What is Change Management?
Change Management is an umbrella term used to primarily address the communication and people issues at the outset of a Change Programme. This starts with the Leadership team and should include all stakeholders to set the direction and provide the strength and support for every layer of the employee. This is about defining and agreeing on the limit and levels of ownership from the top to the bottom of any organisation as well as addressing the cultural landscape of the business and its employees.
The communication element must include an articulate and compelling business case for the change, together with a demonstration from the leadership team that the organisation is heading in the right direction with a viable future. This message, together with progress updates, must be delivered regularly throughout the period of transformation in order to achieve employee ‘buy-in’.
All business owners know that ‘happy employees are key to a successful organisation’ and keeping them updated with plans and process changes are integral to achieving that. Whilst Plans and Processes (within any Project Management exercise) do form an integral part of any Change Programme, it is the human issues which are key to Change Management.
Programme Management (PM) vs Change Management (CM).
Are they different and can they be the same? The answer is yes and yes! In the crudest possible sense, PM is linear in nature (knowing what should be achieved and by when), whereas CM is about Leadership, Accountability and Behaviour; largely people issues.
Generally speaking, they are complementary experiences/skills and many transition programmes involve both, so often have a foot in both camps. This is particularly the case at senior level with both Project and Change teams reporting in.
In a nutshell, PM prioritises Technical issues whereas CM prioritises People issues. PM manages Scope, Time, Quality and Budget whereas CM manages Adoption, Resistance, Disruption and Engagement.
- Address the ‘people issues’ systematically. Develop engagement and adaptation early.
- Start with the Leaders / Executive team. Essential to motivate other employees.
- Involve all levels. Essential to cascade change throughout the organisation.
- Formal Business Case. Essential to ‘set’ the direction and expectations.
- Essential for leaders and managers to accept responsibility.
- Regular, timely and inspirational messages are key.
- Assessing the landscape and understanding the issues is critical.
- Back-up plan. Prepare for the unexpected!
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change”. Charles Darwin
“Change almost never fails because it’s too early; it almost always fails because it’s too late”. Seth Godin
“Change, before you have to”. Jack Welch
“There is nothing wrong with change if it is in the right direction”. Winston Churchill
“When you’ve finished changing, you’re finished”. Benjamin Franklin
“They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself”. Andy Warhol