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What tools do IT managers need to successfully manage change?

As well as routine project management and IT programmes, IT managers are often tasked with the people elements of change – an implementation can’t be seen as successful if there is no user adoption.

So what do they need in order to make sure this goes smoothly?  IT managers need practical tools that will be sustainable for future use. As all change is unique and needs people to truly own it, all guidelines and templates must be flexible and adaptable to help engage people and enable them to put their own stamp on a project.

Here are my top ten products and tools to support IT managers:

1.       Change readiness assessment

There are questions to ask around how ready the business is for a particular change. How likely are the current culture and patterns of working to lend themselves to adoption of the new process or technology? What barriers may appear in the organisation?  Readiness assessments allow us to baseline our change capability within an organisation, or a part of an organisation. Readiness assessments can be repeated at various points up until go-live to measure the effectiveness of the change management we have implemented.

Take our sample organisational change readiness assessment

2.       A change readiness dashboard

The change readiness dashboard will collate the various readiness assessments and report them as a whole.  Through a readiness dashboard we can assess if our change management approach is being successful

3.       Change impact analysis

This is a template that allows us to overlay what the change is, with which user groups it is going to affect.  We can build on this to determine how we best support for those groups.

4.       Stakeholder mapping templates

A means of identifying and classifying key stakeholders according to their influence and relevance to the project. This can feed into a stakeholder management plan.

5.       A process for co-creating a key message framework

As well as the key message framework, you’ll also want to co-create the core story with key stakeholders.

Read our blog on the impact of storytelling on your change programme

6.       An adaptable communications strategy

Your communications strategy will need to be adaptable and flexible enough that it can be applied to different functions/areas to ensure it reaches all corners of your stakeholder matrix.

7.       A guide for line managers to support their teams throughout a project and beyond

You will need a guide for line managers to help them support their teams, and you will also need guides for sponsors and change champions to help them fulfil their roles. This includes ideas for sharing success, communicating at different levels, setting example behaviours, gathering and monitoring feedback, and answering questions. The guides should support the change network to reach the heart of the business, to prepare people and embed a number of changes in behaviour. And, thinking back to sustainability – these guides are inherently reusable.

8.       A sponsor roadmap

The roadmap needs to provide a  framework for the change project, and set out how the sponsor can support the various project teams and stakeholders, as well as how the project manager can use the sponsor to effectively deal with resistance and challenges.

Here’s the Prosci take on the sponsorship roadmap

9.       The creation of sustainable and highly relevant communications materials

Sustainability for any team faced with implementing change, really means three things here: 1 Boosting long term skills. Once a team goes through the process once and has coaching, the process becomes repeatable. 2 Tools should always have a long life-span for example a video should be reusable. This means every item has to be produced with sustainability in mind: ‘where can we use this elsewhere?’ ‘What would need to come out to enable multiple use?’ And 3. Adaptable templates for items such as emails and newsletters can all be used again and again by an IT manager or change team, to create materials for new projects.

10.   The development of a one-stop portal

often developed in SharePoint, the portal will house everything people need to know about the new technology, with individual learning pathways that can be tailored and updated for new projects.

 

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the ten points above. Are there any more elements you think could be added? Let us know in the comments below.

How does change management fit with project management?

There is, understandably, some confusion about how change management activities sit alongside project management.

After all, project management provides for comms and learning, so what’s the need for additional change management?
Looking at the success rate of projects, we can see there is great additional need for a structured approach to managing the people aspect of change.

Working at portfolio level – transformational change

This looks at projects from a portfolio, organisational perspective. If your organisation is faced with complex transformation, involving multiple projects, typical project management activities around comms and learning will not be enough to steer the organisation’s people towards a desired future state – efforts at the project level will simply be too fragmented. Change management allows for a portfolio top-down view of the way in which a business’s people will move from the present state to a future desired state.

Designing change with people in mind

At the beginning, project management includes a focus on initial stakeholder analysis, mapping and communications planning. However, change management goes further to plot the impact of the change/s on the organisation and teams.

This is the important part, without the buy-in and engagement of the organisation’s people, the project is likely to encounter negativity and push-back, with project managers spending precious time fighting fires and rescuing relationships.

The change management team will get to grips with the culture and beliefs of the different teams involved, understanding that potentially, each of these groups have their own unique attributes and preferences.  Feedback will be gathered directly from people on how the proposed changes could affect them, and how their day-to-day working may be impacted.

Building this initial picture and understanding of the organisation’s teams is the first step in a structured approach to the people aspect of change. Next the change management team will carry out impact analysis, change readiness assessment, and initial stakeholder research in order to outline a strategy to manage resistance and fulfil communication and engagement roles.

Factoring people in at the beginning means that barriers to adoption can be clearly identified and proactively dealt with.

Adding depth to the delivery of change to people

Articulating the reasons for the change, from a people and business perspective, comes directly from having the above people-focused approach to planning and strategy. A clearer vision comes from conveying the wider context of change and what that will mean for people. The story of why the change is happening is given a broader strategic level context.

From that it is easier to produce the blueprint for a visual identity, and a set of messages that create impact for teams and individuals. Inspiring people with a story, the context for the change and what it will mean for them are all made possible by the more structured people-focused planning and strategy which is afforded by change management.

Further, change management activities create a network of local support during the project delivery. Change champions are equipped to communicate and endorse the change. Special attention is given to line managers, sponsors and this change network to enable them to fulfil the goal of not just pushing messages out, but receiving input and monitoring how the change is being received and adopted by people.

An IT manager may deliver change focusing on communicating the benefits and training people to use new technology or process. However, change management process takes this further. Feedback and response mechanisms are formalised and structured.  It provides coaching for senior leaders and sponsors on how to identify the root causes of resistance and how to engage and manage resistance when it happens.

Read our article on managing resistance to change.

Training becomes another opportunity to engage with people and obtain their buy-in and genuine participation. Change management activities relating to training focus on how it can be made more interactive, designed for feedback, and feature the organisation’s people in the delivery – all with the core messaging throughout.

Post implementation we find that change management’s people focus means that people are rewarded and acknowledged for their adoption of the new, reinforcing the change after ‘go-live’. Feedback from people improves process and ensures the changes adapt to meet their original goals.

How change management reduces resistance to change

Resistance to change must always be anticipated. Happily, change management ensures you are prepared when it happens.

Change management is all about securing people’s adoption of change. Following its structured approach will help to anticipate and mitigate resistance.

Readiness assessments

It’s important to plan early on for resistance, as it will appear in some form or another, you can bet on that. But it will differ by team and organisation. Understanding the audience and business gives you the best head start.

Scoping the big picture

In the initial phases it’s important to take a step back and see the big picture. Often, too much attention is placed on individuals or jumping straight into a training needs analysis or communications plan.

Change management resistance to change

Stakeholder analysis of key groups will focus your energy on the right people.

An impact assessment can show the following:

  • What teams will be affected
  • When the change will affect different teams
  • How much of a behaviour change is required from the current way of working

An impact assessment and change readiness assessment should focus on identifying groups and rating these. The key tip is: Don’t try and do everything at once and stick to the broad view!

From this you can go on to outline anticipated points of resistance and tactics to manage them. You’ll be aware of what form that resistance will likely take and where it will come from.

The resistance plan

This is one of your plans that sits alongside the communications, training and sponsor roadmaps and can include the following:

  • Measurements for a real problem – What are your indicators of serious resistance?
  • Lines to take – Your communications plan and toolkit relates closely to your resistance plan
  • The team – How the change management team understands its role.

During change – processes and tools

People resist change because they cannot see a clear benefit and are unsure of how to work in the new way. Change management deploys communication and training for this very reason.

Delivering high impact branded communications will help to inform and educate people on why the change is happening and where the benefits might lie for their team. A flexible learning portal can be tailored for different teams, giving any-time access to knowledge.

Engagement

Change management emphasises two way engagement and employee feedback, with managers and leaders understanding their role in interpreting the feedback and producing communications outputs. The change management team needs to identify, understand and help other managers and change champions manage resistance throughout the organisation.

Post project – benefits realisation

Ongoing resistance management

Benefits realisation, with a people focus, looks at how the adoption has really worked.  Are people using the tools and processes as expected – or are they figuring out work arounds, or worse, finding alternatives?  Change management process keeps you focused on people adoption as part of its benefits realisation phase where continued monitoring is used.

Change management activities sit alongside every step of a project. This dedicated people focus at every stage allows you to plan for, and manage, resistance to change.

Person-Centred Business Change

How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb?  Apparently just one, but the bulb must want to change.  The old ones are the best – but maybe there’s something here for us in Business Change.

The Person-Centred approach to therapy was developed by Carl Rogers.  Crudely, at the heart of his thinking lies the belief that if people feel secure – safe and valued – they’re more likely to be able to embrace change, and effect it for themselves.  Intuitively, this makes sense, and evidence over decades now can be produced to support the contention.  Rogers identified three ‘core conditions’ that would characterise the attitude of the therapist to the client in effective working: congruence (being genuine); empathy (a deep understanding of what the client is feeling); and an unconditional positive regard for the client (acceptance).

Are there parallels for us as business change practitioners?  Seems to me there are quite a few.

First, and not least, like Person-Centred therapists we do well when we view those facing change as clients, not patients – equals in the relationship.  And, like the corny joke, if they don’t want to embrace change we know that change initiatives are likely to be far less effective than we need them to be.

The core conditions seem to apply as well.  When those leading change programmes are not genuine, when staying on message becomes spin, then those impacted by those programmes invariably sniff that out – and resistance to change grows.  So, congruence matters, and that’s probably pretty well understood.

At Afiniti, we’ve always stressed the need for empathy a deep understanding of those impacted by change – taking the time to understand their current context in depth, learning about what they do, and how they think and feel about it, and about the prospect of change.  We think we pay more attention to this empathetic understanding than many, but its importance really shouldn’t be news to anyone.

What then about unconditional positive regard?  The Person-Centred model wouldn’t require us to approve of every action that those impacted by change take, but it would require us to approve of them.  So, how do we really think about those impacted by change?  As a problem to be solved, or as partners?  As individuals with bad attitude, or as people with entirely legitimate concerns and anxieties?  As people of intrinsic value, or as resources to be deployed at will?  Of the three core conditions this one seems the hardest, the one that Change Initiatives are most likely to stumble over.

How many change leaders does it take to change an organisation?  Perhaps one, but maybe it’s not just the organisation that needs to want to change.

Communications Tips for Managing Change

Managing change and communicating it to people can be a messy affair. It can be uncomfortable, problematic and challenging.

You potentially need to persuade many people that the journey you’re about to talk about is worth embarking on and your audience will be split into groups who’ll be positive, resistant, wary or ambivalent – so you’ll have a challenge on your hands.

Read more

Three things you need to do to engage employees with change

Did you know that we are bombarded with 174 newspapers’ worth of data and information each day?  This is four times the amount of just 25 years ago. So when delivering change it is vital that your programme stands out from the crowd and you engage employees with change.

Consider also, that the pace of change is increasing day by day as companies keep up with the competition and follow market trends in a bid to avoid the risk of failure.  There is pressure to innovate, introduce new solutions and find new ways of communicating so projects deliver full business benefits. So what can you do to ensure you engage employees and drive long term behavioural change?

Read more