Since 1994, Prosci has been listening to and engaging with clients around the world to help people embrace and adopt change. Every day our training team, program advisors and account managers respond to questions and guide change professionals to achieve their desired outcomes informed by our best practice research and client success experiences. Below are four questions we hear frequently, the context for the questions, and the answers.
Prosci’s flagship training program is the 3-Day Change Management Certification Program. Participants in this program are often new to the change management discipline or are there to become Prosci-certified change practitioners. Each participant brings a specific project they are working on in their organization and must develop a change management strategy and presentation to deliver during the course. During this experience-focused program, they learn and apply the research, models and tools in the Prosci methodology to their project in a classroom setting. But what happens when the program ends? Where do I start after completing my Prosci training program?
Get your feet wet – go do the work. Identify a single project you want to use as a ‘demonstration project.’ This may or may not be the project you brought to class. Ideally, it is a project you are engaged in or leading, and you have an opportunity early in the project lifecycle to embed change management to drive adoption and use of the change. Work through the Prosci methodology; the assessments and tools from Phase 1 – Preparing for Change like the PCT Assessment, Risk Assessment, and Group Impact analysis (all in the Impact Index). Highlight any pieces of information you don’t know and identify who in your organization you will work with to get that information. This will help you understand the ‘lay of the land’ and create the situational awareness needed for planning and customization work in Phase 2 – Managing Change.
In summary, don’t try to do everything. Find a place to get started where you feel comfortable and can demonstrate the value of change management. You’ve just taken an important step toward ‘Awareness’ and ‘Desire’ (think of the ADKAR Model) to follow a structured change management methodology on other projects and deliver what change management has to offer. Learn more with this webinar about the Prosci change management methodology.
Prosci’s best practices research is the largest body of knowledge on the subject of change management. What we know from 20 years of research is that active and visible sponsorship is the number-one indicator of change success. While the discipline of change management has changed over the last two decades, the importance of the leader’s role in change has remained constant. How do I get my primary sponsor to devote time to being active and visible?
Let’s think about the ADKAR Model again. If they are on board with the value change management brings to realizing the desired outcomes from a project or change initiative (both organizational benefits and project objectives), then focus on engaging them as an effective sponsor of the change. Treat ‘Effective Sponsorship’ as a role-based change. Connect change results to effective sponsorship (Awareness and Desire), help them understand their role (Knowledge and Ability), and help them fulfill their role (Ability and Reinforcement). Learn more with this webinar about building effective sponsors.
As you go through this process, identify a few key actions you need from them that will have the biggest impact (keep it simple). Be very specific about what you want them to do. Do lots of the heavy lifting for your sponsor by doing as much preparation as you can for them. And, make sure they get to directly experience the impact their efforts make – this will reinforce their ‘active and visible’ sponsor behavior and create an advocate you can use to influence other missing or reluctant sponsors in your organization.
Prosci’s research clearly shows the value of starting change management activities at the initiation of a project. In fact, 85% of research participants responded that project initiation is when they ‘should start change management’ versus the 40% who actually did. Starting earlier directly correlates with the percent of study participants who met or exceeded project objectives as a result. So why is it so difficult to get project managers to start change management earlier - or to do change management at all?
For many project managers, they feel change management will add time, resources, and cost to the project. They may have the perception that change management is the ‘touchy feely’ stuff. They may also feel like you are pushing your own agenda or getting in the way of meeting project deadlines or budgets. Your challenge then is to align what you care about with what they care about - successful project outcomes. When you are able to demonstrate, both through research data and practical experience, that you are working toward the same outcomes and that ‘designing, developing, and delivering’ the change with an eye toward ‘adoption and use’ at the outset will improve outcomes and drive benefits realization, then you will have their attention.
You may also need to engage your primary sponsor to work with the project manager’s manager or supervisor to embrace ‘embedding change management’ as a change to the way projects are managed. Be flexible with your project manager; take what they will give you initially until you can demonstrate value. Learn more with this webinar about integrating change management and project management.
If you are both the project manager and the change manager, you have control over timeframes but a different challenge to address. You need to wear both hats - the technical side and the people side of the change - and will be pulled in many directions at once. Constantly keep in mind why you are doing what you are doing; to support, equip, and enable people through the change process in order to deliver the desired results and outcomes. Your priorities will be clearer when you do.
Whether you are in an unreceptive environment or one that welcomes change management as a means to drive organizational improvement, your relationship with specific individuals in your organization is critical. In the context of your project, who are the organizational influencers and subject matter experts you need to connect with? Connect with the primary sponsor if possible; or work through others to engage with them. Spend time with the project manager. Create opportunities for their interests to be realized in alignment with organizational goals and objectives. Understand your communications and training options and resources. Learn how managers and supervisor competencies are built. Own your change practitioner or change leadership role as one that really matters; even if it is not your formal title.
There are common themes throughout the responses to these frequently asked questions:
Karen Ball is an energetic leader with over 30 years of experience working with organizations as a trusted partner and advisor. Her passion is to help organizations manage the people impact of change to improve adoption and drive benefits realization. She uses her unique ability to bring clarity in complex situations to optimize organizational results.