Rana Bano is a one-part B2B content writer and one-part content strategist. She uses these parts to help SaaS brands tell their story, aiming to encourage user engagement and drive traffic.
All businesses must undergo a change at one point or another. Whether it's a change in leadership, organizational structure, or technology, companies have to adapt to remain competitive.
But change can be disruptive and stressful for employees—and without a well-planned change management strategy, organizations may fail to achieve their desired outcomes.
Case in point: 70% of change initiatives fail due to employee resistance or unproductive management behavior. Luckily, you can mitigate this risk by creating an effective change management plan and ensure a smooth change transition.
This article will explore the steps to develop a change management plan, including the skills needed to lead a successful change effort, common reasons why change management plans fail, and how to avoid these pitfalls.
As an organization undergoing change, you must prepare your employees for what lies ahead. Change can be difficult for everyone involved. But if you have a process they can follow, it makes the transition easier and ensures everyone is on board.
A change management plan allows you to communicate the change early and often, provide training and support, and be available to answer possible questions. It also reduces change resistance, boosts employee morale, and helps to create a more positive work environment.
In addition, a change management plan helps control the effect of change during the execution and control stage, thereby avoiding overruns in cost and schedule, incoherent scope, or poor quality change management.
Leading change is not a simple operation. It's a very human process, requiring human skills. Soft skills like empathy, communication, and emotional intelligence are essential. A change leader must also have strong resilience and be good at motivating others.
Some other skills that are critical for analyzing change, creating a plan, and implementing the plan effectively include:
Here are a few tips to help you develop and improve the skills you need to lead a change management plan:
You shouldn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to creating a change management plan.
It requires careful consideration of the unique challenges and opportunities that come with the specific change. But, generally speaking, you'll find one to include the following:
Below are the steps to develop a successful change management plan.
Start your change management plan by establishing the plan goals. This involves identifying the problem or opportunity the change will address and articulating the desired and expected outcomes.
Use these tips to define your goals clearly:
In order to effectively implement change management, it's important to prioritize the building of a strong change management team with the necessary resources.
This team should consist of individuals in leadership positions from various departments, including:
Building alliances with various departments makes it easy to educate the rest of the team on the changes and provide support throughout the change process.
Additionally, it's important to build a finance team to manage change incentives and resources. This will help develop strategies for effective finance change management and avoid delays. You also need support from stakeholders, including the CEO and other members of the executive team, to increase the chances of success.
With your team assembled, it's time to develop your change management plan.
Change management can be complex, so using a project management tool like Asana or Trello to organize your plans and keep everything in one place can be of great help.
Developing a clear and concise communication strategy ensures everyone is onboard and understands what's happening throughout the change management process.
Keep the following pointers in mind when developing your communication plan:
Executing a change management plan involves several steps, including executing the communication plan, providing training, and monitoring progress.
During the implementation phase, change managers should identify and quickly address any roadblocks that arise. This can be accomplished by encouraging employee participation in the change, being transparent and communicative from the start, and addressing any resistance that may arise.
To help build momentum for the change, be sure to communicate all successes and provide incentives for embracing the change. Employees should also be encouraged to experiment and share their experiences to harness their emotional energy and overcome any natural resistance that may arise.
Evaluating the change management plan is essential to determine its effectiveness. This involves assessing the success of the change and identifying areas for improvement in the change management process.
A few ways you can do this include:
Not all change management plans are successful. They can fail for a variety of reasons. The following are some common reasons for change management plan failures and ways to avoid them:
People often resist change, especially if it threatens their job security or current way of doing things. This can result in a lack of cooperation and engagement, which can undermine the success of the change management plan.
It's crucial to communicate the why behind the change and how it will benefit the organization, involve stakeholders in the planning process, and provide training and support to help them adapt to the changes.
Clear communication is essential for the success of any change management plan. If stakeholders are not informed about the changes or the reasons, they may become confused or disengaged. Anxiety and resistance are higher when people do not understand the why behind the change.
An excellent way to avoid this failure is to ensure everyone impacted by the change is well-informed. Include the reasons behind it, the expected outcomes, and how it will affect them. Communication should be ongoing and two-way, with opportunities for feedback and questions.
Change management plans require thorough planning to be successful. If the planning is inadequate, the plan may not address all the necessary areas, or it may not be implemented effectively.
It's critical to ensure the planning process is thorough, considering all change aspects. Clearly understand the goals, timelines, and resources required to implement the change effectively.
Without support from leaders, change management plans are unlikely to succeed. Leaders are critical in driving change, communicating the vision, and providing the resources and support needed to make the change happen.
Engage leaders early in the planning process and get their commitment. They should be involved in communication efforts and be visible and accessible throughout the change process.
Change management plans need resources such as finances, time, and technology to be successful. If these resources are inadequate, the change may not be implemented effectively.
The solution is to thoroughly assess the resources required to implement the change and ensure that they are available. Build finance teams that will be involved in reallocating resources or securing additional funding to finance change management.
Change is inevitable, especially in the business world. In light of the market fluctuations, digital innovations, and constant growth surrounding the marketplace, following an articulated change management plan can help guide your organization through any changes they need to adopt or decisions you need to make today for the opportunities you'll find tomorrow.
But to ensure all the information in your change management plan is well documented and easily accessible to employees or to make any needed changes, use a change management tool or software like Spendesk. Spendesk provides you with real-time data to easily manage your company expenses/budgets during change management, keeping you on top of your finances. Schedule a free demo to empower your team to make informed spending decisions.
The main aim of a change management plan is to stay on top of a growing business, manage change, and make the change process easier. A documentation tool can easily create a collaborative, robust, and interactive change management plan for your company.
Rana Bano is a guest blog contributor to Marin Software.