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Where Organizations Struggle with Change Management 

Where Organizations Struggle with Change Management 

Process work is ultimately people work. Whether it’s redesigning a process, adopting a new system, or even automating or outsourcing a process—process work changes what they do and how people interact with their processes. Not only is change difficult, it’s often emotional. Resistance can come when employees are sensitive to critiques of the current process. Many people are close to the process they use or, in some cases, may have invented. Employees consider a critique of the process a critique of themselves. 

Change management is critical for overcoming resistance, creating clarity on the change, and for getting buy-in. Anyone impacted by the change needs to be convinced that the change will add value—whether by making their process run more smoothly, producing better business results, or something else. 

Change Management is the act of proactively managing change and minimizing the resistance to organizational change by engaging key stakeholders in the change process. This is often accomplished through the application of a structured process or set of approaches to transition employees, teams, and/or an entire organization to a desired future state. 

But that is often easier said than done. 

Four Barriers to Effective Change Management (And How to Overcome Them)

According to research on BPM programs, organizations tend to rely on the usual suspects:  communications, leadership buy-in, and training to embed process management within the organization.  Furthermore, organizations tend to struggle with change management because of four key reasons.   

  1. Rely on Push Communications—organizations tend to rely on broad communications that push general information about BPM programs or updates on change initiatives. Some organizations also include targeted communications for specific roles or teams that outline the impact of the change on them. However, most organizations still struggle with moving beyond one-way communications to setting up channels for employees to provide feedback on current projects or surface new opportunities.
  2. Limited Training—process related training is typically cookie cutter and limited to individuals or teams in the organization that have specific process responsibilities, or for teams during an improvement engagement. When it comes to adoption, training typically focuses on the changes or new features in a technology, not new skills or behaviors. 
  3. Underprepared Management—most often senior leadership is the target of business cases for BPM to get buy-in and ultimately make process advocates. While this is necessary, organizations often overlook creating champions in management and the tactical role that managers play in mentoring and reinforcing changes. Which means they typically fail to train managers on how to coach employees during the change. 
  4. Lack of Incentives—only a fifth of organizations provide formal and informal incentives for employees engaging in process work or for making the necessary changes in how they execute their work. Incentives like participating in the solution, consideration for promotions, and inclusion in performance scorecards can increase engagement in the change. 

These challenges occur because though organizations are engaging on change management, they typically conduct what I  refer to as “check the box change management”. They focus on project milestones and tactics like communication plans and training schedules-things they can check off the to do list. They do not leverage methods such as rewards and recognition, success stories, and communities of practice which help drive behavioral shifts and sell the value of process management.

This often leads to organizations missing out on creating substantive or lasting changes. 

How can we do better?

Sustainable change means moving beyond check-the-box efforts. Instead, organizations should bolster their efforts with a focus on leading, not just communicating the change and engaging staff cooperatively to drive new behaviors. 

The key is to engage people early and often and empowering employees to be a part of the change, particularly in ways that create an opportunity for feedback or participation. When employees are empowered with the right skillsets and two-way communications, you increase buy-in and adoption. While organizations have gotten good at traditional employee engagement factors, they typically overlook those that drive new behaviors. Best practice programs also include training people on how to make the change, as well as formal and informal incentives and recognition.  

To learn more about Change Management, the following are great reads:  

Additionally, APQC has specific training on the Seven Tenets that you might find interesting. The course that really hit on this tenet is:  

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