New software, mergers and acquisitions, executive leadership changes, or new policies and procedures will always bring disruption. It’s hard for individuals to change, and even harder for an entire organization to accept a new way of working. What might seem like a small change can become a huge headache and challenge if leaders do not effectively manage the people impact of business change. Knowing where your organization has been, where it is today, and what is needed to be successful in the future is key to successful transformation. Here are three things to think about if your organization is approaching change.
Knowing the Past to Prepare for the Future
The first step to knowing if your organization is ready for change is to understand the response to change in the past. It’s also key to understand what you are asking people to do and understand what specifically is changing for different stakeholders. What aspects of their day-to-day job will change? What new tools or systems will they need to use? Will teams still work together like they have in the past?
Think About the Current Environment
Next, consider the other changes happening at your organization. This is called your change portfolio. Are there multiple initiatives impacting the same group of stakeholders and employees? How large or small are those other changes in the organization? Changes often happen concurrently, so it is important to have an aligned vision across the organization and clear communication channels as to why changes are being made. It’s easy for people to be fatigued by change, which is why understanding the whole picture, your entire change portfolio, and being clear about the reasons for change, is so important.
What Is Your Change Outlook?
Many organizations do not consider the impacts of change until it’s too late. The final step in the process is to understand your organizational change competency and maturity. Four questions to ask yourself are:
- Does your organization have a change management office or center of excellence?
- How ingrained are change management best practices in your organization?
- Does your organization have a standard change management approach?
- Do leaders actively demonstrate that they value change management?
Having these sets your organization up for a better change experience or can provide insight into where you may need to build capability or ask for outside assistance; there are many different places you can be along the maturity model. This is also the time to consider how your leadership will be involved in managing and championing change. We’ve seen time and time again organizations that do everything right when it comes to change management, but if leaders are not on board, are undermining change, and are not active advocates for change, it’s hard to get everyone else aligned and ready for the future. Knowing if you’re close to being ready for change or far from it is important with how you structure your change strategy.
Discovering Your Organizational Readiness: What You Can Do
Knowing how the organization has historically reacted to change can be a good indicator of the future. Perhaps there were bumps in the road with communications, or there was no stakeholder alignment. Communication, stakeholder alignment, feedback loops and change analytics are areas to pay special attention to going forward.
When considering the current environment, a change portfolio can be a great way to get insight into what is happening, who is being impacted, and the timeline for changes. This is like a heatmap of change and can show you areas that might be overwhelmed and will need extra attention and support.
Finally, understanding your change competency and maturity will provide an idea of what steps are needed to get your organization across the finish line during change. There are many ways to assess organizational change maturity as well as support it, like a center of excellence or enterprise change management office. Knowing your past, preparing for the future, and understanding your current state will help your organization be successful through change and move people to the new way of working quicker and more efficiently.
Corey Balogh is a change management professional with more than seven years of experience driving and sustaining organizational change. He is an expert in trend analysis within higher education, human resources, and other industries. Corey is experienced in building enterprise change management capabilities, program and project management, and client relationship management. He holds an MBA from The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business and is a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt.