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Three golden rules for successful change management

Business Processes 22 Apr . min read

This year we welcomed Jen McKay, our new Client Services Director. Jen has over 15 years experience in top level corporate management consulting and programme management and specialises in complex change management services. Here Jen provides her three golden rules to successful change management.

Communicate early and often

Informing all staff that change is coming, ensures that when the date arrives, employees can be ready for it. Without sound information on why the change is occurring, and what the impact will be, a fearful culture can begin to cultivate, which can be distracting for the organisation. Employees want to know how they will be impacted, whether their position is safe, and that the change will be beneficial to their organisation. Successful change management does not start from when the change occurs, it starts much, much earlier during the early planning phase.

And remember, we humans hear what we want to hear. This means that communicating changes that are coming needs to be both regular and repetitive. This avoids the risk of the “oh but I didn’t know!” type reaction.

Make it personal

And relevant. Without creating personalised plans for employees affected by change, there is no way they can prepare for it. A common scenario for change managers is the transition from manual processes into greater use of technology and automation. In this case, the change occurring for the employee is not an absence of task - but learning how to integrate the new technology.

Specific outlines of what processes will be different, and where they will occur, is a crucial step in managing even the smallest of organisational changes. Ensuring staff affected by the change have been trained on the new processes or technology and importantly, where to go to help should they need it, is crucial to a successful implementation.

And let’s not forget customers need change management too. With the introduction of supermarket self checkouts, customers have been ‘trained’ on how to use the new technology. Change will potentially affect each stakeholder in an organisation in different ways, so being able to clearly communicate what this will look like, is where the real success lies.

Data is your friend

A common belief is that communications is at the core of successful change management. And indeed it is critical, but it’s only one part of the machine.

The reality is, the core of successful change management is data. In the traditional sense, data is everything from a company's financial information, IP and employee records, but it’s also understanding the way information travels within an organisation. Prior to an organisational change, both types of data must be understood. In the common case of shifting from a server to the cloud, recognising exactly how your data is stored, and how will it differ when undergoing change, is paramount to a smooth transition.

On an interpersonal level, knowing and understanding the exchange of data throughout a company is the make or break of change. For 20 employees, what appears to be a minor shift in process, may also affect the 500 employees reporting to them - and those 500 employees may be customer facing.

Understanding the way information travels is key to ensuring all stakeholders, especially customers, can undergo changes seamlessly.