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Implementing an effective change programme.

Introduction

Any detailed change implementation schedule will vary according to both your organisation type, and the type of change you are planning. There are, however, several general issues you will need to consider when bringing in any change in whatever context.

This checklist aims to help identify these broad issues, and is intended for those who have already mapped a change programme for their organisation (see Checklist 38) and are now ready to implement it.

National Occupational Standards for Management and Leadership

This checklist has relevance to the following standard:

C: Facilitating change, unit 6

Definition

Managing change involves accomplishing a transition from A to B and handling the problems which come up during the process. Change in organisations usually results from interactions between equipment (technology), processes (working procedures), organisation structure and people; change to any one of these four elements will inevitably cause changes to the others, as an organisation is an inter-related and complex system.

Action checklist

1. Agree the implementation strategy

The strategy needs to be clear before you begin to embark on change. Decide whether the implementation will be top-down, bottom-up, or a mix of both. Also, consider whether to make the change by division, by department, or in a 'big bang' approach.

2. Agree the time frame

Every change programme needs a start date and a finite time-span, regardless of whether it is being introduced incrementally or simultaneously across divisions. The timetable must be stretching enough to convey urgency, but attainable enough to be motivating.

3. Draw up detailed implementation plans

Combine the strategy and timetable to draw up detailed implementation plans with each divisional or departmental head. Use the change team as a source of advice and consultancy, but empower line managers to determine how they will implement the details of change against the overall goals.

The change programme is unlikely to be the only corporate initiative underway. Ensure the strategy and goals behind this change are consistent with those behind any other initiatives, and that all are pointing in the same direction. Do employees receive consistent messages about the organisation's core values and beliefs from each of the programmes?

4. Set up a team of stakeholders

The stakeholder team does not include top management, but will benefit from top management sponsorship. It will include the key people involved in designing and delivering the product or service, as well as those receiving it. The team will also be responsible for defining and disseminating the benefits of the change.

5. Establish good project management

Treat change like any project. Set goals and milestones and monitor progress to keep the project on schedule and on budget. Flag up any potential problems as early as possible and make any necessary contingency plans. Establish the project team ground-rules, particularly with regard to the areas of information sharing, decision-making and reporting.

6. Personalise the case for change

People will only take on board the case for change when they can personalise it and relate it to their own job and team. Ensure that your line managers translate the corporate case for change into a reality to which every individual in the company can relate. Consider what change will mean for each individual in terms of: status (job title, budget responsibility); habits (changes to working time, new colleagues); beliefs (move to a customer focus); and behaviour (new working practices).

7. Ensure participation

Individual employees must feel they can take ownership of the change programme as it evolves. Change can be stressful if imposed. Introduce mechanisms to facilitate this. Allow criticism and feedback, but ensure that corrective action can be taken where feedback suggests this is necessary.

8. Create a sense of purpose and urgency to help in tackling those real problems which have prevented progress in the past

Ask what and who may be preventing progress, and who can really help in unblocking it. Think of breaking the code of silence that engenders organisational protectionism and maintains the status quo.

9. Motivate

Sustained change requires very high levels of motivation. People need to feel valued, to be developed, to have their achievements recognised, and to be challenged. Recognise that different rewards will motivate different people to change.

10. Be prepared for conflict

Change usually brings about conflict of one kind or another, simply because people have different views and reactions. Try to get conflict to surface rather than fester; try to tackle it by dissecting and analysing it with those who are experiencing it. Often enough conflict can be put to positive use through open discussion and clarification.

11. Be willing to negotiate

When conflict cannot be resolved through improved explanation and discussion, you will have to negotiate and persuade. This means avoiding getting into any entrenched positions yourself, and working out how to shift others if they dig their heels in too deeply. It means getting to an agreed 'yes' without either side winning or losing face.

12. Anticipate stress

It is uncertainty rather than change that really worries employees. Provide as much information as possible and quash rumours as soon as they arise. Any change programme is stressful. Fear of the unknown rather than change itself is the major contributory factor. Reduce its impact by being as open as possible about all the consequences of change. See that employees own the changes.

13. Build skills

View the change programme as a learning process and integrate it into the corporate training programme. Build both technical and soft skills at all levels within the organisation. Set an example by updating the skills of top management.

14. Build in capability for learning

Creating goals and plans that everyone can subscribe to will mean that everyone can gain. Turn learning into something that people want to buy into, rather than a chore--help people to feel the 'buzz' of discovery and involvement in new developments.

15. Remember change is discontinuous

Incremental change is a very long process, made up of very small and often invisible modifications to behaviour and attitudes. Seek innovative ways to remind staff of the overall case for change and to reinforce its value to them. Accept that change will be a stop/start process. Plan for this and develop strategies to gear the organisation up for renewed efforts when there are setbacks.

16. Monitor and evaluate

Monitor and evaluate the results of the change programme against the goals and milestones established in the original plan. Are these goals still appropriate or do they need to be revised in the light of experience?

Existing performance measures may transmit the wrong signals and act as a block on change. Check that measures are consistent with the vision and goals, and if not, re-design them.

Be honest in your assessment of progress. If there is a real divergence between the planned goals and reality, take corrective action quickly. Be open about failure and involve employees in setting new targets or devising new measures.

Managers should avoid:

* failing to plan for natural resistance or to cost it in terms of additional training and communications

* becoming lost in the detail or losing sight of the vision - real change often comes through a simple breakthrough

* not noting and publicising all successes to build up momentum and support

* attempting to address too much change at once

* skimping on the resources for training or communications.

* going ahead without gaining employee involvement for every stage of design and implementation, or without top management sponsorship of, and commitment, to the agreed implementation.

Additional resources

Books

Change management: a critical perspective, Mark Hughes

London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 2006

Sharing knowledge: the why and how of organizational change, Francois Dupuy

Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004

Change management excellence: using the four intelligences for successful organizational change Sarah Cook, Steve Macaulay and Hilary Coldicott

London: Kogan Page, 2004

Managing change changing managers, Julian Randall

London: Routledge, 2004

This is a selection of books available for loan to members from the Management Information Centre. More information at: www.managers.org.uk/mic

Internet resources

Managing Change & Technology: www.technobility.com

A site owned by Canadian consultant Peter de Jager offering articles, archives and M C & T Newsletter.

Holger Nauheimer: www.change-management-toolbook.com/

A range of materials relating to change are offered by Holger Nauheimer, and can be downloaded for use, as long as the source is acknowledged appropriately.
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Title Annotation:Checklist 040
Publication:Chartered Management Institute: Checklists: Operations and Quality
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 1, 2006
Words:1387
Previous Article:Managing projects.
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