Updated: Feb 22
Something new in your company ? Think change management !
"Change management ? Why should we manage change ? What we are going to implement will allow everyone to work in better conditions and in a simpler and more harmonious way!"
OK, you're right (well, I hope). But it's not because you are convinced that the rest of the world is too. What could happen if your employees do not adhere to your changes?
Someone could get in the way during your project? Yes it's possible
Some people may make sure your project does not succeed? Yes, there are chances
That a large part of your employees find a good excuse not to use your new tools / services / processes? Yes, most definitely
And that's exactly what you risk if you do not take change management seriously.
When you decide to implement new tools / services / processes in your business, expect strong feedback from your employees. Even if you are convinced that the changes you are going to implement will help the greatest number and allow them to "work better", your employees will only see the negative impacts they will have to absorb.
Something new? This translates into uncertainty and fear, it also means questioning yourself:
Source : https://bloculus.com/tag/deuil/
There are many models / methods that make it possible to implement a good change management. ADKAR, Kotter are examples. These models, like cooking recipes, give you the steps to succeed.
However, it is clear that, despite the use of proven cooking recipes, most of the time, change management does not really go as planned. What are the causes ? Rarely the same from one project to another. But there is often a constant: the underestimation of the impact of changes made by the company on its employees.
In order that this curve is as smooth as possible, that the change affects your employees as little as possible, you must follow a few steps. Steps that may seem really obvious. That's right, this recipe is not a new one. Each of these steps is almost "predictable". And yet ... The more you prepare your change management upstream, by omitting any of these steps, the less your project will be rejected by your employees.
What are these miracle steps:
1. Define the products / services for which you want to manage the change
It is true that this step flows naturally. But again ... And yet ...
It seems so obvious to everyone that we often do not even take the time to document.
This unfortunate oversight brings very unpleasant misunderstandings. "It seemed logical, though, that if we talk about a change on tool A it implies a change in process B which is necessarily impacted, right?" ... Hum ... Not sure it's so "logical" for everybody!
To remedy these "hiccups", this time must be taken to write an exhaustive list of products / services / processes that will impact users.
Once this list is ready, try to match with these different products / services the positive reasons that make you decided to integrate these tools or services into your company:
what are the benefits for users?
how is it going to make their life easier every day?
how will this novelty allow the company to be more efficient?
This list will be the basis for the rest of the recipe.
2. Define the target of your change management
When dealing with change management, often the first questions or ideas are related to the format of the communications that will be made and / or the timing of communication.
To go directly in this direction is a little "putting the cart before the horse".
Do not think that you can manage change for all your employees in the same way. In fact, there are as many ways to communicate as impacted people.
Don't stress, you don't need to make a communication plan by collaborator. On the other hand, putting everyone in the same basket is not the best idea either.
How to do ? Simply by studying your collaborators and classifying them into groups of people with similar characteristics. I'm not talking about their hair color or their dress style ...
Rather, the idea is to find similarities in how these groups will be impacted and / or how they will respond to changes.
In a word, you must create personas! I will explain in a future article how to proceed.
Once you have created these employee avatars, you must understand and document:
which product / service / process impacts which persona,
what avatars will be totally recalcitrant, those who can help you make the adoption of the novelties, those who will ask you the most work of adoption, ...
what is the personality type of each avatar, and therefore what is the best way to communicate with him,
Once this step is over, that's it ! you did most of the preparation and for most people the least fun part of the change management!
3. Define what is the best way to communicate for each pair persona / service.
Now that you have a list of personas and their characteristics, you need to determine what will be the best way to communicate with each of them:
Organize face-to-face training
Organize online training
Create informative videos
Communicate by email
Open an information desk
Provide paper brochures / flyers
Everything is possible and can be mixed at will.
For example, for people you have identified as needing reassurance, being face to face with a physical person, for example, will be more effective. The availability of face-to-face training or information booths will allow them to ask all the questions that distress them.
Another example, for people with less impact or needing less support, the creation of email campaigns or newsletter will be cheaper and still keep them informed.
The means you choose to implement will also depend on your budget and the available time you have before setting up your new services / products / processes.
4. Make a communication plan What is a communication plan? Just as you do a planning for the management of your projects, you must make a schedule of communications that you will do as part of your change management.
You must define the key milestones for your campaigns and define what type of communication will be launched for each of these milestones.
To make your life easier, at first you can create a communication plan for each persona. That is to say, for a given target, you have to explain what communication actions you have planned, their progress and their timing.
Once this is done, all you have to do is create the overall communication plan, which will include all persona communication plans. You can then adapt the different actions and see how to share some of them.
A visual presentation allows you to have at a glance a clear vision, for example (be careful it is not a communication plan but an example of what can be done graphically):
5. Define your budget
From my experience, most of the time, the budget available for change management is already included in the total budget allocated to the project. And unfortunately, you do not have much to say.
If this is not the case, you will be able, with the help of your communication plan, to define the budget that you will need to carry out all the actions you have planned.
However, if you are "limited" by a predefined budget, rather than cutting in the actions you want to achieve, I advise you to carry out collaborative workshops to find innovative ideas to achieve these actions at lower cost.
6. Define KPIs
To find out if your change management is working well, you must have key indicators. These indicators must be measured even before launching any communication campaign.
For example :
Do your collaborators have an idea of the upcoming changes?
How do they perceive the changes that are coming?
Are these changes positive or negative for them?
The idea is then to measure progressively these same indicators and see their evolution during your campaigns. This will allow you to answer the following questions:
are your communications campaigns relevant?
are they well perceived by your employees?
how could we do "better"?
7. Find providers to perform the steps of the management plan change
Once everything is ready (well almost), you just have to launch the communication plan that you have created ... All right, but who will carry out the actions you have planned?
You have 3 options:
1. You have the skills and availability internally. It's really classy! So let's go ! 2. You have skills and / or availability only for certain activities.
Before you start looking for external partners, check with your collaborators (even those who have never been identified for this type of activity) to see if some of them could not perform certain tasks: who can be better ambassadors than your own colleagues ???
You really do not find? Then contact several potential partners by telling them about your needs (your communication plan). See how they challenge your work. They can find an oversight or an error in your plan. Any advice is good to take before you start!
3. You don't have the skills internally. That's a shame ... But are you really sure? As for point 2, try to see if you would not have gems hidden among your collaborators. If you can't find anyone, then you will need to find help outside your company. See point 2.
My tip: meet and compare several providers. Do not sign with a team that has not convinced you 100% ... another tip that is obvious ^_^ But again, in my experience, it's often the cheapest provider which is chosen, even if he did not convince. And we all know where that leads us...
Another tip: If you can not find the ideal external provider. Why not mix multiple partners by choosing the best of them for each type of activity?
8. Run your campaigns
That's it, you can get started, you have all the cards in your hands:
The processes / products / services that will impact your employees
The different targets of your change management
How you need to communicate with these targets
The overall communication plan and a plan by target
Indicators (with measures before launching your change management)
People (internal and / or external) who will carry out the different actions defined in your communication plan.
You just have to rely on your communication plan to carry out the actions you have defined with the greatest care!
Do not forget to collect feedback from your employees to find out if everything is going as planned. If this is not the case, you have every interest to correct the shot as soon as possible and readjust your communications plans!
Long live the continuous improvement!
There is no point in wanting to throw in the search for means or content to communicate until you have identified your collaborators and how they are impacted by your changes.
All your employees are not identical: some are more resistant than others to change. To succeed in your change management, you must apply different communication plans according to your groups of collaborators: use the personas for that.
Simplicity and pragmatism = efficiency. There is no point in using a monstrous budget for your change management (in creating videos or marketing campaigns) if your employees are just looking for human contacts: sessions or information desks will be sufficient.
To be able to measure the effectiveness of your change management, consider setting up indicators: regularly survey your employees in order to know their state of mind and their expectations on the subject that concerns you.
You do not have qualified staff internally to create your communications campaigns (are you really sure?) Or they are already busy? Delegate this task to external providers who are familiar with the subject. It is better to plan a little less grandiose, but of better quality!
Use Deming's wheel to improve your communication campaigns as you go: Collect feedback from your employees, analyze them, and get things right for the next steps of your communication plan.
I hope you liked this article and I would be happy to discuss it with you. Leave me your comments and I will answer you as soon as possible.