It’s a natural human emotion to be weary of change. Change can be a daunting thing for any professional to deal with. At the more extreme end of the scale, some even have an innate fear of change.
Is it any wonder then, that organisations implement Change Management initiatives to efficiently and effectively manage the migration to new business systems or processes?
What Do We Mean By Change Management?
Change Management is about preparing, equipping and supporting stakeholders to successfully adopt change. It’s specifically designed to guide stakeholders through a period of organisational uncertainty and upheaval.
In the context of system implementations, Change Management prepares, equips and supports users, through tactics like training, to ensure a successful transition to, and adoption of a new platform.
The Four Pillars of Change Management
While a quick Googling of ‘Change Management’ will provide you with an abundance of key pillars, over the years we’ve identified four that have a consistent presence in Change Management programmes:
You’ve no doubt heard the old idiom about prior planning preventing poor performance. So many times, in fact, it might sound like a bit of a cliché.
But, especially if your Change Management initiative involves the implementation of multilateral and sophisticated systems, planning from an operational and user-experience point of view, is vitally important.
Being able to provide and promote your plans to key stakeholders is imperative if you’re going to get their all-important buy-in. Which leads us nicely onto…
We’ve written previously about how resistance to change, especially from stakeholders who have been doing things a certain way for many years, is potentially problematic. Resistance to change could even completely derail your Change Management programme before it’s even really begun.
Without stakeholder buy-in, it’ll be virtually impossible to achieve any real change. But, with it? You’ll garner a culture of adoption and advocacy.
Some will argue that awareness is potentially the most important aspect of any Change Management methodology. The reason being is because the resistance to change that we mentioned above is often spawned through a lack of awareness, and also a lack of understanding about why change is being made.
Achieving awareness greatly increases the chances of adoption and advocacy by stakeholders.
It’s all good and well ticking the box when your Change Management initiative is completed. But, what happens next?
Even after your new systems or processes have been successfully adopted by stakeholders, it’s absolutely necessary to continue to manage, monitor, test and learn.
The very nature of today’s fast-moving, digital business world alone means that change isn’t something you can ‘do’ just once. An organisation and its stakeholders need to move with the zeitgeist, through cyclic continuous learning and improvement.
What Role Does Training Play?
If Change Management is the star of the show, training is its lead supporting actor. Together, they make a blockbuster that breaks box-office records. One without the other, though, and you run the risk of ending up with something that was very costly to make, but has no real impact or influence.
Thus, Change Management success is inherently dependent on training for a few key reasons, all of which tie into the Four Pillars above:
Communication – Pillars 2, 3 & 4
If there’s ever a time that you need everyone singing from the same hymn sheet, it’s during a (sometimes prolonged) period of change. The only way you can do that is through open and clear communication – something that training will prompt and exercise.
Communication is also key to engagement and education. Engagement of stakeholders in the change management process through training will encourage their participation in, understanding of, and contribution to change and future goals.
Continuous Improvement and Learning – Pillars 2, 3 & 4
Let’s be realistic about it, training is often seen as a point activity. A box-ticking exercise. Something that you need to do, because it’s ‘company policy’. Yet, training isn’t a one-off activity, and it’s far from just being about box-ticking.
Training is about teaching, and being taught is about learning.
In the words of Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Drives Adoption and Advocacy – Pillars 2 & 3
Especially if we’re talking about something like Change Management in systems implementation, if one a more stakeholders don’t know how to use a particular system, what are the chances they’re actually going to use it? And how can anyone possibly be an advocate for something they don’t fully understand?
Training stakeholders on the ins and outs of their new system and process will distil any doubts they have. It’ll fill in any gaps in their knowledge and, in turn, drive adoption and advocacy.
Like anything, when people are fully-enlightened about how something can help them and make them be better at what they do, they’ll use it, and shout about it to their peers.
Conclusion: Training Should Be Front-of-Mind
Training shouldn’t be an afterthought. It needs to be an integral part of the Change Management planning process (Pillar 1) from the get-go.
Because without training, getting that all-important stakeholder buy-in (Pillar 2) that is integral to making your Change Management programme a success is probably going to be a long, winding and bumpy road. Maybe even impassable.
Those internal ‘change champions’ you desperately need on your side to break down the barriers of resistance, and create a corporate culture of adoption & advocacy (Pillar 3), might never see the true value without training.
And the continuous improvement needed to move with the zeitgeist and embrace omnipresent change will seldom be achieved (Pillar 4).