4 Steps to Effective Change Management

Change is often undertaken because it is urgent, vital to strategy or vital to survival. Getting change wrong is not just a painful lesson, but can be an incredibly expensive one for organisations. People who succeed at change do well in their organisation and their industry, those who fail often suffer the 'latent' memory of this for a number of years. This checklist will help you deliver effective change and avoid some of the pitfalls organisations commonly fall foul to. Print off and keep handy, you will need it.

These four steps are based on my years of experience in managing change at operational and strategic levels.  It will help guide you, your team and your organisation through the turbulent waters of change.

Create a Credible Vision

"There is nothing wrong with change if it is in the right direction"

Winston Churchill

  • Have we considered the factors in our internal and external environment which will impact on our organisation e.g. legislation changes, new technology?
  • Do we have a vision which is challenging, has emotional impact, articulates clear benefits, is understood and memorable?
  • Have we tested our vision with strategic stakeholders?
  • Can (and do) all change leaders support and communicate the vision with passion and credibility? Are key messages agreed?
  • Is there alignment with our vision, culture, values and leadership behaviours?
  • Is the pace understood and reflected in lively conversations?
  • Are we clear on what data and factors we are basing our decisions on, do we have a credible and compelling case for change?

Plan to Act

"Planning is bringing the future into the present so you can do something about it now"

Alan Lakein

  • Have we set up a programme for change with a Leadership team, change team and plan for action?
  • Are drivers and resisters to change identified and mitigating actions identified?
  • Are timescales achievable, resources available, monitoring mechanisms in place, success measure clear and funding secured?
  • Are we clear what we need to STOP, START  and CONTINUE doing ?
  • Do we know who to communicate to, when and how?
  • Do those involved in the change have the skills and capabilities to deliver?
  • Can we articulate to people how change will affect them and what their role will be in the change?
  • Have we set up effective feedback mechanisms?
  •  Have we identified ways of involving people in the changes?
  • Is the change being discussed at all levels of the organisations?

Act on the Plan

"Action expresses priorities"

Mahatma Gandhi

  • Are we actively monitoring and controlling progress made?
  • Are we delivering 'quick wins' and communicating early successes widely?
  • Are implementation plans in place, do people understand what they need to do?
  • Is resistance to change being identified and effectively dealt with?
  • Have we acknowledged the sense of 'loss' people may have about the 'old way' of working?
  • Are we continuously learning and putting our learning into practice?
  • Are we sustaining or increasing the pace of change?
  • Are communications effective and any shortfalls being addressed?
  • Are Change champions and leaders actively promoting and encouraging change?
  • Are line managers prepared and supported in the change, are employee support mechanisms in place?
  • Are those who are 'losing out' from changes being treated with honesty and respect?

Anchor the Change

"Even if I don't finish, we need others to continue, it's got to keep going without me"

Terry Fox

  • Have Leaders personally confirmed face to face that change has been implemented successfully?
  • Do reward and progression systems support the new ways of working?
  • Do our values and culture support the new ways of working?
  • Are leaders visibly and effectively role modelling change?
  • Are we able to evidence measurable achievement of benefits and communicating these?
  • Have we decommissioned old systems and practices?
  • Are we encouraging people to build on the change to identify deliver further benefits via a 'no blame, risk tolerant approach?
  • Have we recognised and celebrated our success?

Una is a contributing author to the Effective Change Managers Handbook the official guide to the Change Management Institute's body of knowledge.