By: Kyle Michel, Analyst
A change management initiative can be a daunting task. Anyone who has undertaken one can vouch for this. Understanding the stages of change management and the strategies needed to move people through them can make the difference between success and failure. Every change initiative boils down to a company’s ability to shift its employees from a state of resistance (or denial) into one of acceptance. One way of understanding this is by the ABCs of change management: Awareness, Belief, and Commitment.
At the most basic level, awareness ensures that everyone affected by the change (i.e., change participants) is made aware of the transformation. If change participants are not made aware, then successful change becomes impossible. To be successful, you must make change participants aware of:
1) When the change is happening (and if it will happen in stages)
2) Who the change is being implemented by
3) Where the change is happening (if relevant)
4) And, most importantly, why the change is happening
Awareness of the change is good, but an organization cannot effectively implement an enduring change if people do not believe in it. Belief is about much more than believing that the change is happening (though this is fundamental)—it is also about convincing participants that the change is:
1) Good for them
2) Good for the group
3) Made by people who are qualified and have the participants’ interests at heart
If people believe these, then the change is set up to have a long-lasting impact.
This is the end goal of change management. If change participants are aware of the change and believe that it is beneficial, then they can commit to the change to ensure it has an enduring and positive effect on the group. Awareness and belief are necessary precursors to commitment.
Acting on the ABCs
You may be curious about how you can successfully implement the ABCs into your own change management initiative. Achieving the ABCs requires:
Communication: Clear, continual, and consistent communication is key. The change should be announced in simple and clear terms and followed up with continual and factually consistent communication, be it through:
1) Regular email reminders
2) A notice on the news board
3) Announcements in weekly meetings
4) Another impactful form of information delivery.
Without this, it is easy for participants to revert to old habits. One useful tactic is to explain why the change is occurring and how it is helpful. Employees find it easier to accept change if their leadership explains why it is happening and how it can help them.
Sponsorship: Studies have shown that visible and active sponsorship is a primary success factor for implementing a change. A sponsor’s role is to support the change program. This individual can do so by:
1) Demonstrating visible support for the change
2) Reinforcing desired behaviors while addressing any counterproductive habits
3) Holding people accountable for the change
4) Inspiring and motivating change in the change participants
Designating either an individual or a group of people who can quickly move through the ABCs as sponsors is a practical and vital tactic for moving others through the process.
Employee Engagement: Engagement is about providing change participants with the tools, resources, and training they need to buy into the change before it is imposed upon them. This involves:
1) Training employees on how to use new systems before they are implemented
2) Interactive town halls
3) Being available for questions as needed
Preparing employees before a change can make the difference between a smooth move through the ABCs and a rough ride that ends with unhappy employees and a non-functional process.
Change management is no simple task, one which will likely lead nowhere if performed without care and attention. Contact us today to start creating your plan for a successful change initiative.