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Managing the People Side of Change – What and Why

By March 15, 2022March 16th, 2022Blog

Accepting and adapting to change can be difficult for people.

Organizational change is the collective outcome of the individual change required to adopt or adapt to something new, be it structural, technological, or re-engineering of processes.

Disruptions are common with the introduction of new technologies like ERPs, Analytics and AI, not only because the technology can present a steep learning curve or have a disruptive effect in its own right, but also because it can significantly alter existing processes and the ways in which people work. Furthermore, while managing the impacts of any change to the status quo internally, today’s businesses are also dealing with various external disruptions, including shifts in market condition, customer demand, costs and competition.

Change Theory dates back to the 1940s with Kurt Lewin’s change model of unfreezing, changing and refreezing. This essentially means making a change in the existing ways of doing business, then sustaining the newly acquired behaviors. It helps the organization reach a future position from the current position where organizational performance is better. The change process has a high impact on ROI, given the cost incurred in technology investments.

Without change management, 73% of change-affected employees report experiencing moderate to high levels of stress, and due to this change-related stress, their performance suffers. However, with an Organizational Change Management (OCM) program running in parallel to the new technology implementation, stress levels are reduced. As such, employee engagement can increase by 38%, intent to stay can increase by 46%, deployment delays can decrease by 33%, and the ability to accomplish project objectives increases three to six-fold.

Why? Because OCM offers structure, process, intent and tools for enabling and supporting the people whose will be using the technology, thereby positioning these individuals and the business as a whole for long-term success with the new technology.

Managing the people side of change in parallel is critical to success.

OCM success takes the form of rapid user adoption, high utilization and low long-term user support requirements. With OCM, people are prepared to accept and embrace the change.

As with anything in life, people essentially experience different human emotions when facing a change in their work environment, and emotions can significantly impact stakeholder buy-in and involvement. These emotions may include shock, denial, anxiety and frustration.

The journey from current state to future state takes time and during the journey, people move slowly from low awareness and low involvement to high awareness and high involvement – traversing the path of awareness, understanding, acceptance, adoption and realization.

Because change can impact processes, systems, tools, job roles, workflows, mindsets and behaviors, frequent and targeted communication is key to raising awareness. It’s especially important to clearly communicate the answers to – Why change? and What’s in it for me?

Throughout the change process, various challenges may arise, including:

  • Vision – Disconnect between leadership and users. The change initiative’s sponsor struggles to help users understand the benefits of the new initiative and future ways of working.
  • Experience – Stakeholders are inexperienced with organizational change of such magnitude.
  • Business Impact – Functional users are not able to see the ‘big picture’ and how the change will positively impact the business in the short-term and the long-term.
  • Alignment – Stakeholder’s impacted functions and leadership vision are not in alignment.
  • Role Clarity – Changes in the role and transition to a new system are met with resistance. Unclear roles negatively impact the responsibilities and expectations during implementation.
  • Communication and Training – Inadequate training and lack of clear, frequent, targeted communication to generate awareness among users about the new technology.
  • Culture and Participation – Culture of resistance to change, comfort with the legacy technologies and the ‘old ways of working,’ and an unwillingness to adopt the new ways.

Stay Tuned …

Next week, we’ll get into the ‘how’ of organizational change management. In the meantime, if you’d like to speak with a change management expert, get in touch with us.

Consultant, OCM

Manager, OCM

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We look forward to learning about your business and how we can help you thrive on change.