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Change Management: It's just comms and training, right?

Teams working in an office

I remember the moment vividly, I was with a Regional HR Director, excited to tell her about this new HR programme we were implementing and how it would transform her team’s performance. I was getting into full flow but before I could finish my central point, she interjected; “you call it Change Management but at the end of the day it’s only comms and training”.  My heart sank a little and I rumbled through the rest of my pitch.


It is a common refrain and something that is repeated often. However, change is tricky, sticky, awkward and sometimes emotional. It needs to be managed properly and therefore there is more to change management than sending out a few e-mails or running a couple of training sessions.


Stakeholders and sponsors...can make or break your change programme

Where to begin?


Let’s start with stakeholders and sponsors. These individuals have the capability to make or break your change programme.  Identifying these people upfront and understanding how they will be impacted is key to any successful change initiative, working with them to help influence others through regular engagements will smooth the path to success. Be careful not to get too hung up on seniority - middle managers and junior staff members can be just as influential or destructive!


These individuals can also help with the issue of resistance. Resistance is an inevitable by-product of change, you will hear plenty of reasons why the change can’t succeed; “it’s too hard” “ it’s been tried before” “we’ve got other stuff going on”. Unfortunately, resistance can’t be ignored and sending out some insipid comms is only likely to exasperate the situation. Instead, as a change professional, it’s important to tackle the issue head on and dig deep into the motivations for resistance. Ask why, provide reassurance where needed and work to convert those individuals and teams into champions for your change initiative. The Regional HR Director I mentioned at the start of this blog, was a fine example of this, by investing significant time with her to demonstrate the value of the change I was able to convert her from a sceptic into a supporter of the change. By the end of the Programme she was the number one champion for change.


Research shows your programme is seven times more likely to succeed with Change Management

Change Management is done, on to the next thing on my list?


So, you’ve got your stakeholders lined up and quelled any resistance, go-live was a rip-roaring success and you can send your Change team home happy....


Not quite! The final act is to make sure your organisation has fully adopted the change beyond the lifetime of your project. To do this you will need to run a series of activities to understand whether the change is being used (be that a new system, process or policy) and whether it’s being used well (are people using it as intended). These activities can be both quantitative, think number of clicks/downloads/responses or qualitative, think surveys, focus groups. Both combined will give you a clear measure of the success of your change programme.


Our change team recently supported a large manufacturing company to deliver a new Global HR System. Prior to our arrival, the client lacked a coherent change approach and Change Management was seen as something of a 'bolt-on'. By providing them with a comprehensive change strategy we shifted their mindset.  The results were stark, resulting in

  • better customer experience

  • better adoption

  • ultimately, a better return on their investment.


Three takeaways for today


In answer to the central question, yes, there is a place for comms and for training, but your change approach needs more than that.

  1. Change is more complicated than meets the eye and it needs to be managed properly.

  2. Change needs sponsors and a robust approach to resistance.

  3. Change needs clarity when measuring the success of your programme.


Without these three things, you risk your initiative falling flat on its face. With Change Management, research has found you are seven times more likely to succeed and bring about the change you seek on schedule, and within budget.


For more information about Veran’s approach to Change Management and adopting a SaaS Mindset™, click here to arrange a 20-minute chat with one of our consultants.



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