The way businesses operate has changed dramatically in the past 10 years. And you, have you applied the same approach for several years or have you changed your practice and the way you approach your customers? What about all your knowledge, skills and tools used when taking charge of your projects?
Unless you’ve been working on a distant planet for several years, tons of articles keep repeating that this profession has had a lot of pressure to evolve and that the digital world is knocking on the door to accelerate changes in the workplace. Some influencers even wonder if change management is not a thing of the past and just a fad of the past. Can change really be agile and adapt?
When I talk to the change management professionals around me, they confirm that they are being questioned and that they need to make their practice of organizational change management more ‘’ agile ‘. We also note that hundreds or even thousands of people join our ranks every year and deem it essential to supplement their existing knowledge and to be certified.
In your opinion, is change management alive and continuing to be one of the most sought-after practices to follow? Change is not a permanent trend.
Here are three (3) tips to enhance your efficiency as a Change Management professional
- Acknowledge that you need to be working differently and keep learning
Nowadays, successful companies conduct their operations in omni-channel environments. . Not only are they run in the traditional workplace (which we call brick), but they are also run in home offices, living rooms, on Starbucks tables and even virtually (which we call click). The world of Brick and Click has now collided officially. Yes, meetings are hosted on Skype, WebEx, Slack, and Google Hangouts. Employees can work in their pajamas, and commute from their kitchens to their desks. They can even work in different timelines than traditional 9 to 5 workers. The world has changed and so have the workers.
Today, remote work has been established as a successful business model, and the number of people working remotely, at least part-time, is rising. In fact, a survey by Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs* indicates that remote work has grown 91% over the last 10 years. This definitely has an impact on your change management strategies and recommendations.
What does this mean for the Change Management practitioners? It actually means that you need to be more flexible and well prepared at every step of the way and find new and innovative solutions to keep change engaging while keeping solutions simple and effective. You need to ask the right questions, scope well the change, clearly identify all the stakeholders, how they work and even more. As an example, when you are facing stakeholders that are working remotely you may need to revisit your communication and training plans to accommodate remote workers. In the end, this impacts how you see the company and even how you’ll communicate with managers and employees to engage them in the change and even train them.
- Choose your battles and think outside of the box
Everything happens so quickly. You get pulled into one project, and then another, and then another. Organizations have gone into this habit that change is easy as pushing it out there. Communication and training are easy to build and can be done on the side table of the kitchen while eating breakfast. And why is this? My answer is quite simple, we let them think so because Change Management Professionals out there were hungry to prove they could play the game as project managers do and keep sacrificing our best practices.
What I find in the workplace today is that not enough people say ‘’no”. How many projects can you really handle at a time? One, two, ten… I have done that and paid the price. As Change Management professionals, success means that we make sure to scope well the projects we participate in.
One of the things I have done differently in the past few years as a consultant was to take the time to capture, measure and educate leaders about the scope of the initiative we are building. A simple change can be a complex people change and vice-versa. Not all initiatives need a full fledge change strategy. Each project is different on its own, and its our job to document that well.
In my view, there are more and more discussions about capacity and viability of change management strategies today than ever. We can’t keep just proposing the same change strategies and activities without knowing the capacity needed to absorb the change and without having the optimal communications, training, engagement and support structures in place for our managers and employees.
To do this, we need to learn new tools, present our findings differently and touch the heart and soul of decision-makers. Leaders are transforming themselves and so should we.
- Know your communication channels and work on your communication skills
When reading articles about leadership and change, there is a clear trend that people choose communication as the most essential skill aspiring managers and employees should master. It is what professionals like us have kept on saying for the past decade. Well now, we have the empirical evidence and data to prove it. But the question is whether your company believes in investing in its in people to develop their communication skills.
I still find today that companies underestimate the important of training managers to engage and communicate well and to create formal and integrated communication structures like champions. When organizations are open to engaging groups of people to communicate and engage, Managers at all levels participate in disseminating messages but also in gathering feedback and actioning on it.
The Change Management professional in you must be in front of the parade and get a grasp on the communication structures, media and software your company would benefit using to send emails, direct messages and gather feedback. It is also critical for you to monitor how managers and employees use each of these channels and maximize the learnings.
Do you know which channels they use and for which purpose? Do they typically create an email thread when they want to provide feedback on a new project, or do they go directly to the source? Are team members more “official” when chatting with one another, or more laidback? Additionally, figure out which channels or group chats teams engage with most often.
Whatever the case, make sure your messages are clear, concise, and impactful, and that they have actually attained the goal they intended. If you can communicate well about your projects and engage stakeholders, then you are up to a good start.
- Hubspot – https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/businesses-still-cant-nail-effective-communication? By Adam Hayes. January 2020.
- Smith, King, Sudhu & Skelsey. The Effective Change Managers Handbook: essential guide to the change management body of knowledge. 2014.
- FlexJobs Blog – https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/flexjobs-gwa-report-remote-growth/. by Brie Weiler Reynolds, Senior Career Specialist. July 2019.