By: Lauren Dellarocco
No matter the specific company, its industry or business objective, every company has one thing in common—the need for organizational change.
Any company that hopes to survive in today’s competitive market must undergo organizational change. Technology is rapidly evolving, which means any company that uses or sells technology has to evolve at the same rate. And in the digital age, there aren’t too many prosperous companies that don’t use or sell technology.
Disruptive innovations are constantly emerging with new features and solutions that revolutionize business processes. A company that strives to stay ahead of its competition will sustain an organizational change, like a digital transformation.
To keep operations as productive and efficient as possible during an organizational change, a change management process must be in place to guide managers and team members through a goal-oriented roadmap of successful change implementation.
What is a Change Management Process?
A change management process provides a step-by-step guideline for implementing successful change in an organization while minimizing disruption. Change processes must be straightforward, well-defined and productive to ensure team members and leaders in change management roles are on the same page, moving toward the same goal.
Different types of change will require different change processes and procedures, but the change management process should remain as a static infrastructure that leads senior managers and various change agents through each step.
The change management process begins with a change request, but the process doesn’t end when the change is implemented. Further change management must be in place to analyze the process, refine procedures, and provide feedback to team members to improve future processes.
Change Management Roles
During an organizational change of any scale, there are critical change management roles and responsibilities that must be fulfilled to ensure a successful process. The change manager, project manager, senior managers, ECAB team, and supporting management team all play key roles in furthering a change initiative.
As technologies advance and elicit the persistent need for technological changes, structural changes, operational changes or strategic changes, the change management process and the key roles associated with the process have become increasingly essential.
According to a 2013 Prosci study, “52% of participants cited having a permanent job role for change management in their organization”. This percentage saw an increase from 43% in 2011, which indicates that change management processes are now more vital than ever.
The overall responsibility of fulfilling a successful change initiative ultimately falls in the hands of the change manager and the supporting management team.
As the face and voice behind any given change initiative in a company, a change manager focuses on change efforts that directly affect team members and clients. These leaders oversee, supervise, manage and guide objectives to ensure that the change process is progressing on-time and on-budget.
Throughout the change management process, a change manager’s goal is to minimize all potential disruption while facilitating a successful change implementation. The change manager and change management team are tasked with supervising and coordinating the change process on both the consumer-facing side and the employee-facing side.
At the forefront of the change process lifecycle, change managers are in charge of approving or denying change requests at the very start of the process, guiding and managing the change implementation, and gathering feedback and communicating evaluations to senior management toward the final stages of the process. The process begins and ends with the change manager.
A successful change manager will:
- Approve or deny change requests
- Establish tasks, goals, and milestones to guide the change process
- Manage the change process lifecycle, including all of its phases and stages
- Monitor the efficiency and effectiveness of change agents and team members
- Oversee day-to-day tasks throughout the change process
- Create reports to communicate the progress and timeline of the change process with senior management
- Educate team members and fellow change leaders on expectations, objectives and requirements throughout the process
- Conduct post-implementation reviews
ECAB Team Members
ECAB team members, or members of the emergency change advisory board, play the critical role of reviewing one of the more demanding types of changes: emergency changes.
Emergency changes require sudden action and implementation, unlike most types of organizational changes that allow for gradual, thoroughly-planned change processes. As a response to threatening situations—for example, a breach in cyber security—an emergency change may be initiated by the change manager and ECAB team members. Emergency changes require immediate action to avoid devastating repercussions.
For a company to avoid disruptions, it’s critical that its leaders work to mitigate these emergency changes by preventing a need for them in the future. ECAB team members will review emergency changes after they’ve been implemented to assess change efforts. They work to determine a change management strategy that safeguards the company and protects it from subsequent emergency changes.
The project manager and the project management team are responsible for mapping out deliverables throughout the change management process. Change leaders in the project management department will create accountability for team members and change agents through milestones, short-term goals, and long-term goals.
The project management team will create tasks and activities that advance the change initiative, based on a strategic project plan that delegates specific responsibilities to various team members.
When a company undergoes a change, more likely than not, its processes and programs will be affected. Because the daily duties within any project management team revolve around processes and procedures, when an organizational change occurs, the project team feels the direct implications of the change.
The project manager and project management team are responsible for:
- Coordinating the change process and ensuring all team members are progressing in the same direction
- Holding team members accountable for meeting deadlines and milestones
- Collaborating with management from various departments to determine project timeline and time budgets
- Facilitating open and thorough communication among team members and management
Project managers have the key role of facilitating communication between team members, and clear communication is imperative to a successful change implementation.
Open communication during the change management process will enlighten team members on the importance of change, the reasons driving the change, and how exactly the change will impact each team member’s role.
To aid the project management team in facilitating effective workplace communication, project managers will often implement an employee communication software that drives employee engagement to yield better business results.
The Change Management Role of Ensuring Buy-in
Throughout the change management process, leaders have the significant responsibility of securing buy-in from key stakeholders as well as from fellow leaders and team members. Organizational changes are in place to transform a company’s overall strategy, culture, or digital-technology base—all of which have a critical impact on every team member.
Change management leaders often implement communication journeys, customized to drive employee engagement and action by streamlining communications and educating team members on the change process. With clear-cut communication and an across-the-board understanding of the need for change and the anticipated impact of change, key stakeholders and team members are more likely to buy-in to the change initiative.
A company that follows the change management process and fulfills the key change management roles required to initiate, guide and manage the process is equipt to implement a change that successfully increases the company’s ROI, improves the consumer experience, and secures a competitive advantage in the market.