Tips for Effective Change Management

Successful change management requires thoughtful planning and sensitive implementation, and above all, consultation with, and involvement of, the people affected by the changes.

A desire to see change implemented quickly can often lead to insufficient consultation with those who will be most affected by the change and staff issues can arise preventing successful change from taking place.

The following tips will help you to ensure that your change initiatives achieve their objectives.
Sustainable change should be realistic, achievable and measurable.  Before starting organisational change, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do we want to achieve with this change, why, and how will we know that the change has been achieved?
  • Who will be affected by this change, and how might they react to it?
  • How much of this change can we achieve ourselves, and what parts of the change do we need help with?

Don’t allow obstacles to block the vision and don’t underestimate the power of vision. But remember it will need to be regularly and appropriately communicated.

Before the change process can occur, there must be a ‘felt need for change” by key leaders in the organisation to stir the organisation out of complacency. Ensure key managers are with you on the change message and that they accept responsibility for leading cultural change within their departments and for maintaining momentum for the change.

During periods of change communication needs to function to a very high standard. Consider the extent to which you are communicating with the wider organisation?

  • How purposeful is it?
  • How clear are the objectives when communicating downwards, upwards, across the organisation and externally?
  • How well are you achieving a balance between what, why and how? Do people understand the ‘Why’ – the need for the change as well as the ‘What’ – what the change will involve.

Think about how you can help people to understand how the change will affect them personally. (If you don’t help with this process, people will make up their own stories, usually more negative than the truth.) Treat people with humanity and respect and they will reciprocate.

Do not sell change to people as a way of accelerating ‘agreement’ and implementation. ‘Selling’ change to people is not a sustainable strategy for success. Instead, change needs to be understood and managed in a way that people can cope effectively with it.

Be mindful that the chief insecurity of most staff is change itself.  Senior managers and directors responsible for managing organisational change do not, as a rule, fear change – they generally thrive on it. So remember that staff may not relish change, they may find it threatening and fear a loss of status, influence or autonomy.

Encourage feedback. Create forums where staff can ask questions and discuss their concerns. It is better to have concerns out in the open than festering away and building passive resistance.

Communicate consistently, frequently, and through multiple channels, including speaking, writing, video, training, focus groups, bulletin boards and Intranet. Think about the informal opportunities to communicate that arise during the day and make use of them to share ideas and get feedback.

Ensure all sensitive aspects of organisational change management are conducted face-to-face. Encourage your managers to communicate face-to-face with their people too. Don’t rely on email and written notices, they are extremely weak at conveying and developing understanding and are open to misinterpretation.

For organisational change that entails new actions, objectives and processes for a group or team of people, use workshops to achieve understanding, involvement, plans, measurable aims, actions and commitment.

Publicly acknowledge when people make changes in behaviour and attitude that leads to the success of the change initiative. Make the connections between their behaviour and the changes. Celebrate each small win publicly.