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Change Management Lessons I Learned Doing the 75 Hard

Have you ever looked at that thing directly in front of you and just exhaled the word “Ugh” with a big sigh? I know I have, and I am pretty sure we all have at some point.

In December, I approached a friend about doing the 75 Hard challenge with me. I wanted to do a personal reset and knew that I needed an accountability partner if I was going to have even the slightest chance of being successful. She agreed and on January 2, we started our 75 Hard journeys.Throughout the journey, I reflected on all the parallels between the mental, physical, and emotional challenges I was experiencing with 75 Hard and how they mirrored my professional experience helping clients implement Workday and preparing their people for change.

Lessons I learned doing 75 Hard:

1.    Get an accountability partner – one with experience.

We can all go online and search “change management” to learn the definition and recommendations from a vast variety of people. Having someone who has “been there and done that” is much more valuable to help you with your change initiative.

I’m a smart person and an avid reader. I did my research to inform my decision to take on 75 Hard. I also know myself well enough to know that for me to achieve success, I needed real advice and strategies from someone who has done it before.

Organizations implementing Workday need to develop a change management strategy to ensure stakeholders and end users understand what changes and benefits will come with go-live and adopt the new system. Partnering with a certified Workday implementation partner that brings deep change management expertise means the consultants can get in the trenches with clients to truly understand how change happens in their organization. From there, they can develop and help implement activities to drive meaningful change for their digital transformation.

2.    Lean into your strengths and know your limitations.

If you are not familiar with 75 Hard challenge, I encourage you to look it up. People often assume that it is a physical fitness program, and while fitness is a component of 75 Hard, it is a mental toughness program. I am a competitive human being and one thing I know about myself is that I don’t like to lose. I knew that 75 Hard would come with many opportunities for me to talk myself out of doing the work.

I knew which pieces would come easy and I knew which pieces would require some extra resilience and accountability. For example, I have been doing meal prep weekly for more than 10 years and eating farm to table for the last five years, so those elements would be manageable. Doing a workout outside in January in Minnesota is much less desirable for me and I am very good at talking myself out of anything I don’t want to do. I knew that I was going to need an appropriate balance of support and challenge to make it through all 75 days.

In my role, I talk to a number of organization leaders who are considering implementing Workday. When I ask them how they plan to manage the people side of change, clients often focus on communications and training. While these are two essential elements to moving people through change, they are not the only things we focus on. Some organizations have strong centralized communications departments with well-established channels that employees are familiar with and tune in to. Some have a strong focus on professional development and invest resources in ensuring that their employees are well trained for their job today and their career tomorrow.

However, it is more likely that we encounter organizations who need support in one or both of these areas, as well as stakeholder engagement; risk and resistance management, planning, and mitigation; and future state sustainment, adoption and reinforcement planning. One of the things I really love about the work I do is that each client engagement can be customized to leverage their strengths and internal resources — and to leverage ours.

3.    Focus on the milestones.

Most challenges that pique my interest are about 30 days, so this one seemed especially daunting. I’m also a checklist person, so repetitive day-in and day-out activities for long periods of time do not appeal to me. I like to cross things off my list. My daily outside workout was rucking, which is walking briskly while wearing a weighted pack on your back. I intentionally planned specific activities to have on the calendar to keep me looking ahead to the next event, to be able to check things off the list, and note small wins. I scheduled meet ups to ruck with other people and our ruck club scheduled extra rucking challenges during the same period. I also took a selfie every day.

Workday implementation projects are typically one to two years, with some being even longer. That is a long time to be working on a software implementation, making it important to align the people readiness plan to the technical project plan and to ensure the team stays in lockstep throughout the implementation. To do that, change managers have specific change milestones that go into the Workday project plan. The entire project team has visibility into the work the change team is doing and can hold them accountable to bringing the people along in the change while the technical side is working on implementing the software. 

4.    Be confident that you can do hard things.

Last fall, my husband and I said that 2024 Q1 was going to be long, tough, and daunting. We had so much going on at the time and yet I chose to take on 75 Hard for me. Full-time careers, parents to help and support, and a large 50-acre homestead, are just a few of the balls we were juggling. It was what I needed for me. Everyone is busy in their own way, and has stuff going on in life, and if we want to maintain and improve our physical, mental, intellectual, or emotional health we need to be intentional.

Workday implementations are large endeavors for organizations. Working on an implementation can be another job on top of the project team’s daily job responsibilities. This can be a lot to juggle, but it is essential to keep the end goal in mind and keep spirits high in the meantime. Call out a job well done on team meetings or by email. Even a small bit of recognition can be the push someone needs to keep trying their best.

Life doesn’t stop moving and advancing, we just need to set priorities. I did 75 Hard knowing I was going to need to provide two weeks of care for my mother in January, knowing that I have a full-time job, certifications to maintain, sales proposals to write and presentations to deliver, team members who counted on me for guidance and mentoring, and clients to lead and support. I was successful because I had an experienced friend to educate me and many wonderful people to support me and hold me accountable. I was successful because I leaned into my strengths and gave some extra effort and asked for more help where I knew I would struggle. I was successful because I set milestones for myself and made things fun. 

Focusing on the people side of change often requires a client to find additional capability and capacity within their organization and many of them do not have sufficient resources. The reality is that no matter how successful your project might be – on time, on budget, etc., if the people who need to use the solution are not ready, willing, or able to make the change – your vision will not be realized and your benefits will not be accomplished. To achieve success, people must change the way they work. 

Looking to change the way your organization works? Get in touch to learn how organizations leverage our years of experience leading through change and our end-to-end experience with the Workday platform to your implementation.