The path to managing change starts with building a culture that embraces the need for change and then developing change-ready leaders and teams. The final but perhaps most definitive step is to build a sustainable process for execution, measurement and improvement of change initiatives.

Preparing for change execution

Different companies take different approaches in optimizing for change management success, but most start with embedding change into organizational culture. By creating a vision that embraces change, organizations can start cultivating an environment where people are not only aligned with the success of the organization but that of each other. Leadership comes in by communicating this new strategic vision and drives the mandate down to managers and teams. Managers then become the change agents by understanding their team members’ adaptability to change and coming up necessary interventions to augment individual capability where needed.

The execution framework

To effectively execute on change management initiatives, most companies rely on a structured change management framework that starts with defining goals and ends with a feedback loop.

Leadership sets very specific change management goals and include clearly defined initiatives. For instance, a transformation goal could be to change into a more customer-friendly organization. One initiative within the sales function towards achieving this could be to embrace a more consultative sales approach in place of traditional prospecting.

After assessing teams and individuals for adaptability to change and identifying competency gaps that exist, necessary investments are made in customized interventions (special training or workshops) to build the necessary skills inside the organization to manage change.

For each change initiative, it’s critical to employ the right people in the right roles. The next step is to manage the effective planning of any redeployment, relocation or release of team members that lack the right skills and competencies.

Managers then map out the processes and work activities that need changing, and evaluate if any new systems or tools are needed to execute on these. An assessment of risks and impact of these planned changes is undertaken and mitigating measures are identified where needed.

Effectiveness of changes is monitored via a range of performance measures, reported to project sponsors on a periodic basis. This creates a mechanism which ensures that opportunities for further improvement are identified easily and in a timely manner.

An important but often neglected next step is rewarding effective leaders and practitioners for success. This reinforces the process integrating change into core work culture.

The final step is to enable an infrastructure to share knowledge about what works and what doesn’t, rounding off the feedback loop that measures and reports effectiveness all the way from executives to employees for each new project.

Photo credit: Daniel*1977 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

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