Five tips for successful change management

by Janie Smith01 Sep 2014
Projects introducing changes to the workplace can fall flat if the correct steps aren’t taken, according to OBS change management specialist Jodee Handley.

She shared her top five tips for successful project change management.

Define success
“It’s project management 101 and yet so often, I work with clients who have lofty goals and they tend to fall flat whenever there’s any kind of rigor put around them,” said Handley.

“It’s incredibly difficult to know when you’ve achieved success, whether you haven’t achieved success or when the project is finished, unless there’s a really specific goal. As such, without having those specifics, it’s really difficult to put a change management plan around it.”

Assess the characteristics of the change
Handley said it was important to look at the organisation in its current state to see what kind of leadership model and reward system was in place.

“Those things will help us further down the track when we define our activities on how to get people across the line and how to help people who are resistant to whatever the change happens to be.”

It was also important to look at the size of the change in question, how many people would be affected and how it would be implemented.

Highlight the risks
“Highlighting the risks is looking for those obvious points of resistance.  Also single points of failure – if this person was to leave the organisation tomorrow, how much intellectual property would they take with them, how much of the buy-in are they going to take with them?” said Handley.

Those in charge of the change management process also needed to look at readiness gaps that would prevent the change from being adopted.
Identify the change management team/sponsors

“It’s often overlooked and people just assume they’ll be able to find these champions in the organisation who will wave the flag and bring people with them,” said Handley.

“That’s a great way of driving adoption, but those people tend to feel quite a bit of pressure to be able to do all of those things as well as their usual work.  It’s important to identify who will be on that change management team.”

Their job descriptions could be temporarily changed to recognise their change management duties, she said.

Understand the stages of change
Handley said that change happened on both an organisational and an individual level and it was important to understand how the change would progress in order to provide the right support and focus conversations, especially with resistant employees.

“Give them tools to get themselves across the line. Ultimately, it is their responsibility to adopt the change.”


  • by Bernie Althofer 2/09/2014 12:23:16 PM

    Having been involved in some change management processes over a number of years, it appears that one aspect that gets people off side is when the first lot of changes has not been embedded or evaluated, when changes are introduced to change those changes.

    Some employees have raised concerns with me that they have been directed to make changes 'even when nothing requires changing'. It seems that some organisations want it to appear that any change is good change, without first considering the short, medium and long term implications.

    Even today, I heard two employees talking about their struggle to cope the constant demands being created through the rate and pace of change. Their consensus was 'we will just have to get used to it'.

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