August 05, 2014 – Colleen Niese –

You’ve Built The Ship – Now, How to Get it Out of the Bottle…

ship in the bottle copy
ship in the bottle copy

When it’s time to implement a project deliverable, especially one that’s technology based, the team involved spends a good chunk of time dedicated to testing the software functionality, buying hardware upgrades and making sure everyone involved attends the required training session. An often-overlooked aspect to the above plan that can make or break the success of any solution being truly adopted is change management. This sometimes-misleading term has a very simple underlying definition: it’s the process whereby employees go from how they do something today to how they will do that same thing with the new solution to the benefit of the individuals and the company.

Seems pretty straightforward but the trick to all of this is adults typically are not big fans of change. I once saw a project come to its knees during implementation because a senior vice president didn’t want to change how he received his daily reports. In the old world someone dropped off the print version every afternoon; in the new world he had to go to a shared drive and download it himself. This opened the door for a number of employees to say what they too didn’t want to change with the new solution and the whole project took a giant step backwards before it could go forwards again with the roll out.

While there are lots of products, tools, and training on the subject of change management, the process itself is fairly straightforward:

  • The first step is making the employees aware that a change is coming. It’s the first step in preparing the organization that “this is how we’ve always done it” is going to be replaced very soon. Simple communications: email, staff meeting agenda items and a piece in the company newsletter that message something new is coming are the best ways to start change management efforts.
  • Once all concerned have a sense of the change, they want to understand the “why’s” in terms of the solution itself, the timing and their own individual concerns (why me?). It’s at this point the team needs to focus in on the benefits of the change and conversely the potential consequence of not embracing the change.
  • Once employees understand the value of the change they need to align with the change and start understanding how to use it within their respective roles. This stage is best served by training and the team needs to include not just the procedures, but also ways employees can seek continued support throughout implementation.
  • The last step, and often the one that needs the most time and attention is adoption. It’s at this point employees decide for themselves the degree to which they are going to actually integrate the change within their daily work lives. Project teams can best serve employees in this phase by providing feed back cycles, check-in meetings and refresher training sessions so that if employees have any doubts about the solution at this point they have a number of different ways to voice their concern in real time and ultimately gain the trust needed that the new way, is the best way.