5 Keys to Effective Change Management

November 21, 2023
 min read
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No matter what industry you’re in, change is inevitable. Whether it’s changes in the market, changes in staffing, or adjusting to new technologies or software, effectively managing change can be challenging. 

As a leader, you have a lot on your back when change happens in your organization. You want to keep your employees happy, your customers satisfied, and your business running smoothly. In order to do so, you need an effective change management strategy.

Change management is a process that helps leaders successfully navigate and implement changes within their organization’s new processes or systems.

In this article, we’ll discuss the 5 keys to effectively managing change supported by expert insights from Peyton Paulson, who has embraced change management in the engineering and manufacturing world.

Key #1: Planning

The first step towards navigating change in your organization is planning. The planning period is critical to a successful transition, so you’ll really want to nail this part of the process.

Whether you’re adopting a new software or adjusting to a shift in the market, you need to define the scope of the change, determine the timeline, and create an action plan.

Defining the scope of the change requires an assessment of your current business processes, tools, and departmental affairs. To make this part of the process as easy as possible, we recommend downloading our free Workflow Analysis Guide. This 4-step guide allows you to gain a thorough understanding of your processes and where to improve them.

If you’re implementing new technology, this guide will allow you to identify all of the tools you’re using to determine what could be automated or eliminated by your new software. Alternatively, you can skip this part of the process by requesting a free process review from one of our team members.

Once you’ve defined the scope of the change, you’ll need to create a timeline and an action plan based on your analysis insights. You’ll want to define deadlines and take into consideration any delays that may affect the timeline. When creating an action plan, be sure to identify who is responsible for what in the change management process. 

Peyton’s Expert Tips: A successful plan relies closely on your initial ability to define your change scope or problem at hand. It is important to remember that defining your scope or problem is an iterative process. It is better to go back and modify your scope or problem early on in the process. It may sound silly, but always recall the 5 W’s you learned in school: Who, What, When, Where, and most importantly, WHY. This will help you tremendously when you move on to the next key step, communicating your plan.

Key #2: Communication

Communication is the second step towards an effective transition. This part of the process requires transparency, asking for feedback, and addressing any concerns with all involved team members or departments. 

First you need to define a channel of communication. Choose a place where all stakeholders can effectively communicate in a centralized, organized, documented manner. 

Once a channel has been established, you’ll want to make it clear that the change management process involves two-way communication.

As a leader, you’ll want to remain transparent about the changes occurring, communicate needs, and assign tasks to your team.

You’ll also want to encourage feedback and opinions from them. Document their feedback and use it to make decisions that promote the greater good of the organization.

Peyton’s Expert Tips: Multimodal forms of communication may be necessary to ensure your message is received and processed by all intended audience members. Typically it is recommended to start with a formal written communication and move towards face-to-face two-way conversation next; however, you may need to adjust your form of communication to different audience types. Communicating your plan and engaging with your team members during the communication phase is crucial in creating desire and buy-in from your team. 

Key #3: Engagement

This part of the process goes hand-in-hand with communication. Engaging your team members when there is change in your organization is critical.

Because a majority of people are naturally resistant to change, you’ll want to include them in the process as much as you can to eliminate any fears or uncertainties that they might have. Loop them into meetings where it makes sense, remain transparent throughout the process, and provide support when doubts or concerns arise.

Peyton’s Expert Tips: Sometimes it can be difficult to engage all employees and stakeholders and make everyone happy. Focus on the vital few stakeholders that are crucial for success.

Key #4: Training

Any level of change requires new skills, updated knowledge, and a fresh perspective.

Your employees will have to adjust to change and it is your responsibility to ensure that they aren’t left to figure things out on their own.

If the change your organization is undergoing involves new technology, you’ll want to be sure that your team receives proper training to make the transition as easy as possible.

A lot of software companies are notorious for leaving their customers in the dark with little to no support once the initial setup is complete. To avoid this, do your research and read reviews from real customers before choosing any software.

Peyton’s Expert Tips: A key area that organizations fall short is the transition from knowledge to ability. Organizations say they don’t “have time” to train, and expect employees to learn on the job. This mindset is simply not sustainable in the long run. Effective training is the first step in empowering employees anytime a new expectation is desired. Sustainability of new knowledge gained is just as important as the initial training - be sure you have a training plan that allows for new hires to catch up to speed. Seasoned employees may also need a refresher course periodically.

Key #5: Measuring Progress

The final key to effective change management involves documenting the successes and the failures throughout the process. (Yes, this includes the good, the bad, and the ugly!)

Make this part of the process inclusive by inviting all affected stakeholders to participate in routine surveys, reviews, and feedback discussions.

Collecting insights from your team allows you to assess what is and isn't working to make data-driven decisions.

The easiest way to measure progress is to keep your data in a centralized place equipped with AI-powered dashboards where you can compare the results of any changes that have occurred. By doing so, you’ll also ensure that your data is reliable and up-to-date.

Peyton’s Expert Tips: Remember change is a constant in the world we live in! We can’t stop change, so we must embrace it. Feedback is a gift. Creating a visual scorecard that allows for structured review and feedback can help you optimize your management of change. We should move towards changing thoughts, feelings, and opinions to quantitative (numerical) data. The more we can quantify our progress, the better data-driven decisions we can make.

As with any change in an organization, there will always be hiccups. By following these 5 principles, you’re equipping yourself and your team to navigate changes with ease. 

If you’re struggling to manage change, our team is here to help. As always, we'll never try to sell you anything that we don’t think is a good fit for your business. With Vsimple, our dedicated Customer Success team works with you to make the implementation process as painless as possible.

Chat with a team member today to see how we’ve helped businesses like yours seamlessly transition to Vsimple.

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