Change Management Series: Is Your Team Ready for Change?
February 22, 2022
By Brenda Crosby | Lean Six Sigma Black Belt
The thought of changing the way we work can be daunting. But change is necessary. To enhance our customer experience, staff experience or competitive advantage, we must continually evaluate current processes and technology. Before pushing ahead with change, however, we need to make sure those impacted by it—our team members and other stakeholders—are involved and ready for it.
In this first article in our series on Change Management, we identify ways to assess the challenge you’re aiming to solve, as well as your team’s readiness, so you can start the change process off right.
Here are ten best practices to consider.
1. Identify the problem and its impact.
Prior to making any change, take time to clearly articulate the problem (i.e., the reason for the change) in a statement. Draft a fact-based statement of the problem, and avoid words of feelings, opinion, or blame.
Once you’ve identified the problem in a statement, consider its impacts. Identify and detail the ways in which it affects your organization, clients, and employees. What is this problem costing, wasting, or preventing your organization from achieving? Identify performance metrics that help to quantify the impact. Now you can draft an impact statement of the defined problem.
Both the problem statement and impact statement should be concise, factual, supported by data, and void of emotion. Consider using bullet points whenever possible.
With these two statements in hand, you are now equipped to present to your organization’s leaders where attention and change is needed. If you struggle to define the problem in a statement, don’t get discouraged. Keep working with stakeholders until you have it, as this is an important first step in any proposed change.
2. Assess potential solutions.
Now that you’ve clearly identified the problem, it’s time to brainstorm and assess solutions. Begin by getting input and ideas from a wide range of stakeholders, including staff who work directly with the process and others who interact with it, customers and clients, and vendors.
Be curious and creative in generating conversation and ideas around an ideal future state. What would the ideal solution be if there were no constraints to time or resources? Be aware of how existing assumptions can limit openness to a solution or new idea. Keep in mind that the most obvious solution may not be the best solution.
Once you have ideas for solutions, assess them in terms of effort (low to high) and time (quick fix to long process). Evaluate how each solution’s objective and deliverable supports the organization’s goals and vision.
3. Analyze impacts.
It’s critical to analyze both the qualitative and quantitative impacts of the change. Doing so allows you to better tell your change story—and is essential to getting buy-in from stakeholders and organizational leaders. Consider how the change will impact processes upstream as well as downstream.
Often change doesn’t stick because leaders neglect to fully consider all the impacts. For instance, if you plan to update your organization’s finance software, ask about and consider how the change will affect other, non-finance-related departments.
4. Determine your stakeholders.
Stakeholders are the individuals who have skin in the game. Because change has a ripple effect, you likely have more stakeholders than you think. To determine your stakeholders, start with the staff members immediately affected by the change and work outwards from there.
5. Assess risks.
Assess risks to your organization, including to customers and staff. Identify the risks of making the change, and equally important discuss the risks of not making the change. Also, consider the ideal timing for the change. For example, if your finance department is in the process of updating its software, is now the best time for the HR department to implement a new HRS system?
6. Identify and secure resources.
What resources do you need to move forward with your change? Resources likely fall within three categories: time, money, and people. Who are the organization’s individuals who hold the purse, stopwatch, and go / no-go power? Who are the subject matter experts needed to lead, participate, and see the change through to the end?
7. Set your scope.
Scope creep is one of the biggest hurdles to successfully implementing change. As you prepare to implement your solution, you’re likely to come across a slew of creative ideas. This is a good problem to have but can be difficult to control. Who’s going to be the gatekeeper—i.e., the person who will let the right ideas through and direct others to the parking lot for future action?
8. Establish a timeline.
Consider setting a timeline for these four phases: discovery, gathering and analyzing data, implementing, and rolling out.
9. Develop a communication plan.
This is the most important thing you can do to ready your team for change. You simply cannot over-communicate. Communication keeps team members, stakeholders, and organization leaders involved and in support of the change.
10. Plan for next steps.
When your organization is facing any significant change, it’s important to make sure your team is ready. By following these best practices your organization and employees will be prepared for change to happen with them—and not to them.
The team at Abdo is here to guide and support you through the change process, from helping you identify your problem to quantifying it, and then finding and implementing a solution. We can partner with your organization as your project manager for the change, giving you the right tools for success.
To start your organization’s change journey, contact us today.