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Change management and the 3 most common change management problems

Summary

Change management process and how to solve 3 common change management problems

Time: 6 minute read
Change happens.

It's inevitable. For every person and every organization, the question isn't if. It's when.

But when it comes to change, organizations have a more vital question to ask themselves: How will we respond?

The best responses occur when a change is expected, planned for, and built into the company culture.

Even so, experience shows that sometimes change happens so fast that you must react to situations you might never have considered.

Situations like these can be stressful. Fortunately, you can relieve the stress of sudden, forced change by focusing on the positive outcomes change can bring, like becoming more agile, productive, and competitive.

How you manage change determines the success of your response. Start creating positive change by overcoming the three most common problems that stop it cold.

 

The reality is, no matter how successful you are, you can always do something better. For example, you can improve a product, streamline a process, or optimize a service offering.

Factors like evolving market conditions, new competitors, and new technologies only add urgency. Failure to change allows more nimble competitors to get ahead. Planning for change and making it part of your culture makes it easier to adapt and stay competitive and agile.

Of course, change presents a challenge, doesn’t it? We don't like it.

We prefer the comfort of our routines. This preference can make it difficult to change. As a result, even the most inspired business leaders in companies of every size face a path full of potential roadblocks when proposing a change.

A defined change management process overcomes these challenges.

The key for you is to make adapting to change part of your company culture. Even if you do, you're still likely to face three common issues related to change.

Let’s take a closer look by:

  • Defining change management
  • Describing the change management process and how to manage it
  • Detailing the three common change management problems and how to get past them.

What is change management?

Change management refers to the approaches, tools, and processes that a business uses to prepare, support, and direct its people to achieve predefined goals of organizational change.

It aims to smooth the process of change and even makes it desirable.

 

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What does a change management process look like?

A change management process doesn't need to be complicated. It should, however, be comprehensive. The more detailed it is, the greater your likelihood of success.

Do a quick online search, and you will find a variety of different change management models. The models may look different, but they really aren't. Successful change management processes follow the same general path. Differences exist only in the details.

Change management processes all rely on these same principles:

  • Identify the change needed and use S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goal setting to build the business case.
  • Present the business case and goals to stakeholders.
  • Create a plan for the project.
  • Coordinate resources and tools for implementation and evaluation.
  • Open lines of communication throughout the organization.
  • Manage the change, concerns, and even resistance that may occur during the process.
  • Celebrate the implementation of the change, as well as the milestones achieved along the way.
Every organization should also establish guidelines for ongoing review, analysis of results, and optimization.For more information on the subject, read our articles:

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#1. Employee resistance

Few of us like change. And while that's ok, a business must evolve to remain agile and competitive.

Resistance to change can start anywhere in an organization. Executives may not want to spend money. Departments may not recognize broader organizational needs, as long as their system works. The result? Key stakeholders and decision-makers may not immediately see how the changes will benefit the organization holistically.

Further resistance can come from a change in the routine. Employees may worry about what might happen to their role and their job. Even after the change, employees may still resist if they feel new workflows make their jobs harder.

You need a multifaceted approach to overcome this hurdle.

Be transparent. Workers want to know the reason for the change, not just the high-level benefits it will provide. Acknowledging problems and explaining how this change will solve them can build buy-in and cooperation.

Provide ample training. An effective training program for new technology, workflows, and processes is vital for a smooth transition.

Get management and executives involved. Employees want to see leadership engaged and invested in the effort. When executives get involved, it shows that a clear plan is in place. It also improves communication and makes it easier for both managers and executives to respond to employee concerns.

 

#2. Communication issues

Communication deserves extra attention. It's the area where many organizations stumble. Many businesses communicate value to their customers clearly, but they often struggle with internal communication with employees.

Common communication downfalls include:

  • Limited, or too little, communication
  • Not enough channels of communication (i.e., email, in meetings, website)
  • Failure to keep all stakeholders informed and involved in follow-ups.

Every change management plan should ensure clear, consistent communication across all channels to engage in a constructive conversation between staff and management.

Your communication should also include essential details. Tell people when events will happen and what to expect. Successful information communicates the correct information.

Fortunately, you can prevent communication issues with advanced planning. Make a communication strategy part of your change management plan. Detail who will do what. Determine a schedule ahead of time that includes the channels you'll use, such as:

  • Email
  • Intranet
  • Mail

And don't forget in-person communication through meetings and impromptu conversations!

Also, give employees avenues to share their concerns and address those concerns regularly.


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#3. Implementing new technologies

Few changes cause as many headaches for people at all levels of an organization as implementing technology. New equipment, tools, and workflows change the way everyone works.

Without a well-directed plan, the disruption can significantly decrease productivity instead of increasing it, leading to frustration. This can happen even if the new technology automates systems and workflows to require fewer steps and simplify the workload!

Often, situations like this occur because of a need or desire to get new technologies up and running fast, reducing training and transition time.

Phased roll-outs work best. By introducing new technologies over weeks or months, you can overcome this issue. You'll also avoid the 70% failure rate of change management initiatives (according to Harvard Business Review).1 Plus, building in extra time allows for testing and to address deployment issues - these often only present themselves during "live" implementation.

To make the most of training, offer multiple training opportunities. Ideally, you want to avoid one-off training sessions that speed through how it all works. Instead, plan for several sessions and provide opportunities for employees to attend more than one. This approach empowers employees to become comfortable with new equipment and processes.

For example, these resources share change management strategies for a printer upgrade, although the principles presented can be applied to any organizational change.

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Article: 4 Keys to a Printer Upgrade

A printer upgrade is a great time to add technology for a solid ROI. Here are 4 keys we've found consistent in the most successful printer upgrades.

 
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Infographic: 9 Steps to get more from your printer upgrade

Today’s multifunction printers are like smartphones – loaded with advanced features. Get more from your next printer upgrade with these 9 steps.

 
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White Paper: More value, more quickly from your printer investment

See how operations professionals are driving more value more quickly from their printer investments.

 

Make change management work for you

Change can be hard, but it is inevitable. It can also be a key catalyst for growth and staying competitive.

We know. We help our customers make big changes all the time. Sometimes, it's as simple as an upgrade of a printer with new automated technologies. Other times, we help customers develop more extensive enterprise-wide change management plans through our consulting services.

Explore our Strategic Consulting Services for more information on how we help organizations make the changes they need to stay agile and competitive. 

Have questions or want to speak with a representative about managing change in your organization? 

 
 

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1Ashkenas, Ron. "Change management needs to change." Harvard Business Review. 16 April 2013.