How To Write an Effective Change Management Strategy
Updated July 11, 2023
Change management is leading individuals, teams and entire companies through organizational change. Business processes, employee behavior, technology and the company's culture all can play a critical role in the success of the upcoming change. Understanding change management can help you create a more effective change management strategy.
In this article, we explain what it takes to implement an organizational change management strategy effectively.
What is a change management strategy?
A change management strategy is an outline or plan for how a business implements specific methods for addressing key changes to the processes within the organization. When you apply a change management strategy to initiate a transition, you can positively impact how these changes are carried out. For instance, a company may initiate a transition plan that encompasses changes in inventory requirements, scheduling, project scope, supply chain or customer-centric areas of business.
Why a change management strategy is essential
Creating a change management strategy is important because it provides a direction and purpose for other aspects of change management. This includes reasons why changes occur within an organization, how the organization handles the change and the unique position a specific change creates. By outlining a strategy, an organization and its partners can all prepare for a change before it occurs.
Key components of a change management strategy
There are several key components of a change management strategy:
Planning is when you set out to determine what results you want from a change and how you can introduce it to your colleagues. Here, you can create a detailed outline of what changes you want and how to make those changes effective within the organization.
Transparency is important when changes occur since it allows everyone to have the information they need for success. Keeping information from colleagues and employees can cause rumors to spread faster than your ability to explain the actual details of a change, so being transparent about the changes is more beneficial.
Similar to transparency, communication is critical for change management strategies. Explaining the change process well ensures everyone understands their involvement and how they can make the changes more effective.
It's essential to consider who a change involves so you can include them in deciding how it occurs and the outcomes it achieves. This is true for any change and can increase the morale of those involved and encourage the change more effectively.
How to implement effective change management strategies
If you're initiating a change or transition within an organization, consider the following steps to implement a successful change management strategy:
1. Demonstrate leadership
When incorporating change management, one important aspect is starting at the top levels of the company. While it's important to include employees at all job levels early in the change management process, initiating change with C-suite members, vice presidents and other executives first can ensure all supervising staff is aligned.
2. Plan carefully
With the engagement of leadership, the company can help to create a plan by carefully considering different available options. Careful planning ensures all factors are considered and can create a more effective change management strategy.
3. Incorporate existing company culture
When initiating organizational management plans, be sure to take into account the existing company culture. Oftentimes, business executives might focus on initiating change management as a means to retire the current culture in favor of new transitions. They also might focus solely on functional details such as reporting, sourcing funding, decision-making responsibilities and the formal business processes within the company. While these assessment/refinement areas might be necessary in your change management strategy, ultimately, the team members are responsible for embracing and implementing the changes.
Evaluating your current company culture's importance can allow for more successful management during the transition. For example, team members who are in direct contact with customers may have actionable and relevant suggestions during the change process. They know the culture and are performing the daily actions necessary to run the business. By recognizing and discussing the effects of the changes being made with all who are connected to and invested in the company, you can increase the likelihood of teams continuing to work toward the organization's goals.
4. Involve all roles
When planning your change management initiation, it can be critical to involve every role in the change process. Consider those who are crucial to the performance of the organization, such as customer service reps, project managers and production line technicians. These employees can hugely influence the success of your change management initiatives, as they can provide input about challenges affecting their jobs. Additionally, these team members can be indispensable during your change initiative by helping to encourage a smooth transition.
5. Use rational and emotive approaches
When initiating change management, consider all aspects of the business processes. Sometimes companies focus on strict business objectives, like expanding market reach or increasing profit-margin percentages. While these are critical areas to examine, evaluating the emotive aspects of change implementation can be equally as effective. Consider distributing a staff survey to gather information on how the plans for change affect everyone involved such as executives, staff, customers and clients.
Another important strategy for successful change management is effective communication. You might discuss the company's change management initiative with the sales and marketing team to determine which marketing strategies and sales funnels are effective and ineffective and how the overall transitions affect current models. Similarly, you may set weekly team reviews to discuss progress in implementing the organization's plans. Not only can effective communication help ensure the proper execution of your change management plans, but communicating consistently with people at the forefront of the organization may be the most direct way of assessing how you're meeting the company's final goals.
6. Focus on key behaviors critical to change initiation
Just as focusing on key business processes and objectives is important for successful change management, addressing actions and behaviors that are critical to a smooth transition is also crucial. For instance, you might set a productivity objective, such as only providing products that have passed quality standards. If the production teams continue behaviors that result in low-quality products, your change management plan might also focus on key actions teams can take to ensure all products shipped out meet or exceed quality standards.
7. Engage your brand ambassadors
Typically, organizations use brand ambassadors to influence and create awareness of their change management plans. Assigning loyal team members, clients or volunteers as brand ambassadors can benefit the organization by involving those who may have a high amount of influence within your target market. Team members who have been with the company for a long time can also offer valuable insight into how to implement key strategies for the transition, such as marketing, finance, employment, onboarding or project management strategies.
Related: How To Become a Brand Ambassador
8. Create holistic solutions
After getting key influencers, team members and staff involved in your change management plans, formulate objectives that help the company through the transition. It can be more difficult to motivate team members to change their habits surrounding the ways they completed their work before the change if development resources or improvement plans aren't redesigned to support new methodologies. For example, you might set new objectives to change the way your marketing firm reaches new clients, but without supporting team members in learning and implementing new customer-service strategies, you may not meet your goals.
Similar to creating new support systems and resources for staff development, creating informal solutions to adapt to change is equally as important. Consider redesigning incentive or bonus plans to encourage team engagement, or provide rewards for implementing the new behaviors. For example, if the organization aims to transition to a more customer-focused business, you can assess your staff's customer service skills, then appoint senior staff as mentors or trainers for new hires and junior staff. This may lead to offering an award-based system or bonus incentive to persuade key members to participate in the redesigned development plans.
Read more: 8 Change Management Tools for the Workplace
9. Evaluate and accommodate your change initiatives
The last step of an effective change management strategy is to evaluate the plan as the organization approaches its final transition goal. This can be ongoing to find out what's working and what isn't, and then adjust. For example, if you have implemented a change management strategy for transforming the business' mission, consider evaluating if the strategies you and your team members are incorporating are meeting objectives and reflecting this change.
If the company's mission is changing from product-oriented to customer-oriented, you might assess how newly designed survey systems or product-review systems are working via your marketing strategies. Implementing a successful change management strategy can be difficult, but following these steps helps you communicate effectively with all teams, assess key aspects of business processes and implement ways to adapt to even more changes.
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