5 Tips for Leading Change Management

Change Management - Microsoft Partner Gold Competencies for Apex Digital Solutions

Many of us have experienced the challenges of driving change in an organization. Whether it is the introduction of new technology, a new process, or a departmental re-org, change can be hard for people to embrace. Specific to technology change, success is no longer measured just by on-time, on-budget deliveries. The true measure of success is tied to how well the users adopt the new tools and processes.

Typically, only 34% of users are willing to use new technology rollouts.

Source: CIO Executive Board Business Productivity Database

The challenge of new technology adoption isn’t unique to the digital workplace or enterprise collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams. Successfully introducing a new way of working into people’s lives requires effort, regardless of the specific technology.

Effective change management and good user adoption starts with realizing that there is a process for change management, and that addressing it in a mindful and intentional way can yield great results. Changes must be put into the proper business context, tied to a strategy, and consistently communicated throughout the process.

When preparing your change management plan, consider the following best practices to drive adoption:

  • Build awareness

    The first thing people want to know is what problem is being solved and why do they need to change. Providing example use case scenarios will help illuminate the need for the change.

  • Develop the desire to change

    People must embrace the reasoning for the change and accept that they need to change. Change affects people emotionally and requires a personal connection to understand their resistance and concerns.

  • Build knowledge/skills

    Training and hands on learning to ensure users know how to use the tool is a critical aspect to adoption. This isn’t about throwing people into the deep end of the pool – instead it is teaching them to swim. Having specific training programs and pilot periods are helpful in developing people’s skills and confidence with the new tools.

  • Reinforce desired behaviors and continued learning

    Too often, a tremendous amount of time and energy is expended to implement the change only to watch progress regress in the months following launch. Successful implementations must also include activities to reinforce and sustain the change.  Ongoing efforts to measure adoption, promote usage, address skill gaps while also reinforcing the drivers for change are important to maintaining momentum and maximizing adoption.

  • Identify a Sponsor

    The most successful changes have an actively engaged Sponsor that provides high level support and validation of the change. The Sponsor is key to communicating the need for change and to demonstrate the commitment of the organization to change.

Culture is one of the biggest obstacles to change management. 26% of survey respondents identified culture issues as barriers, such as entrenched viewpoints and resistance to change.

Source: The State of Digital Transformation by Altimeter 

The glue that holds your change management process together is simple – communication.

Developing a detailed change management plan and following it throughout the change process will increase the likelihood of successful adoption. Keep in mind that it is necessary to communicate at every stage of the project, and critical to start well before the change is implemented. It’s also important to remember to make use of all communication methods and not just rely on e-mail. Communication plans should also include face-to-face discussions that involve both listening and speaking. For people to change, they need their voices heard and their fears considered.

Finally, remember change management doesn’t stop once the change has occurred. It’s important to measure results and share success stories during the months following the change. Success stories are often just as valuable as quantitative measures. Highlight the value individuals are realizing and promote similar behavior. Use the data gathered to target communications and re-enforce the desired outcomes.

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Ready for Change Management

Establish change management best practices in preparation for the deployment of new Microsoft 365 workloads, business applications, and other user impacting technology solutions.

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