The excerpt below comes from the 2005 Best Practices in Change Management benchmarking report with 411 participants from 59 countries. The report includes findings for all aspects of managing change. Below are the top three things participants would do differently on their next project. As you prepare for new projects and changes, ask yourself how well you have prepared for these factors.
Best practice excerpt - What teams would do differently on their next project
Participants were asked what they would do differently on their next project. The most commonly cited responses in order of frequency were:
Dedicate resources to change management. Create a change management team or lead position to select and adopt a methodology and improve the organization's understanding of the value of change management. Empower these individuals to prepare and educate executives, managers and project team members on change management tools, processes and techniques.
Secure executive sponsorship earlier in the project. Enlist executive support for the change as early as possible. Clarify the role of the sponsor and make sure they understand how critical this role is to the success of the project. Conduct ongoing briefings of the progress and status of the project and provide coaching in areas of change management for those managers who may be inexperienced in dealing with large-scale change.
Repeat key messages early and often. Reach everyone in the organization with messages pertaining to the change. Keep communications clear, simple and frequent.
Using best practice information
How do you use the lessons and experiences of others to help your change go more smoothly? Below are several implications.
How do you stack up - for projects on the horizon, ask yourself how well you score on the three factors above. This will be a good assessment to do before you jump into new changes in the coming year. If you score poorly on any of the factors, then take action now and don't wait!
Change management team characteristics - look for the following attributes as you choose your change management team members: excellent communication skills, business influence, commitment to the change, knowledge of the business, team player, change management experience, creativity, innovative problem solver, flexibility, passion and dedication to success, enthusiastic, and responsible.
Ensure sufficient change management team resources - increase the number of full-time personnel, increase the overall number of team members, provide the team with specific change management expertise and select a representative membership from different functions, departments, and levels within the organization.
Executive sponsors need and want to be coached - the change management team is the sponsor's coach. The change management team should build a working relationship with the executive sponsor and provide the coaching (including the sponsorship roadmap - where they need to be, when, what they will be doing) they need to be successful. This will in turn make you successful because strong and visible executive sponsorship throughout a project is the number one success factor according to the Best Practices in Change Management Report.
Preferred senders of messages - repeating key messages 5-7 times is essential, but who should be sending those messages? The Best Practices in Change Management Report identifies two primary senders of communication messages depending on the nature of the message. Top-level executives and managers are the preferred senders when the message pertains to the business need for change and alignment of the change with the organization's overall direction. The employees' immediate supervisors are cited as the key senders of messages that pertain to the individual impact resulting from the change (discussing 'what's in it for me' with each employee.)
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.