In today’s world, change is omnipresent in and around companies. They are forced to simplify or improve business processes in order to maintain their competitive position and to promote customer centricity. A company in full transformation needs to pay sufficient attention to change management. If there is a sudden reorganisation and a new way of working is to be implemented, it is hardly surprising that employees will jam on the brakes. In this blog post, we will share our best practices for change management outlining a real example of a similar situation at one of our customers in the financial sector.
What is change management?
Change management focuses on preparing and supporting changes in organisations at the level of individuals, teams and the organisations as a whole. Nowadays, many of the change management processes are grafted into models, each with their own strategic approach and inspired by the experiences of their developers. Examples of the same are ADKAR and Kotter’s 8 step-by-step plan. In spite of the multiplicity of models, the underlying goal always remains the same: to guide the company and its employees smoothly through the transformation. In order to boost your own change management process, we follow these 7 steps which we have also implemented in our customer’s organisation.
1. Clearly define a change goal across the entire company
The aforesaid financial organisation had already started its digital transformation, although this was done separately alongside the different individual entities of the company. Through a number of organisation-wide workshops, we managed to get everybody to align and move in the same direction: how will the transformation process as a whole proceed? The benefit gained from these organisation-wide workshops was a clear insight on the various disciplines and how they are related. It becomes clear how one service can benefit and learn from the other’s input.
We have formulated best practices and identified the tools that will support this new method of working (Prince2, SCRUM), using the input and feedback resulting from these workshops. New roles and responsibilities for the IT department of our customer emerged from this exercise.
2. Creation of Awareness
After drawing up the broad guidelines for the change process, we encountered the next difficulty: How could these changes be communicated and implemented in a constructive manner? In order to initiate this change process, we first worked on awareness. Company wide employees were asked to reflect on their current way of working. What is not functioning optimally? These communication sessions resulted in a review of the day-to-day business, and broadened the mind of the employees: they realised a lot can be done differently. It brought the necessity of change to the attention of the employees and made them understand why change was desirable.
3. Provide feedback moments
After removing the blinkers, we switched to soundboard sessions. Instead of preaching “the new way of working” ex cathedra, we proposed to several teams ways to change the present method of working. Subsequently, we requested and got feedback which was included in the plan. That way, we prevented employees from experiencing the change as being imposed. Instead we made them feel involved in the programme. Extensive time was spent on this phase. The ultimate result was that the change management programme was transformed into a co-creation exercise.
4. Identifying Local Heroes
A key to success is the appointment of change ambassadors, or local heroes. These are the individuals within the company who respond to changes more quickly than others. During our change process,we always worked in tandem: an external consultant teaming up with an internal colleague. It were not just a few “foreigners” talking about how employees should do their work, but always the impact and influence of a familiar face.
5. Agile implementation
Keeping in mind the feedback received from the employees earlier, the final implementation of the changes now commenced. Also here, it was all about co-creation. In an agile manner, we jointly formulated specific goals, jointly developed the approach and made adjustments wherever and whenever necessary.
A major asset here was that the teams included the change management in their team objectives. They focused their objectives on accepting the methodology/technology. As part of this dynamic, they could freely to decide on the number of projects in which they would implement the new working method and use the tools. This ensured that the change was implemented in an incremental way.
6. Constant focus on timing
Throughout the process, there was a strong focus on timing. We all know a change management process requires time. People have to get used to the novelties and experiment. In order to kick-start the project strongly, constant and transparent communication was maintained from the very beginning. Employees experienced by doing from the very start. It remained a balancing act to ensure that the pace of implementation did not surpass the learning curve of the organisation. This timeframe makes it possible to exchange feedback and swiftly adapt the course if needed.