Defining an Organizational Change Management Process

Jesse Hopps

Organizational change provides the opportunity for organizations to build more focused, disciplined, and mature businesses. This opportunity comes with significant financial risk if changes are not planned and managed proactively.

Change management is primarily concerned with how to understand, engage, respond, and communicate with PEOPLE. A solid vision, senior management sponsorship, and having the right people in the right roles, are the key success factors for implementing a successful change management campaign. Use our Change Management Readiness Assessment to measure your readiness for a major organizational change.

There are four key types of organizational change:

  1. Process Change - these focus on how workflows are managed with an effort to streamline business processes to increase efficiencies, reduce costs, and improve quality. For example, changing accounting systems and processes.
  2. Structural Change - these focus on changing organizational structures such as reporting relationships, mergers & acquisitions, and centralization initiatives. Normally, these changes are top-down and geared to improve the overall financial performance of a business.
  3. Cost Containment - these changes are focused on eliminating any costs that are not essential for operation. Typically, cost containment initiatives are the result of a tight economy for a particular industry or poor sales results.
  4. Cultural Change - as organizations move from a product-centric business to a customer-centric enterprise, changes to organizational norms and attitudes must be made.

Requirements for Effecting Change

Use our Change Management Readiness Assessment to ensure you are prepared for change. Before embarking on a major change initiative, ensure your organization has considered these key requirements:

  • Senior Management Sponsorship - it is essential that a senior leader who is capable of communicating the strategic vision for the change has accepted responsibility for the effort. This leader must have access to all critical stakeholders, and have solid project management skills. Use our Stakeholder Analysis Matrix to evaluate key stakeholders willingness to change.
  • Educated and Engaged Employees - employees must: understand why the change needs to occur; be involved in the planning & implementation of the change; be capable of participating in the change effort; and help others adapt.
  • Alignment of Business & Personal Objectives - it is critical that you positively reinforce the change by aligning business objectives with personal objectives for each employees, manager, and senior executive. For example, link performance reviews and bonus structures to metrics associated with the goals & objectives of the new programs.

Gathering Buy-in from Key Stakeholders

Ensuring that your change effort is aligned with the overall business strategy, links directly to employee career objectives, and is managed by a senior sponsor, will provide a solid foundation for implementing successful programs. Use our Stakeholder Analysis Matrix to evaluate key stakeholders willingness to change.

It is safe to assume that the majority of your staff will NOT be evangelists of the proposed change. In most cases, senior management view change as an opportunity for the organization and for themselves. Conversely, change is often seen as disruptive, unnecessary, and frightening for employees.

Research indicates that less than 20% of your employees will immediately recognize the need and value of the change, 50% will be sit on the fence, and around 30% will not initially be supportive of the change.

Similar to government politics, your goal is to leverage the supportive 20% to influence the 50% majority, while minimizing the influence of the 30% who are likely to never agree with the change.

Following are a few tips from Cynthia Scott and Dennis Jaffe who are regarded as experts in the change management field:

  • Have a Good Reason for the Change
  • Involve People in the Change
  • Put a Respected Person in Charge of the Process
  • Create Transition Management Teams
  • Provide Training in New Values & Behavior
  • Bring in Help from Outside if Necessary
  • Establish Symbols of Change
  • Acknowledge & Reward People

Change Management Best Practices

  1. Establish the Need for Change - build momentum and urgency for the change by examining market conditions and competitive forces. Identify risks, potential crises, and opportunities for adapting the organization to the situation. Use our Change Management Readiness Assessment to examine your organizations readiness for change.
  2. Work from a Steering Committee - create a cross-functional steering committee that has the power to invoke the changes that need to be made. This inter-departmental team must quickly gel and check their egos at the door.
  3. Develop a Vision & Strategy - use a project plan to articulate how the change will be managed. Communicate the vision of the goal-state, and devise strategies to accomplish the desired outcomes and objectives.
  4. Reinforce the Change Vision - use all channels to communicate the vision. Create signs, slogans, and team charters. Communicate updates on your intranet, via email, and during staff meetings on a regular basis.
  5. Empower your Employees - clear any obstacles to achieving the vision; change structures or systems that obstruct the required change; encourage risk-taking and non-traditional ideas, activities, and actions.
  6. Generate Short-Term Wins - plan and monitor visible improvements in performance (.wins.). When small achievements are made, recognize your employees in front of their colleagues and peers.
  7. Consolidate Gains & Produce More Change - use increased credibility from short-term wins to change all systems, policies, and structures that don’t fit with the transformational vision. Hire, promote, and develop people who are agents of positive change. Reinvigorate the change program with new projects, themes, and change agents.
  8. Anchor New Approaches in the Culture - improve performance by adopting a more customer-centric, and productivity-oriented behavior. Articulate connections between new behaviors and organizational success. Develop effective leadership and succession processes.

Use our Change Management Planning Tool to assess your organizations readiness for implementing a major change initiative. This tool will ensure you have a sufficiently powerful sponsor, and the means to enable successful change programs. You should also use our Change Management Strategy Scorecard to document change objectives, initiatives, measures, and targets, for the next 12-18 months. A project portfolio can also be helpful in documenting roll out for change initiatives.