Change is a Vehicle, People the Passengers
It is easy to be lulled into the impression that running your change programmes needs you to only plan for the period of the change, however, good change needs more than this. A successful change requires you to engage with stakeholders, both in the leadership and on the ground, long before you commit.
It is an all too familiar tale: management realise that they need to make a change, implement it and then wonder why it didn’t work. Often, this is down to problems inherent within the management of whatever project, or programme of projects, but sometimes the project can be run perfectly only to fall the final hurdle. Equally as often the problems that plague implementations could have been readily identified early if only the right stakeholders had been involved.
Where change does land well stakeholder engagement is not something that exists solely in the context of projects; instead, it is a necessary part of deciding both whether the change is needed and what form it will take. This also requires the understanding that stakeholders aren’t just the people with the money and the influence to force things through but includes workers at the coalface. Only the people who are involved with day to day delivery in your business are going to fully appreciate the ramifications of a change.
Not only will engaging with your employees well ahead of any change allow you to better understand what the business requirements are, it will also give you the opportunity to tease out potential problems with the solutions. A simple example might be upgrading your Microsoft Office suite from the 2010 package to Office 365. Understanding how your staff are making use of the suite in practical terms (have they, for instance, customised their ribbons) and what the challenges would be in moving to the new suite (are many end users technophobic and reliant on templates) will help you assess both whether there is a need and what additional measures can be taken to help the change proceed without a hitch.
Finally, it is imperative to understand that engaging with employees doesn’t mean that everyone will come on the journey with you. If there is considerable resistance to any form of change, but that your change does address the needs of end users, then it may be that some people want to move on. Change is the only constant so don’t worry that it might affect your staff as well as you.