Change can be challenging at the best of times, but when it comes to managing it, it’s even more critical that you get it right. We work alongside project managers on a daily basis, professionals who are constantly involved with change management initiatives. In this post, we look at some of their advice on introducing and managing change as a project manager.
Communicating the Vision for Change
From start to finish, communication is critical to managing change in organisations successfully. Begin with the vision and objectives associated with the change, clearly voicing where the business is going, and how you plan on getting there. Don’t be cautious of over-communicating, you want to avoid any mixed signals that could put the project at risk.
Change can be unsettling for many, so it’s important to address any uncertainty or doubt by helping employees to understand how the change will affect them personally. Also, try to use a blend of informal and formal communication channels to ensure all employees receive the news (not everyone will read their emails!). This is a good chance to hold interactive workshops and forums. This is a great medium for employees to explore the changes and provide feedback. As there will likely be team members that know the company back to front, gaining their feedback allows managers to work out any potential kinks.
Overcoming Resistance and Conflict
With uncertainty comes fear (most of us are naturally uncomfortable with it), which is why it should be no surprise that resistance and conflict is so common with change initiatives. By spending some time before the launch of a project to evaluate likely sources of resistance, it will be considerably easier to deal with them as they arise.
The importance of listening cannot be overstated. This is why it is crucial to respond to feedback provided. Even if doesn’t change the plan, by responding you are showing that their concerns are being heard. In order to facilitate effective listening, a safe environment needs to be provided for people to discuss conflicts. This will give you the best chance of managing resistance and conflict-based teething problems as you will be able to engage key stakeholders and find out the facts contributing to the conflict. From here, you’ll be able to make the necessary decisions to get the initiative back on track.
Training and Support
As you put your plan into action, you’ll probably find a lot of employees in need of training to accommodate the changes made. It might be an unfamiliar system, or new processes to deal with. Either way, it’s important that skill gaps are identified as your plans unfold. Once any gaps are identified, ensure that you have the support in place to guarantee that employees are ready. That may mean investing in additional training and upskilling, but it is vital that you set your people up to succeed prior to the change being rolled out.
Embed the Change
While the other steps are important in implementing the change, it will only be successful when it becomes embedded in day-to-day business. In order to achieve this, provide new standards and create clarity around what is expected. Also, showcase and communicate early wins (and do it often). Doing this will help your teams feel as though change is achievable and will aid in bringing any sceptics on board. Lastly, don’t forget to continue training and communicating until it sticks – you don’t want people reverting to bad habits!
Navigating and implementing the change management steps can be a tough process. It’s not an overnight process but one that takes consistency, persistence and visible leadership across all levels to make it possible. At EGC, we have access to some of the best change professionals on the market. To see how we can help you navigate the change management process, get in touch today.