowledge through coaching and strategic advice.
4. Peer-to-peer networking
Networking and discussions are good ways to share success stories and to keep individuals that are being impacted by change informed on what is going on. These can be one-on-one or facilitated in a group setting. Meetings are a powerful forum for teams to get together and share their experiences, fears and concerns. The open atmosphere can be used to facilitate questions about the change and to share new information.
Participants cited two ways to use meetings: either having periodic meetings dedicated to change management or by working change management in as a regular agenda topic for normal project meetings. Several Prosci clients have seen success by implementing recurring, virtual meetings with their change agent networks or practitioner groups.
What This Means For You
Closing the knowledge and ability gap can be simple with the right resources. By assessing your team members and providing them with the right tools and atmosphere to learn and grow, you can efficiently and effectively build your change management team to manage more difficult and complex changes. For more information on Prosci’s training solutions for practitioners, visit the Prosci Training page.
Tim Creasey is Prosci’s Chief Innovation Officer and a globally recognized leader in change management. His work forms the foundation of the largest body of knowledge in the world on managing the people side of change to deliver organizational results.