This series discusses the steps you can take to create change management competency into your organization. Module 1 answers the question, "what is change competency?". Module 2 presents the skills, behaviors and preparation of a change-competent executive. Module 3 examines how managers support a change competent organization. Module 4 provides ways to empower front-line employees in a change-competent organization. This module concludes the tutorial and provides tips and resources for building a change-ready organization.
Based on the new book, Change Management: the people side of change
Change competency requires a cultural and skill shift from all levels of the organization: front-line employees, managers and executives. As a project leader or change management leader, your job is to provide the "maps" for each group so they can make this shift. From Module 1 in this series, project leaders and teams in a change-competent organization:
“can support sponsors, managers and front-line employees through the change process with tools, processes and techniques to manage change”
An individual or group that is building change competency must follow the process shown in the figure above including:
Create awareness and desire for change competency
Change competency should be given the same support as any major strategic initiative. The sponsor or sponsors that are supporting the initiative play a key role in sharing the goal and ensuring support from all levels. Like other strategic initiatives, change competency will show a significant ROI based on the increase in productivity and the elimination of wasted time and resources. An organization that faces constant change will improve its responsiveness to the market and to customers.
The goal of becoming "change-able" must filter through all levels of the organization - from the executive leadership to managers and supervisors to front-line employees. Refer to modules 2, 3 and 4 of this series for descriptions of what change competency looks like at each of these levels:
Build knowledge and ability to manage change
There are a variety of tools available for your organization when building change competency. First, a change management methodology should be employed at the beginning of each and every new change project. Effective change management is scaled to the change. In other words, this does not mean that you need to build large, cumbersome requirements - change management for a small project may be as simple as several communications and a follow up phone call. Utilize a change management methodology that is based on best practices research with many companies.
Don't reinvent the wheel - learn from others and avoid their mistakes. Best practices benchmarking in change management shows the key steps to take, the biggest obstacles and the most important contributors to success. Utilize the lessons from others to shorten your learning curve and build support in your organization.
Being an effective sponsor is more than just attaching a name to a project. However, many sponsors do not understand what it means to be a "sponsor of change." Provide sponsors with a roadmap and activities that they can do to support individual changes, as well as the move toward change competency.
Finally, provide individuals with a model or method for understanding what changes are taking place and how to personally navigate the change. A poor assumption is that there is nothing you can do when change is happening. Active and vigilant employees who understand the phases of change and how they can thrive during change will greatly improve your organization's ability to adapt and become change-competent.
Apply change management to each new project
Change competency does not happen over night. It is a learning process, and the best way to start the learning process is to begin using effective change management on each new project. Change management is much more effective when used at the beginning of a project than when used to "put out fires" after an implementation has already faced significant resistance. One of the key reasons for building change competency is to ensure that each project uses change management from its initiation.
The first step is providing a change management model that can be used on every new project that is initiated. Like good project management skills, change management should be used from the very beginning. The Prosci Change Management Model is based on research over the past seven years with over 1000 organizations. The model has three phases: Preparing for change, Managing change and Reinforcing change. The model has scaling and assessments built in so that the change management plan reflects the change situation - both the size and type of change as well as the attributes of the organization that is being changed. Different projects require different amounts of project management, and will also require different amounts of change management. By providing a structure for managing specific changes, you will begin the process of developing change competency.
Assess effectiveness of executives, managers and employees in managing change
Take the time to assess how things are going. Give feedback quickly and take corrective action. Don't wait until the next change to coach an executive, manager or employee. Find out from supervisors how their employees are doing and what competencies need further development. Each person will develop change competency at their own pace. Coach, Coach, Coach. Use this opportunity to provide more training and education to your organization.
Reinforce and reward change competency
Don't miss the opportunity to reward change competent managers and employees. Reinforcing and celebrating change competency will result in two benefits: the managers and employees who are doing well will continue to do well, and managers and employees who need additional knowledge and ability will see this as a desired behavior that is recognized and rewarded by your company.
Building change competency takes time
Change is a process and moving to a change-competent organization will take time. It is important to realize that you will need to apply change management techniques to this change as well. You will need to recognize where you are today, where you want to be in the future, and what it will take to make that transition. Change management is a required capability for developing change competency.
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.