Leading and Managing Change in your organization – Your 8 step guide to ensuring success.
Dreaming about changing decades of Mainframe practices and worried about missing the train to the cloud? Feel like no one in your organization is interested in the mainframe enough or for that matter – moving it to the cloud? Feeling frustrated because no one is buying in on your great plan that will ultimately save your organization a lot of money? You finally began the process but are dealing with huge levels of resistance from within?
Well,the following article will attempt to explain the psychology of change management. Here are 8 easy steps to consider while leading change.
1. Identify the WHAT.
WHAT is it you want to improve or change in the process or infrastructure? Before embarking on this journey you need to be clear about what it is you want to change. Once you know what it is you are trying to improve it will be much easier to focus on it, plan it and finally, implement it successfully. Define the change in a clear and concise way. Try to break it down into SMART steps: Specific (S), Measurable (M), Attainable (A), Relevant (R), Time constrained (T).
2. Understand the WHO and the WHY.
Who are these processes’ main stakeholders? WHO are the main players and supporting actors? How could you make sure they are onboard with you on this process? What will they get out of it? Make sure you have identified, analyzed and provided the right explanation – Make sure you can explain WHY this change is in their best interest – Different stakeholders hold different interests and as such, research and prepare the WHY for each. Doing so will enable you to do the preparatory ground work prior to beginning the process – ensuring everyone who should be – will be ONBOARD. For example, tapping into the CIO’s best interests will vary significantly from the needs or interests of your fellow mainframe team members. The former will connect to cost savings, flexibility, or simplicity. The latter may connect to learning new things, broadening their horizons, or being perceived as innovative.
3. The HOW
Once you have identified WHAT it is you want to change, WHO you need to influence, and WHY the change is in their best interest – We have reached the HOW phase. Change needs to be well-planned. I would recommend putting together a roadmap describing where you are at right now, where you plan on going and what it will look like at the endpoint. Include scope, estimated costs and a step-by-step plan that will ultimately be easy to implement and follow. Refrain from implementing your plan without having the right lobby beforehand. Spend the time you need to to make sure everyone is onboard- it will save you much time later on when you have to tend to resistance further down the path.
4. Data is everything
Never underestimate the power of good data, and use of data in the process. People need to see concrete numbers. How much will this change save? When will we begin to see its effects? What are the short-term, mid-term and long-term effects of this process in numbers? How much will we need to spend on training, and onboarding our people? Make sure you provide clear reports reflecting the progress and quick wins. A well managed process will promise clear communication between all stakeholders, and will enable you to monitor the process closely and empirically.
5. Open Communication Channels
I cannot stress enough how important it is to foster good communication practices from the very get-go. When dealing with change management, the difference between success and failure lies here. All of the above mean nothing if you aren’t spending the time to communicate periodically and transparently. Consider the psychological aspects of this change – the org structure, the different hierarchies, best practices, and the different territorial challenges that may arise. Make sure you are having regular meetings, allowing people to share how they feel, provide advice and assistance. Let’s be honest, nobody likes to move their cheese – we need to set up the proper communication channels encouraging people to share their concerns, as well as providing them with answers and options.
6. Risk management
When leading change, prepare yourself for resistance. Resistance is an inherent part of change management and your ability to manage it is essential. Resistance to change, a natural part of the process appears when the fear of the unknown overpowers the end result. The unknown is scary – and in the interim, the risks involved in change can outweigh the advantages. I strongly suggest trying to brainstorm about all that can go wrong and provide your stakeholders with the right tools for all scenarios. Try and identify the main threats to the process – manage them closely.
7. Stop and Smell the Coffee
Change processes can be cumbersome. Make sure you stop to “smell the coffee” on the journey. Enjoy the process,celebrate success and quick wins, as well as significant milestones. Make sure you are also managing the “psychology” on your “ship” – meaning, be sure to appreciate the people who are enabling this to happen, be sure to communicate success and results – these will ensure adoption of change, and positive PR for the process.
8. Change is a process
Change is a dynamic and ongoing process. It could be very difficult to accept, especially if it is dropped on you. As such, implementing a well-planned process to accompany your organization and stakeholders is essential for its success. Implementing measurable goals, periodic communication, transparency, and analysis will help you manage the process closely and take you to the finish line.
In conclusion, change is important in any field. The fear of change is most often the barrier to be overcome when attempting to lead change in your organizations. I tried to simplify the process in an eight step guide, however, it is obvious that it is a process to be managed closely using much agility. The good news is, that despite the resistance and challenges you will encounter, when managed well, using emotional intelligence and empathy towards your many stakeholders, chances for success will rise exponentially. Good Luck!