Best Practices to Ensure Successful Organizational Change

When determining the scope of a project, C-level executives and officers need to understand both how the project will work from a technical perspective, as well as how they’ll ensure that people actually use the new system or process. Both parts of this equation are necessary in order for an organization to get its money’s worth out of an investment; for the latter half, C-level professionals need an adoption plan that will give them a series of proactive steps to drive user adoption. This type of adoption plan is known as an organizational change management (OCM) strategy.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at best practices to adhere to when developing your business’ OCM strategy.

Key Change Management Principles

There are several important organizational change management principles every business should observe:

Get a lay of the land. Prior to implementing a new solution or introducing a new process, sit down with your employees and have honest conversations to gain as much information as possible. Ideally, this information should help you identify and prepare for any potential obstacles that might crop up during the project. Consider creating surveys and setting up interviews and workshops to give employees multiple options to interface with your management team.

Emphasize the value of change. Even if you see the value of making an organizational change, it might not be immediately apparent to end users. End users are more likely to get on board with changes if they understand how they’ll be affected by them — and, more specifically, how they might benefit from them. Find a message that resonates with end users, keep your pitch simple, and reinforce the value of the project in all communications and training.

Work from the top down. In order for OCM to be effective, it must be applied uniformly across all departments, including executives and senior managers. Executives and upper-level management are in a position to define the vision and set the tone for the project, so it’s important that they commit to change management initiatives, present a unified front, and work to instill confidence in employees.

Recognize informal leaders. Leadership doesn’t always have to come from the executive or senior management level — it can come from anywhere within the organization. These informal leaders are invaluable at every stage of the OCM process, from training to post-go-live, and act as a liaison between end users and the project team. When identifying possible informal leaders, look to employees who are well-respected by their peers and have proven that they know the business.

Communicate early and often. Effective communication is the key to delivery adoption messages and ensuring effective organizational change management. After the initial communication, leaders need to regularly remind end users of the value of the project at hand. There are a few ways to do this without your messaging becoming redundant: Address previous project issues or current concerns, focus on the benefits people can expect, and clearly define expectations. Ideally, your communication plan should inform, build support, and build trust.

Provide comprehensive training. In order to embrace change, end users must first understand what they need to do to support the process. When developing training materials, take care to reinforce the value of the project, train individuals on both the new process and features to support the process, measure the ability of individual users, and establish best practices and training course curriculum for future use. Make sure the curriculum is business process-focused and role-focused so that the audience in each training session can apply what they learn to their own role. Study up on adult learning best practices to ensure that the training experience is maximized for each attendee.

Provide ongoing support. Support should come not only in the form of technical support, but also in the form of management commitment, business support from influencers and the project team, governance processes for new features, ongoing training, consistent communications from leadership, user surveys, and adoption, proficiency, usage, and productivity metrics.

A Simple Acronym: ADKAR

At Hitachi Solutions, we swear by the Prosci ADKAR model for change management. Created by Prosci founder Jeff Hiatt, ADKAR is “a framework for understanding change at an individual level” that aims to help businesses successfully implement organizational change.

ADKAR stands for the following:

  • Awareness: People tend to fear the unknown. By telling employees why a specific change is occurring, what that change symbolizes, and what to expect at every stage of the project, you can eliminate some of that fear.
  • Desire: End users are more likely to adopt new systems or processes if there’s something in it for them or their customers. Take the time to effectively communicate and demonstrate the specific benefits that change will provide for customers and different roles/departments within your organization.
  • Knowledge: In order for end users to adopt new systems and processes they must first understand how they work and how to use them. In addition to basic training, empower employees by showing them what to do during the transition and communicating the skills and behavior needed to support the change.
  • Ability: Once end user training is complete, put employees’ newly acquired skills to the test to ensure that they fully grasp the concept and capabilities available to them.
  • Reinforcement: Your business’ OCM journey doesn’t end with go-live. Establish policies, procedures, and processes to provide employees with ongoing support so they can continue to adapt to and embrace organizational change for years to come.

Why Hitachi Solutions?

Changing organizational culture is no small task. By incorporating many years of organizational change management experience with many years of product and industry experience, Hitachi Solutions is uniquely qualified to successfully guide any change project from start to finish. Our OCM team members are Prosci-Certified Change Management Practitioners. We combine our technical and industry knowledge with the Prosci ADKAR model to develop a comprehensive change management plan and achieve business objectives for even the most complex project.

To learn more about Hitachi Solutions or our organizational change management services, drop us a line to get in touch with one of our Certified Change Practitioners today.