TOT 009:

5 Critical Human Steps in the Change Management Process

John Barker
Sept 17, 2023
Read Time: 5 Minutes

Change is inevitable; it’s essential. Companies that can manage change are ones that thrive. Changes you have to consider include responding to the market, new processes, or new technology. Change is frightening for most of you. Failure to update your business will be the death of it. Guaranteed your competitors are iterating and streamlining.

A term I hear is “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”

The moment someone utters those words on your team something needs adjusting.

This week I want to give you a quick story of a mistake I made with a client. Certain leaders recognized a need for change. But the effort failed.

Then I want to go over five critical steps in the change management process that I use with clients. You want to avoid my past pain.
My Mistake
|In the mid-2000s, I worked with a client that needed a technology overhaul. They had a single software solution that ran the entire business. The software-controlled dispatch to clients, inventory, scheduling, invoicing, and technicians. You could only use the software in the office. They used walkie-talkies to keep up to date.


The software was old. Picture a 1980s computer with only white letters on a black screen. Supported by only one vendor. A company of 3 people. That sold the hardware at 4 times the price that you could get from anywhere else. The main person was nasty to speak to. It was a coin flip for the unlucky person who had to call them for help.

The managing director and I started working on priorities for a new solution with a new vendor. The existing hardware was at risk of dying. The whole company would come to a stop.

We were looking to improve every aspect of their workflow. Technicians could use it in the field. Larger vendor for support. Friendly customer support. Not locked to a single expensive hardware vendor. Easier to use for new hires.

The owner was on board for a switch. The other techs were ready for something they could use in the field. We had quotes from the selected vendor. They were ready to hit the go button. But we forgot to speak with the lead secretary.

She had been there for over 20 years. She said, “I don’t want to change, this is what I know how to use, and I don’t want to learn something new.” The owner said okay and pulled the plug on the project. Keeping the one person happy was more important. The other 50 people were left out in the cold.

I missed identifying this person as a decision-maker.  I wrongly assumed that if the owner was in, this was a go.

The company ended up not doing anything immediately after that. I learned that the equipment failed about 9 months later. The business could not process anything for 10 days. They bought the same old tech solution from the vendor they did not like.

I still live in the area that this company calls home. I don’t see their trucks on the road as much as I used to.

Step 1: Establishing a New Vision
Change without a clear purpose is like driving without a destination. You can do it for fun but you could get lost along the way.

The first step in effective change management is to establish a direction for a new vision. You clarify the “why” behind the change. It will inspire and align your team towards a common goal or North Star. The North Star guides decisions and actions throughout the change process.
Key Points for Success:

Clarity: Ensure that your vision is crystal clear and easy to understand.

Alignment: Communicate the vision across all levels of the organization. Ensure everyone is on the same page. Identify anyone who can make a decision on the change.

Inspiration: Tap into the aspirations of your team members. Make the vision emotionally resonant.

Step 2: Assessing Ability and Impact
It’s crucial to assess your company’s ability to change. Everyone needs to understand the impact. Review your current processes and employee capabilities. Identify potential risks, challenges, and opportunities that may emerge.
Key Points for Success:

  • Data-Driven: Predict impact with any data you capture.
  • Engage Stakeholders: Involve key stakeholders in the evaluation process to gather different viewpoints.
  • Reduce Risk: Develop plans to reduce risks.

Step 3: Planning and Strategy Development
Now it’s time to craft a robust change management plan. This plan should outline the specific steps, timelines, and resources. It should also include plans for communication and training.
Key Points for Success:

Detail-Oriented: Plan every aspect of the change process. Leave no room for uncertainty.

Communication Strategy: Develop a communication plan to keep all stakeholders informed.

Training and Development: Provide the necessary training and resources.

Step 4: Implementation and Execution
It’s time to put it into action now that you have a well-defined plan. Implementation is where the rubber meets the road, and effective execution is crucial. Ensure that your team aligns with the vision, and track progress. Be agile in addressing any unexpected challenges that may arise.
Key Points for Success:

Leadership Commitment: Leadership must lead by example. You must show your commitment to the change.

Feedback Loop: Establish a feedback system to gather insights and make necessary adjustments.

Celebrate Milestones: Recognize and celebrate achievements along the way to boost morale.

Step 5: Evaluation and Continuous Improvement
Change management is an ongoing process. It’s important to test its effectiveness after the change is complete. Collect feedback from employees and stakeholders. Analyze results and identify more areas for improvement. Your company will remain agile if you continually refine.
Key Points for Success:

KPIs and Metrics: Define key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the impact of the change.

Feedback Integration: Actively integrate feedback into your improvement plans.

Adaptability: Use the lessons learned from this change to prepare for future transformations.

Successful change management is not only about following a set of steps. It’s about fostering a culture of adaptability and resilience within your organization. You can navigate the complex landscape of change with confidence. Establish a new vision, checking readiness, detailed planning, effective execution, and continuous improvement.  Embrace change as an opportunity for growth and innovation. Your organization will not only survive but thrive.

Don’t make the mistake I made with that client.  Figure out anyone who can make a decision on any change you want to make and bring them in.  Do it early.  No point in wasting a lot of time and money if someone sneaks out of the shadows to sink you.

That’s all for this week.

See you next Sunday.

John

Whenever you’re ready, there is one way I can help you:
I can help if you need help whipping your technology back into shape, looking to improve your cybersecurity, or just need someone to look over shoulder.
Click the above link, send me some details about your business, and schedule a zoom meeting.
Simple as that.

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John Barker

John Barker

John has over 25 years of technology experience and earned a Bachelor’s in Business Management & MBA.  He also holds CISSP and PMP certifications.

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