“Change” is a powerful word, and I’m not talking about the coins rolling around in your pocket. “Change” as in to transform. To convert. The process of becoming different. There are usually two kinds of people in the world: those who embrace change, and those who fear it more than anything. No matter what category you fall into, one thing is sure: change is not easy.
The idea of “change” has been on my mind lately. Earlier last week, I wrote a blog post called The Best Way to Spend Your Free 30-Day Trial With LiquidPlanner, which was about how to introduce LiquidPlanner to your project team. Then I noticed an influx of questions around the web concerning the best way to implement change in the office. This got me thinking about Change Management (dictionary definition: the systematic process of transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state). In layman’s terms, getting people to accept and embrace changes at work.
Then I started thinking even more (a dangerous pastime). In our post, did we address the points made in the 10 Principles of Change Management? And with any change, whether it’s introducing a new PM tool or moving your entire staff to a new office location, which one of the principles should you keep in mind when trying a new way of doing things at work? Here are a few to think about:
Change starts at the top. When the you-know-what hits the fan, all eyes turn to the higher-ups at your company or organization. That’s why it’s important for leaders to learn about and be comfortable with change first before the rest of the team becomes involved. We usually advise teams who are new to LiquidPlanner to choose a small group of managers to learn the tool first. Once they become comfortable with LiquidPlanner, it’s more likely that the rest of the team will be willing jump on board.
Make a formal case or presentation. Not everyone will be psyched about change, especially when things have been done the same way for a long time. You should be prepared to make a formal case for the need for change (as explained in the 10 Principles article):
- Be able to convince the rest of your team that you NEED change. Implementing a new tool like LiquidPlanner? Point out the problems you have with your current tool or with the fact that you don’t have a tool at all.
- Show how confident you are in the initiative and its leaders.
- Present a clear map showing how you will get from Point A to Point B.
This presentation will be different for different organizations, but it’s essential that you convince your team that this change will benefit them and will make their lives easier in the long run.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. A successful foray into change management ultimately rests upon the communication skills of those involved. Communicate frequently and relevantly. You should never assume that team members inherently know and understand what you need them to know and understand. You should also strive to make communication a two-way street. If you’re trialing LiquidPlanner, encourage employees to post inquiries and feedback in the Comment Stream so the entire team can learn from each other.
Speak to team members individually. When communicating with your team, encourage each individual member to respond and ask questions and give feedback. The 10 Principles article makes a good point: “It is all too tempting… to dwell on the plans and processes, which don’t talk back and don’t respond emotionally, rather than face up to the more difficult and more critical human issues.” You won’t know how well things are going until you speak to the individuals involved and assist them in mastering the change, no matter what personal obstacles they may be facing. Remember that different people learn differently. If you’re introducing a new tool, make sure everyone has access to trainings, videos, and other resources. Take time to personally touch base with people who are affected by the change and get their take on the situation.
Expect the unexpected. Nothing’s perfect, and your change management process won’t be either. Maybe training will take longer than expected. Someone might become angry or overwhelmed by the amount of change being thrown at them. The key to treading these murky waters is to continually reassess the state of things and adapt to whatever comes your way. As long as you’re confident that it will all be worth it in the end, you’re assuredness will carry you through.