Key element 1: Assess the change readiness
Managing a change requires that you not only need to know what will change, but also how hard it will be to change. In other words, how ready is the organization and its people to make and absorb a change. How good (or bad) is the willingness to change.
The insight that you will get from this assessment will be the basis of your change management plan and approach.
It is important to have a good understanding of the readiness of the organization as such AND of the people that will be impacted. Both must be looked at.
Good Practice : perform this assessment well before the project is started since it will have an impact of the project budget.
There are many different methodologies and tools to perform such an assessment. Personally I like to apply the ADKAR concepts, developed by the PROSCI organization. ADKAR is easy to understand and very intuitive. The idea of the assessment is to know where the organization and the people are in the ADKAR acronym. Are they Aware that there is a need to change, do they have a Desire to change, do they Know how to change, …. . You do this by talking to people, interviewing them or organizing workshops to discuss those topics. PROSCI has developed very useful questionnaires and heat maps that can help you. Make sure to consider different types of people.
Key element 2: A man (or woman) with a plan
Draw up a good and realistic communication plan. In this plan you define what type of message or communication will be done for which target audience using which communication channel and define each time what the objectives are.
Good Practice : Think about ADKAR. Design your plan using the ADKAR steps and with the result of the Change Readiness assessment in mind.
Adapt your plan to the real needs of the organization and the people and align the 'what, the how and to who' with the project life cycle.
Key element 3: Leading by example
A key player in your change management approach is the project sponsor. The sponsor should be the ambassador and face of the project for the whole organization. The sponsor has to be part of the top management of the company and in fact the complete C-level of the organization must be convinced about the necessity of the project and must fully support the changes that are required.
Being a sponsor means being visible during the whole duration of the project and being actively involved in the project. As a project manager one of your important tasks is to coach, guide and assist the project sponsor in his role as sponsor. You must involve him/her very actively when designing your change & communication plan.
Good Practice : Spent a lot of time in coaching the project sponsor and actively involve the middle management
Middle management is key in the change effort. They are the bridge between top management and the end user. Usually they have a very strong impact on the end users, in a positive or negative way. They can be the change enabler or be a change barrier. Make sure you have them on board.
Key element 4: Communication, communication, comunication
Communication is key. You cannot force people to change but you can convince them to change. If everyone is convinced that the change is necessary and knows how to change and what the impact will be on their day to day activities, then your mission is successful.
Good Practice : “What’s in it for me”; make sure this is clear to everyone, from top to bottom.
An important barrier for change is the unknown. The black hole! Every person affected by the change should be perfectly knowledgeable of the impact on his/her daily work. Not only how the change will make the company as a whole more efficient and profitable but also how it will impact my day to day activities. What exactly will be different for me, what kind of activities will I have to do or not do anymore, what are my roles and responsibilities, is this clear to my supervisor or team members, …
It should be clear by now that change management is a lot more than organizing training sessions or sending out a Project Newsletter.