Working with the different elements of change management
Markets change, companies reorganize, and new compliance policies are enacted all the time. And anyone managing a company or training new employees knows that embracing that change, which is only picking up in pace, can mean the difference between staying competitive and becoming irrelevant. Failure to innovate can even end companies altogether, and it’s a major worry among CEOs.
Companies must therefore change policies, workflows, management models, and their very structures sometimes. Making these large shifts can bring great benefits such as becoming more competitive, improving customer service, and increasing profits, but there are many elements that go into making change successful.
It can be easy to talk about making the tough changes needed to stay relevant, but putting that plan into action can be more difficult. Most people are resistant to change. But taking action to overcome this hurdle is vital. True organizational change management results from action and involves each and every individual in an organization.
Tools and techniques exist that can ease resistance from all teams and help sweep a company into any change that’s needed. Among those tools is lightweight, contextual learning software, which can guide all levels of an organization through important shifts, at every stage of the process.
What is change management?
Change management is basically a “recipe” for a new company structure or process. With any recipe, there are ingredients or elements. When following a recipe, the chef must go through three phases.
Preparation might involve studying the recipe, checking for what the chef already has on hand, and gathering the tools and ingredients necessary to make the dish. Most vital of all, of course, is asking the recipients of the meal whether they have any food allergies or preferences. Disaster can be avoided by involving those who will be eating the meal from the start.
Implementation involves putting the recipe into use: mixing ingredients, turning the oven to the right temperature, and so on. And at last, following through could mean asking how much the recipients like the meal, and whether anything could be improved.
These three phases also apply to change management, according to the Harvard Business School. Organizational change management works much like a recipe, and there’s one major element in common that the two have. The human element is present in both and is the most important factor in success or failure. Recipes perform based on how they affect people, and corporate change management is the same way.
No matter the type of organizational change, the most important factor is the same. And a considerate chef is much like lightweight learning software. Both can make those affected more comfortable with, and willing to try, something new.
Besides the human factor, there are also five main elements to successful change, according to the ADKAR model: awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, and reinforcement. And the right tools can aid the transition through all of them.
The single most important element
The single most important element to true organizational change is the human side. Organizations are made up of people, and it’s the people who ultimately will determine whether leadership is effectively managing that shift. These people range from executive teams to the newest employees.
Any type of change can be intimidating to people, so it’s important to not only focus on the design and implementation of any major (or minor) company shift. When reviewing every other element of putting the change into progress, how people will react to that process and action must be considered first and foremost.
Shaking up management processes can have great benefits and keep a company competitive in a rapidly changing market, but getting there is often the greatest issue. Employees and leadership teams alike can be the biggest barrier to that action being effective, or they can help that positive change sweep through an entire organization.
The ease of that change will make or break any great plan. The great news is that the intimidation that change can bring can be greatly reduced with the right tools.
Lightweight, contextual learning offers training for employees directly in-app and can cut down on the learning curve. This aids not only with the adoption of new processes but with the organizational change that involves shifts to remote and flexible work. It can also help with the adoption of new software and policies.
This contextual learning is often wrapped up into larger digital adoption and enablement platforms that can also help with every other element of organizational change management, beginning with the elements of preparation and ending with the follow-through.
The elements of preparing for change
Before change can be implemented across a company, it’s important to start with the elements of the preparation phase. And the first element, of course, is having awareness of what type of change is needed, and why. This will likely be an important shift that can keep a company competitive.
Standing back and viewing the situation through an objective lens is the first step to taking action. Perhaps customer service needs to be improved, day-to-day processes need to be streamlined, or a shift to flexible work locations is needed to retain employees. There could be skills gaps contributing to these issues and a more flexible, lightweight learning management tool is needed to address the status quo.
Once the awareness that change is needed has been established, the desire for that change must follow. This is when assessing the cultural side of change management is vital. Knowing how receptive an organization will be to change can go a long way towards determining what to do next, and when.
Who in the organizational structure will be involved first? Identifying the management teams and the followers will help to determine how to roll out any new processes or programs. Using digital adoption and enablement platforms can allow the assigning of project teams who will get involved early and help to ease the rest of the company into the change.
After this assessment, knowledge on how to bring about real change is the logical next step. It is necessary to make a case for this shift, to prepare the rest of the organization for what is to come. Here, the benefits can be outlined, and a structured approach can be laid out to make that change happen. Introducing lightweight, contextual learning tools (and associated larger platforms) at this time can make the idea of change less intimidating to an entire organization and can show how easily this shift can happen.
Implementing change: How the right tools can help
When it comes to the actual change itself, it’s important to have the ability to bring it about. This typically means training employees and leaders alike in new processes and policies, and likely new programs in areas such as sales enablement. Learning management that is flexible and lightweight is not only good for project management, it can help to turn an idea into meaningful action.
Typically, trainers and managers are the first to adopt change and will set examples for the rest of the company to follow. This approach can work well with the use of digital adoption and enablement platforms, regardless of leadership style. By demonstrating how easy a new process is to learn, leaders can convince the majority to follow.
All key stakeholders should be able to participate in change from the beginning, and since contextual learning can help train employees as they work, it’s easy to take action right away.
Following through with the help of lightweight learning management
Once a change has been implemented, reinforcement is important for keeping the momentum going. This is true for process changes, shifts to remote work, and changes in compliance policies.
Lightweight, contextual learning management isn’t just for employees to train for their specific duties in-app. Trainers and managers can use these tools to reinforce what has been learned as well. Digital adoption and enablement platforms that often house lightweight, contextual learning allows leaders to communicate easily with all employees at once, as they work, and also allow leaders to monitor employee performance and identify any areas where skills or compliance is lacking.
This ability makes it simple to ensure that change is smooth for an entire organization. Setting project objectives becomes much easier with such smooth communication. Lightweight, contextual learning will also be valuable with any further changes in the future, giving a company the ability to shift with the market.
Embracing change with lightweight, contextual learning tools
The right tools and plan can make positive change happen, so long as you assess the situation carefully, have the desire for change, know how to make that change happen, have the ability to bring it about, and reinforce that change.
Proper change management makes any transitions easier on leadership and employees. Employee morale can improve, especially if there is a reduced learning curve and employees at all levels feel as if they are truly part of that change. Lightweight, contextual learning can help to meet that business goal.
Money can be saved by using this type of learning to adopt new tools, programs, and processes as well. Adopting new programs and processes often costs a company money, and sometimes employee uptake of new things is limited. With in-app learning and no matter where an employee is working, the barrier to employees embracing change comes down. Easy learning can feel like an opportunity, not a burden.
Keeping the costs of change under control is also a benefit from using a proper change management approach. Customer relations can improve and the need to rework some processes and changes in company structure can be eliminated.
Getting started with the right plan today
There are many elements to effective organizational change and the most important of them all, the human element, is also the most complex. But the right learning management tools can address the contextual learning needs of individuals and entire organizations alike. Easing resistance at every level can help to ensure that any large change can be successful. If you’re ready to embrace change and want the tools to take effective action, chat with us today.
About the Author
Mel is the CEO and Co-founder of Spekit, a Forbes 30 under 30 recipient, Entrepreneur’s Top 100 Women of Influence, and featured across Crunchbase, Fast Company, Business Insider, and more. She is leading the revolution to shatter the glass ceiling and unleash the full potential of every employee. Learn more ->