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10 key components of successful change

Updated: Feb 8, 2021

We appear to be emerging from the shadows of covid-19 and change and transformation seem to be very much at the forefront of business leaders thinking. We’ve all learned a lot since March 2020 and have been very much on a forced change journey, from crisis management in March/April to rolling 90 day plans through to August/September, and maybe we find ourselves lurching back there once more.

I’ve personally seen a shift in mind-set from autumn 2020 with many of my clients wanting to take back control due to a feeling that 2021 should be a year not just to go back to doing what we were doing and how we were doing it before March 2020, but a year to evolve, a year to step up and be a better and stronger organisation.

Bob Dylan wrote many lyrics, but some that resonate with me now more than ever are those to a very well-known song, The Times They Are A-Changin'

“Come gather 'round, people

Wherever you roam

And admit that the waters

Around you have grown

And accept it that soon

You'll be drenched to the bone

If your time to you is worth savin'

And you better start swimmin'

Or you'll sink like a stone

For the times they are a-changin'”

I’ve heard some businesses saying that they want to change or that they have to change or they must change… but without anything more than a gut feel or poor financial performance driving that. These are good reasons stimulate thoughts of change, but change for changes sake is a distraction, can be costly and sometime fatal to business.

Now is always a good time to step away, look back and learn and look forward and plan. Following a simple process to uncover areas for improvement that demand change and seeing opportunities that will not be realised without change. More about the processes of strategy and planning can be read in getting back to business blog written back in May as we all started to exit crisis management and

Evolution or Revolution, both are great catalysts for change and give us a reason to change… but importantly the change will be fully aligned to the strategy and most importantly one or more of the goals set out and agreed by the business as part of that review.

So let's assume we’ve found one or maybe more change requirements through following a process and highlighting the needs for change, in my mine there are 10 main components of successful change, to ensure that positive change is delivered on time and in budget:

1. Reason and scope of change

Why do we want change? What do we expect to see as a result of change? What are the business benefits of change? What are the risks of change and not affecting the change? What’s required to change (time and cost)? If we’ve got more than one change are there interdependencies or an order or priority and do we run change projects end to end or in parallel? All these questions need to be understood, and be answered by the business and the key people who are going to be involved directly and maybe also impacted directly by proposed changes. As such we improve the change of change success.

2. Change readiness

Is the business ready to change, are management and leaders able to affect those changes, who are the people to lead this change and why? There are many assessment tools available that look at change readiness from an individual level to an organisational level and cultural level. By undertaking analysis using proven tools will highlight potential problem (resistance areas) areas that need addressing and demonstrate the business commitment to delivering change and investing in change, and in turn start to build a positive change culture in the business.

3. Communication of change

Change success will occur through positive engagement, openness to discussion and debate, communication why, what, where, when and how will be so valuable. Making people aware of the process, time frame, reasons and benefits… not just at the start but through the process and at the end and beyond. Inclusion in everything and as a business everyone will likely see or be impacted in one way, so engage as much as you can and also remember to get feedback from stakeholders. Consider 1:1’s, Team Briefings, Workshops and don’t always have directors doing briefings get the change team and change manager delivering the messages.

4. Assembling the team Sponsor activities and sponsor roadmaps

Who is managing change, who is in that team, does the change have a board level sponsor &/or SMT sponsor. Getting the right resource in place and empowering that team is critical to change success.

5. Team preparedness Coaching and manager training for change management

Do we have the skill set internally or do we need external resource, support, and help? Do we understand change process management and do we have the tools to help us deliver the project? Its time for honesty and if its supporting the strategy then trying to do this on a shoestring, and cutting corners will increase risk of failure.

6. Training and employee training development

Linking back to the above, if we don’t have a process we are increasing risk, if we don’t follow a consistent process for multiple process for change(s) then risk increases. There are many freely available tools and templates, and if unsure of what’s right and best then engage a specialist to impart knowledge and help you through the process, they don’t always need to be engaged in the project but can coach, mentor, guide and steer. It will be a very small price to pay and the ROI will be significant.

7. Managing resistance management

People don’t like change, fact! People will resist change, fact! We need to mitigate this significant risk not just by highlighting teams/people but through ongoing engagement and reassurance.

8. Feedback analysis and adjustment

Change is hard and sometimes we don’t get it right first time, or maybe there are things that get missed or an interdependency that was missed. It’s why analysis of change data and stakeholder feedback is so important. Not just at the end but throughout the process. Miss this component and errors compound up to big problems that should have been avoided and corrected early when small issues.

9. Positive recognition reinforces change

By doing change in chucks and sprints will allow success and achievements to be fully celebrated… 10 successes through the journey rather than 1 big one at the end will encourage, enthuse and drive adoptions and acceptance of change.

10. Post project review

Like all good projects, review and reflection back to the reasons and scope and perceived benefits, makes the process complete. Following a Plan-Do-Check-Act approach is a good step through the process of change and a significant detailed review with feedback at all levels is wholly necessary to ensure that all stakeholders see what collectively have been achieved and the benefits that will now be realised.

A well delivered change project can be a catalyst for driving a culture shift towards one of Continuous Improvement, so the benefits of the project will not be isolated but should contribute to ongoing positive development of the business culture. For more about this then read our recent blog on how to make performance improvement culture a reality.

If you want to discuss any of this, or maybe talk about a change project you’ve already started or one you’re thinking about kicking off soon then feel free to get in touch and book yourself a FREE ‘managing change’ ZOOM consultation by clicking the image below.

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