Change management's purpose is clear - to ensure that changes deliver intended results and outcomes by addressing one of the most critical elements of successful change, the people side of change.
Employee adoption is the bridge between having a great solution and getting desired results. In practice, change management plays out on several different levels within the organization. To provide clarity on how change management is practiced within organizations, this article addresses the integration of change management at the project level and the individual level.
When examining the purpose of change management at the project level, there are specific strategies, plans, actions and steps to execute in conjunction with project management. These activities are what make up project-level change management (also called organizational change management). The primary objective for managing change at the project level is to make sure that organizational change produces the expected results by ensuring that individuals adopt the new way of doing things. Results and outcomes ultimately depend on employees embracing, adopting and using the change. A change management methodology that integrates the project-level activities with the individual-level outcomes ensures that individuals adopt change, and therefore organizational outcomes are achieved.
Project-level change management encompasses the activities required to make the change a success. Individual-level change management is outcome-oriented, describing what an individual needs to achieve to successfully and sustainably change. It is important to address both the project level (activities required) and individual level (outcomes desired) in your change plan. The Prosci Methodology is an integrated approach, combining processes that target both project-level activities and individual-level outcomes.
Prosci's 3-Phase Change Management Process includes:
Phase 1 - Preparing for change - This phase involves action items such as conducting readiness assessments, developing risk analyses, identifying anticipated resistance, and preparing the change management team.
Phase 2 - Managing change - This phase includes creating specific plans to support employees through change, namely a communications plan, sponsor roadmap, coaching plan, training plan and resistance management plan (read more about these "Five Levers of Change Management").
Phase 3 - Reinforcing change - The final phase involves collecting feedback, listening to employees, auditing compliance, identifying gaps, and other targeted action steps.
From a high-level view, the 3-Phase Process clearly addresses the activity-side of change management. These are actions taken by project or change management teams during the course of a project. But, even with detailed activities, the question remains - what are we trying to accomplish? We need to incorporate the individual perspective to answer this question.
The goal of project-level change management activities is to ensure that employees embrace, adopt, and use the change. The individual's needs during change provide the goals for the project-level activities. In this way, the methodology achieves an outcome orientation.
Below are several examples of the "actions required" at the project level and the "outcomes desired" at the individual level.
Actions Required: Conduct readiness assessments.
Outcomes Desired: You need to know how many individuals are going to be impacted by the change and how much change they are currently processing, which will inform the details of your change management strategy.
Actions Required: Identify anticipated resistance based on the specifics of the change.
Outcomes Desired: You need to build awareness of the need for change and desire to participate and support the change, tailored to anticipated resistance.
Actions Required: Create the coaching plan.
Outcomes Desired: Managers and supervisors play an important role in change because they are closest to the individual employees that are impacted. They have influence over their employees' desire to participate and support the change. The coaching plan identifies tactics to engage and prepare managers and supervisors to lead the change with their employees at the individual level.
Actions Required: Create the communication plan.
Outcomes Desired: An effective communication plan incorporates the individual-level perspective and answers the most pressing questions employees have at the right time during the project lifecycle so they can understand how the change will impact them and progress them through their own change processes.
Actions Required: Collect and analyze feedback.
Outcomes Desired: By collecting and analyzing feedback, we can make sure that the change is achieved and sustained at the individual level. This allows you to identify if employees are resorting to an old way of doing things or are not using a new process correctly. By collecting and analyzing feedback from individuals, gaps can be identified.
Actions Required: Developing corrective action plans.
Outcomes Desired: Once you have collected and analyzed feedback, you are able to create corrective action plans to rectify any gaps. If certain individuals are not successfully changing, you can double back on change management activities to ensure they move through their change processes.
You complete activities at the project level of change management to ensure that the intended results and outcomes are achieved. The intended results and outcomes of the project can only be achieved when individuals start doing their jobs differently. Therefore, the project level and individual level of change management must integrate in order to meet the goals of change.
Change management at the project level provides the "actions required" while change management at the individual level provides the "outcomes desired."
For more information on managing the individual level, download this guide to the Prosci ADKAR Model, an individual model that describes the change process from the perspective of individual employees.
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.