The change management process is basically the sequence of activities or steps that an organization or project manager take to apply change management in order to successfully drive change, mitigate risks, and make sure the project meets its anticipated outcomes. For a successful change management effort, each individual part must participate. This includes planning, organizing, staffing, ensuring implementation, and controlling or eliminating any problems that might arise. One must not only be skilled in the application of change management principles and tools but also in leadership and organizational behavior as well. Achieving this result requires that the individuals involved are able to think critically, plan creatively, and implement their plans skillfully.
Change management begins with defining the overarching organizational goals and purpose. These are typically long-term vision statements. The underlying assumptions or concepts for these visions can be anything. However, these goals or purposes must be clearly stated so that all individuals and teams involved in the process to know what they are working towards. Communication regarding these goals and purposes is critical to the overall effectiveness of the management process.
Once these overarching organizational goals and purposes have been defined, the next step in the process involves creating a strategy for implementing changes. This strategy can describe how the changes will affect employees, resources, processes, and systems. It should include a communication plan outlining the best practices for getting started and maintaining the momentum achieved by the employees during the initial phase of the change management process.
Once the organization has a direction in which to go, the next step is to develop and implement a series of best practices that will result in the consistent application of the new technologies and procedures. Best practices can be described as a series of rules or guidelines on how to implement new technologies and best practices that employees have been using for years. Having a set of best practices allows projects to be successfully rolled out, regardless of budget or time constraints. Once the teams understand and document these best practices, they can easily apply them to their current projects and future projects without having to learn the entire process from scratch.
Developing employee communications is an integral part of the change process. Effective communication enables employees to understand the change and its implications. Employees must be made aware of the expectations of the change and provide flexibility when it comes to dealing with this change. For example, if some employees believe that they will only have access to certain information, like pre-defined pages in the company’s network or email boxes, other employees may need to be made aware of any additional information that they may need to have access to. Having employee communications in place can help solve some of the management challenges associated with these changes.
The second thing that usually makes a big impact is the shift from the “soft side” to the “hard side.” The “soft side” involves the day-to-day activities and responsibilities that an individual faces within the organization. Examples of the soft side include managing the work processes, updating the documentation, and communicating with staff and with customers. On the other hand, the “hard side” includes the change management activities, such as planning, scheduling, and working through change requests. It involves more difficult decisions, such as assigning tasks to people, creating change instructions for staff, reviewing change requests, documenting feedback, and communicating strategies for addressing change.
Both sides need to be included in the definition of the change management function. Effective managers understand that there is a strong link between the soft side and the hard side. They therefore create an environment where both groups are strongly represented in the same organization so that when critical decisions are made, people involved on both sides can address their concerns effectively.
The last component of the change management process refers to the organizational culture. Creating a culture of trust and confidence in employees and management alike is essential to the success of the change management process. Effective leaders encourage the people involved in the process to express their views, review the process, and learn from the experiences of others. This encourages employees to become engaged in building good customer relations and gives them a sense of ownership over the work that they do each day.