Five tips for: Succeeding in change management From the "Five tips" tutorial series
During the summer of 2009, Prosci will be releasing a number of "Five
tips" tutorials. These tutorials will provide simple, actionable steps
to improving change management application. Each tutorial will focus on a
particular element of change management, including:
• Five tips
for: Succeeding in change management
• Five tips for: Sizing your
change management efforts
• Five tips for: Better communications
Five tips for: Managing resistance
• Take the survey at the end of
this tutorial to
let us know which tips you are most interested
reading more about
The first "Five tips" tutorial looks at being
successful in change management. The tips come directly from
practitioner experience and benchmarking data from Prosci's six
benchmarking studies conducted over the last 12 years (Note: the 2009
edition of Best Practices in Change Management will be released this
Five tips for: Succeeding in change management
2. Apply structure
3. Customize your approach
Engage employee-facing players
5. Focus on the individual
Change management is most effective when it begins at
the initiation of a project. Participants from both the 2007 and 2009
benchmarking studies indicate a significant preference toward starting
change management at project initiation, although many do not find
themselves in that situation. The graph below shows that over 80% of
participants in the 2009 study said that change management should be
started at project initiation, while only one-third of participants were
actually starting that early.
The advantages that come from
starting change management at the beginning of a project are numerous,
• It is applied proactively - When change management
begins at project initiation, it plays a more robust and holistic role.
It is not simply a tool for reacting to problems and issues that arise,
it becomes a tool to activate employees. Anticipated points of
resistance and likely objections can be identified and addressed before
they negatively impact the project. Communication efforts can be
strategically crafted and launched as soon as the project starts to
provide a steady, timely and orchestrated flow of information tailored
by audience group. And senior leaders can begin demonstrating their
support and participating actively and visibly from the very beginning.
It can drive enthusiasm and engagement - Projects are most successful
when employees are ready for and actively engaged in the change. When
change management is applied from the start of the change effort,
employees are more likely to be on board when the "go live" point
arrives. Instead of waiting for push back, change management can be a
tool to catalyze passion and enthusiasm.
• It can be integrated in
the project plan - Projects utilizing a single, holistic project plan
that incorporates both the technical aspects and the people side aspects
(through change management) are most effective. When activities are
sequenced and integrated, project teams and change management can work
together more effectively.
• It can surface underlying project
issues - By bringing a focus on the people side of change early in the
project, better design decisions can be made by the project team.
Employee participation and feedback results in a better solution that
delivers on both the technical and people side fronts.
addition, there are a number of consequences when change management
starts late on a project. Unfortunately this happens too often, but
learning from these experiences and benchmarking data can result in
improved application. Some of the consequences of starting late
highlighted by 2009 study participants included:
• Higher levels of
resistance and lower engagement by employees
• Change management
activities were limited and ineffective
• Time was wasted playing
• Change management was poorly positioned
required by the project team as people side issues were identified
start change management early in a project, work to sell change
management to both senior leaders and project leaders by connecting
change management to what they care about - meeting project objectives
on time and on budget. There is a growing body of data showing the
benefits of change management and a direct correlation between effective
change management and meeting project objectives (read more in the Data
on the impact of effective change management tutorial and the
Cost-benefit analysis for change management tutorial).
Change management should not be ad hoc. It is not effective
when it is just a communication plan or training plan developed in
isolation or without an overarching strategy. Change management is most
effective when if follows a structured approach. In the 2009
benchmarking study, 60% of participants reported following a particular
methodology, up from only one third of participants in the 2003 study.
In addition, the use of a structured approach has been in the list of
top five contributors to success in each of the last four studies since
2003 - landing in the number 4 spot in the 2009 edition of the study.
advantages of following a structured approach to change management
• Ensures that you don't miss key steps - Following a
structured methodology helps practitioners cover all of the critical
aspects of managing change, from assessing change readiness to
reinforcing change. Prosci's 3-phase methodology walks users through
Preparing for change, Managing change and Reinforcing change with
research-based templates and assessments at each step. By applying a
structured process, you can avoid the mistakes others have made and
avoid overlooking key steps.
• Makes you more efficient and
effective - There is no need to "reinvent the wheel" when it comes to
managing change. The use of a structured methodology, based on best
practices, allows you to focus your efforts where they need to be
focused - on the specific situation and details of the change you are
• Lets you draw on the experience of others - Using a
methodology based on a wide body of knowledge makes your more effective.
Structured methodologies, like Prosci's 3-phase process, incorporate
what works and what has not worked for other change practitioners. With a
structured approach, you are benefiting from the experience of previous
change managers making you more effective.
• Earns credibility
for "change management" - Change management itself carries with it
particular baggage - for instance, being viewed as the "soft" or "fuzzy"
side of change. The more structured and formalized the process for
dealing with the people side of change, the more credibility your work
will have with others in the organization - particularly the technically
focused workers or project mangers.
3. Customize your approach
"one-size-fits-all" approach for change management is not effective.
Each change effort is unique; and the people side of that change should
be managed with a customized approach. Customizing the change management
approach requires a solid "situational awareness" - an understanding of
what this change means and who will be impacted by it. Part of building
the situational awareness is tied to really understanding the change at
hand. Is it a process change? A system or technology change? Will job
roles be impacted? How broadly will the change have impact across the
organization? How dramatic will the impacts be? The other side of
situational awareness is understanding the groups that are being
impacted and the background of the change. How does the organization's
culture impact this change? What is the history of change? How competent
is the organization - and different employee groups within the
organization - at leading change?
In the first phase of Prosci's
methodology - Preparing for change - a series of assessments help make
sense of the unique change. Assessments include an examination of the
change itself (the Change characteristics assessment) and an evaluation
of the groups being impacted (the Organizational attributes assessment).
In addition, the Impact Index tool allows for the identification of
different groups being impacted by the change and the amount of change
each will experience.
Customizing the change management approach
through assessment and scaling efforts up front enables change
management to be targeted and focused. Based on the particular
situation, the "right" change management team structure can be selected.
The change itself dictates the sponsorship that will be required and
the appropriate sponsor coalition needed to drive the change forward.
Change management plans - like the communication plan, the coaching plan
and the resistance management plan - are developed in a way that truly
reflect and address the unique change and the challenges that will be
4. Engage employee-facing players
indicates that there are two groups that employees want to hear from in
times of change. Employees want to hear about the business reasons for
change - why the change is happening, risks of not changing, customer
and competitor issues driving the change - from someone at the top. They
want to hear about the personal implications for them and their team
from the person that they report to. This means that the "voice of
change" to the organization are the executives, senior managers, middle
managers and supervisors throughout the organization. These
"employee-facing" players are shown at the top of the roles in change
management model below.
only do these employee-facing players play a key role in communicating
about change, they must also be active participants in managing change.
Senior leaders must build coalitions of support and manage resistance
from other managers. They also must remain visible and active throughout
the project. Middle managers and supervisors play a number of roles in
directly interacting with the employees who ultimately bring a change to
Change management team members or resources play a central
role in enabling these employee-facing players - providing guidance and
coaching and ensuring that they fulfill their role. See the Roles in
change management tutorial for a more in-depth discussion of these five
5. Focus on the individual
Change management is a tool to
accelerate the adoption of change by individuals in an organization.
The logic flow below shows why the individual is so important:
Organizational change is successful when it moves the organization from a
current state to a new future state.
• The future state for the
organization is only achieved when individuals make changes to their
processes and behaviors.
• When individuals make a successful
transition from their own current state to their own future state, the
project is successful and the organization sees the improvement the
project set out to create.
• Change management, then, is the process
and tools for moving individuals successfully to their personal future
state so the project is successful.
Said another way - organizations
don't change, individuals within organizations change. It is easy for
project teams and even change management teams to become focused on the
work that they are doing - scoping a project, determining resource
needs, creating a work breakdown structure, conducting readiness
assessments, crafting a communication plan. While these activities are
important, one must never lose sight of what truly drives success -
individuals adopting a new way of doing their work. Prosci keeps the
focus on the individual through the ADKAR® Model. The ADKAR Model
describes the five building blocks of success - Awareness, Desire,
Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. It provides an outcome orientation
to change management work. While the tool used might be communication
or training or coaching, the outcomes required for successful change
• Awareness - I know why the change is needed
• Desire -
I've made the personal decision to participate and support the change
Knowledge - I know how to change and what to do after the change is in
• Ability - I can demonstrate the skills and behaviors required
by the change
• Reinforcement - I believe there are factors in place
so the change will be sustained
Bringing about change within a
social environment with human beings requires an understanding of how
one person makes a change successfully. This is the foundation of
successful change management application - whether the change is an
incremental improvement for small workgroup or a dramatic disruption to
how an entire enterprise operates. Keeping a focus on the individual as
the centerpiece of successful change helps change management
practitioners to be successful and ultimately deliver value to the
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