This is the third blog in our Value Realization series. In the first one, we considered Why value realization matters. In the second, we look at lessons learned from Transforming a global business to focus on the entire journey by making customer success a central pillar of the business. In the fourth, Melissa Howe, Digital Product Manager at Marvin, discusses her experiences with scoping, implementing, and onboarding new technology — and what has been crucial for her and Marvin’s success.

Change management is a word thrown around a lot in business these days, but what does it really mean? Well in its simplest terms, change management is applied by helping individuals impacted by a transformation make a successful transition that enables them to engage, learn, and use a change within their organization. This may sound obvious, but people are the most important part of change management. Merging with another team/business, designing a new process, and implementing new technologies may never see their full potential if the organization doesn’t bring its people on the journey.

Managing the people side of a change is often the most challenging and critical component of organization transformation. Implementing change within any organization takes effort, time, and resources which often means, it never happens. But change management is important and here are some of the ways to make it happen:

1. Establish clear leadership and full management support

Having full buy-in from all levels of management to achieve top-down conversion and transformation is pivotal in coordinating the roll out of new procedures or systems to achieve real results. Most importantly, having consistency and vision during these transitions brings stability to everyone in the organization.

2. Build a change management vision and share the message

Not only do you need to have full support from the leaders within your organisation, you also need to have a vision for how you will institute the change and then have a plan for how to get the message out. Your vision for change within your organisation should answer two important questions:

  1. What is the overall change journey and goal? By communicating the overall vision and benefits of why you are making the change, organizations are able to get wide cooperation and even excitement about the adjustments. When teams understand how the change will happen and how their lives and jobs will be impacted, they can be better prepared for what is to come.
  2. What is the purpose of the change? Change management is almost always for the better. But it IS change after all, which is hard for some. So, when creating your change management vision and beginning to spread the word, be sure you are tackling the important questions like: why is this transformation necessary? How will it be rolled out? What are the benefits to the organisation and to your team or department?

3. Celebrate wins along the way

Large scale organizational transformation takes a long time, and the value recognized takes even longer. However, change management includes short term goals and wins which should be widely communicated and celebrated. These celebrations and recognitions will help with social proof throughout the organization ultimately inspiring others to get on board.

Regularly communicating the process of transformation and celebrating people’s active engagement are great ways to support the process. Highlighting small successes highlights the organization's transitional heroes. Every step of the overall change is important to reach the end goal.

4. Remember, this is about the people

Organizations don’t change, people do. By investing in change management, the collective impact of successful individual transformation brings about a successful organizational change. Individuals who make changes to their day-to-day work and processes will deliver results and value for their organization. Investing in change management highlights the importance of bringing each individual on the overall transformation journey.

5. Use change management as a tool to manage resistance to change

Successful change management will recognize employees as separate individuals with different motivations and ways of processing content. Without this, plans can meet resistance such as:

  • Lack of awareness of why the change was being made
  • Impact on current job role
  • Lack of visible support from and trust in management or leadership
  • Lack of inclusion in the change
  • Uncertainty of when old procedures or systems will be eliminated to make way for new ones

Incorporating these points into a change management plan can help to avoid the top causes of resistance within the organization and action can be taken to help employees move successfully through the overall process.

We hope this has offered some helpful tips for managing the people side of organizational change. If you're looking for more helpful advice, we suggest "Getting organizational buy-in for digital transformation."