Rather like the iceberg metaphor there are two types of elements that undergo change – those which are visible (e.g. people, places, processes, behaviour, etc.) and then there is the more potent, dangerous and harder to manage elements which are less tangible, unspoken, hidden or invisible (our attitudes, values, beliefs, etc.).
As a change manager/agent we need to be aware of, and control (or at worst identify and acknowledge) all of these positions. The question is How?
I recently thoroughly enjoyed reading Howard Schultz’ book Onward (2011). In this he talks about the necessity of having a strategic change plan to help direct and deploy the overall change process.
As an ex Project Manager I felt comfortable and at ease with this concept and can see the value in doing so.
I believe that in developing our change plan we must ensure that we include, or at least address, all of the following elements:-
a) A communications plan that includes how we will communicate the reasons for the change, celebrate those elements of the old world that were working effectively, give valid, cohesive reasons for change and set a marker down to “close” down the past ways of working.
b) Recognise, and acknowledge, the importance of identifying, understanding and delivering against the psychological contracts (both implicit and explicit) of all participants and of managing the expectations of employees. Why do people work for us and what do they get from working here and how can we maintain (and not betray) that link in the future
c) How to involve/engage all members of the organisation, allow them all to have their voices heard. Change should not be seen as something forced on people, by either HR or by “management”, rather how to get individuals to accept and own the change themselves.
d) Create and communicate the new vision in an easily understandable way that makes clear what is expected, what the future looks like and what will be required in the future (Here I’m a big fan of Steven Covey’s concept of “Begin with the end in mind” from his Seven Habits of highly effective people book (1989/2004). What will people be doing, saying and how will they behave. Also how will you (and they) know!
e) Devise and communicate a “route map” or timeline showing what has to happen, by whom and when, allow individuals to compare their own behaviours and actions against the wider organisation. Also include measurable, realistic milestones that will show progress.
You need to decide how often (and what/when/how) you are going to communicate to your people throughout the process. Provide regular updates, progress briefings, success stories, etc. – you can never over-communicate!
f) Be aware of, acknowledge and support people as they go through the various emotions and phases. Celebrate successes as you go along and help people feel involved, valued and in control.
g) I’m also a big fan of “branding” the change programme. What is your slogan, what “promotional” materials can you create and how will you distribute them? Branding allows you to develop a variety of promotional objects that keep the profile high and “sell” the change (e.g. cups, coasters, pens, polo shirts, etc.).