The topic of change management is bound to come up in all project environments. If it doesn’t, then it should! Bring it up and ensure change management gets the spotlight. This blog will help you formalize a solid approach that will serve your project well.
Traditionally, organizational change management (OCM) has been one of the activities undertaken in the last three-to-six months before a project goes live. Now that we are talking about cloud projects, with faster timelines and less staffing, we need to discuss OCM as early as possible.
It’s critical to recognize the fact that even if processes are clear and the technology can be configured and adapted faster, people still require the same time as before to adopt new ideas. If a project is meant to launch and support a new, modern approach to HR, the real success will be achieved only through users’ and employees’ adoption of it. That, in turn, requires a true change in mindsets that will last through the medium and long term.
Consider these seven steps for developing a comprehensive organizational change management plan:
- 1. Identify your stakeholders.
As early as possible, identify and document all key stakeholders, their roles and their expected reactions. This step is important because involving the team in the early stages of selection will provide buy-in. It can also give you a preview as to who might be a negative force later.
- 2. Communicate your plan for change.
Don’t let office gossip take the role of official distribution agent. Be transparent with your communication. It should not only focus on what will change, but it should also give management’s vision, its fit in the corporate strategy and the anticipated steps to implement. Cloud HR systems provide access to all workers, and that can be very empowering to managers and employees alike, but only if they understand it rather than just see the change as a threat or an additional layer of work for them.
- 3. Gather information.
You can gather valuable information in several ways. A survey of all stakeholders can uncover important obstacles. Personal interviews focus on individual opinions and perceptions and allow more in-depth responses. Getting all critical actors in the same room to discuss the upcoming project together will provide surprising insight on what has not been shared or absorbed. We often believe that because an email has been sent, communication has been completed. Not necessarily true. Information has only been communicated if the email has been read, understood, and internalized.
- 4. Create a communication plan.
A simple list of messages, mediums and delivery times can be enough, if it is enacted accordingly. Most of the time, messages should be repeated using multiple channels to improve the odds that everybody will be reached. For example, you may use emails, along with flyers in the lunch area, and a video announcement on the intranet. Depending on the resistance you find in the organization, you may even organize a debate, so that that employees with very different backgrounds and adoption styles get an opportunity to express views.
Run with your plan! As presentation experts suggest, say it, say it again, and close by repeating it.
- 6. Publicize success!
Highlight the successful outcomes of the project. Explain what is being gained from the change. Was money saved? Are processes faster now? How has user adoption improved? What are the expected next steps?
- 7. Reward adoption.
Showcase the team who implemented the new system, and keep broadcasting wins and ROI as the new processes become ingrained in the company culture. For example you can interviewing early adopters or testers and include testimonials in your employee newsletter. It can be an effective way to encourage a larger population to use your new tools!
These are our seven recommended steps, but there is no true end to the OCM process because change is continuous. The first change management project is only the start. So once the process concludes for the current project, take time to capture the lessons learned and what could have worked better. Share that information with stakeholders, and document it so that it can be used in later phases. Then, the next time you embark on OCM, you will be equipped with better tools and plans for success.
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