Change is inevitable.
As organisations grow and industries evolve, companies need to adapt to stay profitable.
In 2015, McKinsey compiled a report. This report ranked 1,000 organisations on the Organisational Health Index. According to it, companies that could find the balance between speed and stability performed the best.
In other words, organisations that could manage fast changes were best placed to come out on top in their respective fields.
Not every organisation might be well-placed to be agile, though. For example, large, legacy organisations, such as banks with operational silos can find transitions really hard.
Change management tools are meant to handle two crucial aspects of any transition: Assessing the impact of change & Assessing the readiness for change
Assessing the Impact of Change
When you make transformational changes in an organisation, such as implementing a new ERP system, the impact of it goes right down to the individual level. Transformational changes can give rise to fears of job security, for instance, which can render changes ineffective. Measuring the impact of any change is important for employee confidence. Any organisation is made up of individuals and if they do not join you on the path to change, it can become impossible to reach the end goal.
For a pan-organisation assessment of change impact, consider these 10 aspects and how they will be affected by the changes you propose to bring:
- Systems: People and technology, such as software applications, together make a system that is designed to meet objectives. For example, an ERP software meant to increase efficiency.
- Processes: These are the steps taken within a system to achieve the said objectives. For example, steps involved in patient admissions in the case of ERP in a hospital.
- Tools: They are physical or web-based objects needed to achieve specific tasks within a process.
- Job responsibilities: A thorough description of roles and responsibilities of a person, and the importance of those roles.
- Reporting structure: The hierarchical structure of the organisation, including who reports to whom.
- Compensation: Monetary and non-monetary benefits given in return for work done.
- Performance reviews: The processes in place for how performance is assessed vis-a-vis defined objectives.
- Critical behaviours: Response of an individual or a group of individuals to a stimulus, such as tight deadlines.
- Mindsets and beliefs: The usual disposition of individuals within the organisation, including their political beliefs.
- Location: A physical location that has the tools in place to achieve certain objectives.
As an example, let’s say you plan to implement a new cloud-based CRM solution in your organisation. Your sales and marketing team will be directly impacted by this change. If you didn’t have a CRM software in place before, the new deployment might mean extra responsibilities for your marketing team, such as fetching reports from the software. It can also mean changes in the reporting structure, since you might have to bring a manager in who is adept at using CRM systems.
A thorough assessment of these 10 aspects helps you find out the individuals who will be most impacted by the change. You can then start to have a dialogue with them and allay their concerns for a smoother transition.
Assessing Readiness for Change
Measuring readiness for change in an organisation goes hand-in-hand with assessing change impact. Measuring impact gives you a sense of the number of people that will be impacted, the scope of change, and how processes might differ. Measuring readiness, on the other hand, takes into account leadership styles, experiences from past changes, and the work culture to gauge how ready you are for the change.
Assessing readiness for change helps you with:
- Figuring out a change management model, such as, if you want to bring in third-party experts
- Deciding size of the change management team
- Identifying likely obstacles
Factors such as past experiences, leadership styles, and current competencies help you assess the readiness at the organisational level. However, it is equally important to assess readiness at the individual level, just as was the case with impact assessment. Employees should be encouraged to share their perceptions on:
- The organisation’s readiness for the change
- Their personal readiness for the change
- Their evaluation of the proposed change, itself
6 Essential Change Management Tools
When you are assessing change impact and readiness for change, you are dealing with complex processes and systems. More so, you are dealing with humans, who can be incredibly complex. Thankfully, there are tools that help you make the process as systematic as possible. There is no one set of tools, though, that can be prescribed for every organisation. Each enterprise is different and needs a customised approach. However, here are 6 change management tools that are essential in any change management team’s arsenal.
Think of flowcharts as data visualisation. They are used to visualise the current processes and systems you have in place. When you are assessing impact, add or delete steps in the flowchart according to how processes might change. This helps you see, at a glance, how your current systems are likely to change.
For flowcharting to be useful, it is important to have managers come up with their individual interpretations of current organisational processes. It is not surprising to find wildly different interpretations from individuals, which need to be resolved. There needs to be a coherent understanding of processes before deploying new tools.
Culture maps are used to visualise the company culture. They are used to unearth information such as values that influence decision-making in an organisation. They can also be useful to identify positive forces in the workplace and the cultural risks you need to mitigate for a smooth transition.
Spot subcultures in your enterprise. These subcultures could be on the the basis of departments, job roles, or even political beliefs. Interview individuals from these subgroups to pinpoint factors that act as enablers and blockers of change.
Force Field Analysis
In any organisation, there will be forces that support and oppose the proposed change. These forces could be external, too. For example, the political environment of a region. Force field analysis is used to identify factors that aid and impede the change. In that sense, it is similar to culture mapping, except, culture mapping mostly deals with behavioural impediments.
Factors such as geography, job roles, occupation, and income govern how much or how little an individual will be impacted by a change. Stakeholder analysis is helpful in identifying the groups that will be most impacted by the change; in other words, your key stakeholders. Make sure to include individuals that sit outside your organisation, such as freelancers and vendors. Careful stakeholder analysis helps you identify groups that you need to reach out the most.
Often, conflict is seen as personality clashes. However, for fast and efficient change, it is important to keep conversations centered around goals and objectives. Effective conflict management involves keeping conversations focussed on how decisions are reached. When a change is proposed, conflict can arise:
- On the goals or objectives
- On how the objectives are achieved
For example, an organisation may propose expansion into new territories in order to spur growth. If certain sections in the organisation do not agree with this growth strategy, conflict management initiates a dialogue around the disagreement. Sometimes, the resolution might lie in having the disagreeing group fall in line, depending on who owns the decision.
Similarly, everyone might agree on the need to expand to new territories. However, they might not agree on the proposed territories. Such cases can be easier, since there is overall agreement on the proposed strategy.
Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model
Dr. John Kotter is a thought leader in change management. He came up with the 8-step change model, based on his observations of leaders and organisations. The 8-step change model involves:
- Creating urgency: Communicate the need for change to others. Here, a SWOT analysis of the market conditions or the industry can be super helpful in coming up with an aspirational statement.
- Build a guiding coalition: Put together a team of experts and influential people who can guide the change, and convince others of the same.
- Form a strategic vision: Communicate your vision clearly and the necessity for the change. Associate values to the proposed change and outline a strategy to achieve the change.
- Gather a volunteer army: Get people to rally behind your cause.
- Remove barriers to enable change: Identify obstacles in the course of change. Incentivising people to adopt change is one way to remove the barriers.
- Create short-term wins: Short-term wins keep employees motivated and on course to the ultimate goal.
- Build on successes: Once you have tasted victory, keep the momentum going. Use the advantage of success to implement more successful changes.
- Make changes a part of your culture: When you achieve a change successfully, make it a part of your organisational culture.
The six tools given above are the foundation of effective change management. Successful change managers deploy a bevy of tools for smooth transitions. In fact, the most successful change managers out there aren’t afraid to try new ideas and techniques, depending on the circumstances they are faced with. Improvisation is a part and parcel of change management, and staying agile can pay rich dividends.