Change management can sound like a scary endeavor and can cause its own crisis if not implemented properly.
Sometimes change is necessary but done properly with the right tools and intentions, can enhance your business and product to be the best it can be.
By steering clear of the ten mistakes below, you can give your program an excellent chance of being successful.
Not explaining the need for change
Making sure that your employees and partners are fully on board with the change is one of the most important and critical steps. They will be the people executing the actual work so if you have not given them a proper “why” it will be nearly impossible to be successful.
Change can sometimes make people uneasy that they will lose their jobs as well. Having a nervous and contentious workforce will only work against you.
Ensure they understand the benefits in real terms and not C-suite jargon well before the program begins in order to have the best outcomes.
Not giving a clear vision of the future
Initiatives and programs can start out strong and then fizzle. Employees need to understand what happens after the changes are in place in order to keep enthusiasm strong and on track.
Programs without drive will fail. Specific metrics as to how things will change, such as increasing order-processing time by 20 percent, is a tangible number employees can work with.
Not giving employees the tools or capacity to change
If you want employees to be able to implement your changes, make sure they have the right tools and the time to do it. In our time where we are asking people to do more with less, make sure they can actually DO it.
Not having an action plan
A detailed action plan will help keep everyone on the same page and moving toward the same goals. If you don’t provide a map to the destination, you probably won’t reach it. Use your stakeholders throughout the whole company to draft the plan then get regular status updates to see if it is on track.
Not seeking outside expertise
Unless you have a very large company, most businesses do not have change management expertise in-house and if you do, you may run into internal politics or conflicts of interest.
Consultants can help because they have very specific areas of expertise and can identify areas that may be vulnerable and cause financial issues later, such as organizational misalignment or counterproductive leadership behaviors.
They can also execute their work quickly because internal employees usually have their regular duties to attend to in addition to the change management initiative. A focused resource will allow you to get your plan set and in action faster.
Short-cutting the process
Thinking of your initiative as a transition instead of a change can help the leaders understand that it is not an overnight process.
Transitions take longer and employees will move through them at different paces, depending on how comfortable they are with the change.
If you don’t allow it to happen at the proper speed, you might end the effort prematurely and not realize all the benefits that were intended as well as create new problems.
A larger change will obviously require a longer transition and then subsequent sustainability phase.
Lack of senior leadership commitment
If employees do not see company leadership and executives supporting the change, it is dead in the water.
There needs to be a clear and dedicated executive sponsor who is clearly accountable. She should provide active and visible support for the program.
This is done by supporting the change team, sharing the vision in clear terms, highlights the benefits, and also gains buy-in for the program from the executive’s peers.
Not allowing enough money for the change
Sometimes it is painfully clear that you need to spend money to make money.
In a 2011 Gartner study, it was discovered that companies often only allocate five percent of a program management budget for change management but need an average of 15 percent.
Obviously, this can change depending on the scope of the program. More on that shortly.
Failing to integrate change management with program management
In order to have a successfully-executed change management initiative, it needs to be integrated with the program structure.
Your program management employees are stakeholders that should be included in the initial planning of the initiative.
If you try to do it without their input you will find loopholes and gaps and vice versa if the change management experts are not included in the program management plans.
Not understanding the full scope of the change
It is in our nature to focus a lot on the technical and tangible aspects of an initiative. But what about the human factors?
When we focus too narrowly on a program, we risk missing the impact to culture, mindset, working relationships, behavior, internal politics and past attempts at change.
In order to be conscious of all the dynamic and systemic issues, keying in on experts like your Communications and Human Resource professionals will help you meet these issues head-on.
For instance, an organization realignment may seem simple but have you taken into account reporting structures or current leadership woes?
You can still choose to ignore these factors but if you do you may create chaos and unpredictable consequences, like high employee turnover in the affected area.
This is by no means an extensive list and can feel overwhelming but there are a few key takeaways.
First, you are dealing with change and people. Make sure people are communicated with early and often and also included in the process. No one wants to feel left out or like they are being put upon by change. If they are going to be negatively impacted, early communication can help mitigate some of the risks.
Also ensure you are allowing enough time to plan, implement and then sustain a change. Trying to rush through any stage won’t allow you to have the best outcome. Change is hard but planning and implementation doesn’t have to be.