Want to know how to engage your sponsors and increase their change management awareness? This overview of change management for executives provides the what, why and how of change management. Use this information to help sponsors understand their role in change and become invested in making change management succeed.
The technical definition of change management is, "the application of processes and tools to manage the people side of change from a current state to a new future state so that the desired results of the change are achieved." But a more compelling way to define change management is:
Various studies have shown that the likelihood that projects meet or achieve their objectives is directly related to change management effectiveness. Data from Prosci’s Best Practices in Change Management report shows that initiatives with excellent change management are six times more likely to meet objectives than those with poor change management. Simply moving from “poor” to “fair” change management increases the likelihood of meeting objectives by nearly 30%.
Participants from this study also identified lack of executive support and active sponsorship as the number one obstacle to success. Lack of engagement and advocacy from senior leaders, failure to remain active and visible throughout a project, and senior leaders opting out of change as barriers to engaging the organization grew are a few of the reasons participants cited.
Conversely, active and visible sponsorship was identified as the number one contributor to successful change management since Prosci began researching change management in 1998. Helping your executives understand and support change management is critical to the overall success of your initiatives.
Applying change management can directly impact adoption and usage. Specifically, it can affect:
When change management delivers targeted levels of adoption and usage, the probability that business objectives are achieved, on time and on budget, increases. When the people side of change is poorly managed, projects fall behind schedule, fewer employees engage in the change, and proficiency levels are lower; projects deliver a lower ROI or in some cases fail completely.
The key roles in change management include:
The primary sponsor is the individual who authorizes and funds the project and is usually in control of the resources, systems and people that are affected by the change. The primary sponsor usually has the authority to determine the scope of the change and its timing. Employees want to see and hear the executive's commitment to the change. The authority they provide carries over to other change management roles.
Managers and supervisors who have employees affected by the change play a key role in helping their employees through the transition process. These managers and supervisors are the preferred sender of change messages related to how a change personally impacts employees.
Dedicated change management resources provide focus and keep track of change management activities. They act as a point of responsibility and accountability. When budgets and schedules are squeezed, change management activities (communications, sponsorship, coaching, training and resistance management) are easily pushed to the bottom of the priority list if there are no dedicated resources.
Project support functions bring expertise in a particular area and enhance the execution of change management activities by bringing the broader organizational context to the table. HR business partners, training specialists and subject matter experts are just a few examples of project support functions.
All sponsors, managers, supervisors and employees affected by the change are stakeholders. In many changes, external partners, vendors and even customers may be considered stakeholders. They all have a stake in the outcome of the change.
A holistic approach to change management on a project addresses both the organizational and individual change management processes:
Organizational change management is a process for designing and implementing change management activities that affect broad groups of employees in order to enable adoption and proficient usage. This process is built in three phases that a project or change manager can work through for the changes and initiatives they are supporting. These phases include:
Phase 1: Preparing for change
Readiness assessments, risk assessments and strategy development
Identifying and preparing change management resources
Creating the necessary sponsorship model and preparing sponsors to effectively lead the change
Phase 2: Managing the change
Phase 3: Reinforcing the change
Individual change management manages change at an individual level, with each employee.
Successful individual change involves five elements that serve as the sequential building blocks of individual change. When all five elements are present, the individual has successfully transitioned through the change. This change model is referred to as the Prosci ADKAR Model and consists of:
Organizational change management is used to enable successful individual change management. And when individuals successfully transition through the change, the organization is then able to achieve its objectives.
Enterprise change management is the structured and intentional deployment of change management across and throughout an organization. Beyond change management effectively applied on individual projects, organizations with mature change capabilities create an infrastructure to make the management of change an organizational capability and a strategic, competitive advantage. Institutionalizing change management practices, processes, capabilities and competencies makes effectively managing the people side of change a core competency and cultural value of the organization. Building an intentional and repeatable strategy for change deployment enables an agile and change-ready organization.
Change management is about enabling employees to successfully transition through the change in order to:
Need more ideas for building buy-in and getting your senior leaders to commit to change management? Click the image below to watch our on-demand webinar, "How to Enlist, Engage and Empower Your Sponsors."
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.