As change becomes ubiquitous in the workplace, more organizations are developing internal change management capability to help keep the pace. Rather than leaving change implementation up to individual departments and projects, some organizations are opting for a more structured process and a standardized set of tools to help ensure success.
The following are five steps organizations are taking to successfully implement change management programs:
Form a Centralized Team
The change management effort starts with one or more people who are tasked with improving the ability of the organization to change. The team selects or develops the overall process that the organization will use and then works together to implement it. They support change projects throughout the organization, by acting as internal consultants or by providing the resources departments need to implement change themselves.
Some change management teams are formed within existing departments, such as human resources, organization development or effectiveness, or project management. Others create new departments outside the existing structure, with names like Center of Expertise, Operational Excellence, or Change Management Office. Wherever the team sits in the organization, in general, the higher up the hierarchy it reports, the more authority, credibility and scope it has.
Brand for Culture
When developing the change methodology, successful teams account for the organization’s culture. Some organizations prefer to license established methodologies and implement them without much customization, because employees will readily accept it. Others develop their own approach because they know employees will balk at “consultant-speak,” so they need to make it more palatable. Some go so far as to fit the change management approach to the product or service the organization provides. For example, ESPN’s change management process has a sports theme. Successful change management teams are tuned in to what type of branding will most likely be adopted within the culture of the organization.
Rather than starting with a big kick-off event announcing a new change management methodology, successful change management programs usually begin with a more grassroots approach. Going where their help is wanted, teams work to implement the new methodology on a few projects – the more visible the better. Sharing the success of those projects proves the concept and builds demand, while applying lessons learned improves the approach. After a few successes, then the wider change management roll out can begin.
Build a Network of Change Agents
Organizations large enough to need a centralized change management team also have too many projects going on at once for the centralized team to manage and give the proper amount of support. It becomes necessary to build a network of people throughout the organization who adopt the methodology and become extensions of the team within their areas. Developing the network of change agents has the added benefit of increasing engagement with the change process and embedding it further into the way the organization implements change.
In some organizations, the selected change agents are in a specific role, like project managers or HR business partners. In others, the change agents are nominated by their managers or self-selected to implement change. Whatever role they play in the organization, change agents need the tools and skills to implement change. Capable change agents not only know how to apply the tools developed by the change management team, they also have the ability to perceive and uncover resistance, and the skill and willingness to influence when needed. The process of building a network of change agents includes developing these traits.
Train Managers How to Lead Change
Effective change management teams know that a network of capable change agents is not enough to successfully implement change. Because so often change is hindered by the lack of proper support by managers, they too must understand and fulfill the unique roles they play when it comes to implementing change. Part of a successful internal change management program includes training and coaching managers on how to lead change. And any successful change methodology provides a way to identify the behaviors managers must adopt for the change to succeed.
Since implementing a change management model throughout an organization is in itself a change management project, it’s a good opportunity to “eat your own dog food,” as the saying goes. Implementing the tools and approach you’ve chosen on your own initiative is the truest demonstration – and test – there is of confidence, capability, and effectiveness.