The APQC Blog

What is Strong Change Management?

What is Strong Change Management?

OMG you all listened. You really listened about the gap in change management, and I couldn’t be prouder.

Organizations and employees have been through a lot over the past couple of years with no real signs of slowing down. Employees are exhausted and the transformation and new technology projects keep piling up. 

Not surprisingly, this has forced organizations to take a hard look at their change management practices. 

We recently reconducted our survey on organization’s change practices and the findings have been enlightening and heartening. 

In 2018, when we first conducted our survey on change management practices, organization were really good at the “check-the-box” change. This includes processes and communications like establishing a vision, one-way push communications, scheduled classroom training, and managing the project timeline and milestones. But they tended to miss out on the substantive parts of change which deeply engage and motivate employees. 

What did we find this year in change management?

Overall organizations have made great strides in closing the change gap and addressing the improvement opportunities we outlined in 2018.

1.    Conduct a Gap Analysis—organizations are twice as likely to conduct a gap analysis—which means understanding the current state assessment and matching it against the desired future state. This not only helps the organization plan more effectively it also helps understand the resources necessary and manage the change impact on employees. 

2.    Leverage Centers of Influence—half of organizations are using peer-led training and communications. This means they are leveraging pre-established trust, the people that employees already go to for questions or solving problems. Also, when employees have questions weeks or months after the initial training, it’s easier for them to get answers if the person who delivered the training is a colleague. And for the employees that deliver trainings, it’s a valuable development opportunity.

3.    Help Walk the Walk—to ensure adoption of new behaviors, management must lead by example. To do this effectively organizations have to work with management early to provide them the training and time to learn and internalize the new behaviors or values expected from the change initiative. 

4.    Train on How People Change—to take employees along for the journey and better embed the change, leadership must understand how and why people change. Typically, this has focused on foundational change management principles. But organizations are also including training around change archetypes (e.g., enthusiasts, fence sitters, and resistors), as well as elements of emotional intelligence such as recognizing and addressing the emotions influencing behaviors and resistance. 

5.    Use Substantive Change Rewards—given that employees are change fatigued it takes more to incentivize than the standard public recognition or inclusion in the performance review. Consequently, organizations are extending their motivators for change to also include monetary rewards as well as factor into future promotion decisions.  

But since life is about ongoing growth and continuous improvement, there are still opportunities for organizations to continue to up their change efforts. A few of the improvement opportunities include:

1.    Federated Models—combines embedded change roles within the business with a centralized governing body. This ultimately takes the best elements of centralized and decentralized structures and combines them. Balancing the standards, tools, methodologies, and guidance of a centralized team with the flexibility and business-specific expertise that can increase buy-in and adoption.

2.    Behavioral Measures—change often means the adoption of new norms and behaviors. Consequently, to really understand if the change will stick requires outlining the new behaviors and tracking their adoption levels. 

3.    Change Agents Networks—the individuals that fill these roles are often informal centers of influence that can deeply engage and drive adoption at a peer level. However, organizations can increase their viability by designating change agent roles formally and create a network of go-to change agents for departments or project types. Not only does this make it easier to identify change agents for initiatives it has added benefits for the change agents—network of peers to collaborate with and learn from and can be a part of their professional development plan. 

Check out Making Change Management Mindful more insights  on current change management practices and how they have shifted over the last four years. 

For more process and performance management research and insights, follow me on Twitter at @hlykehogland or connect with me on LinkedIn.