Sunday, June 19, 2005

Best Practices on Change Management

The 2005 Best Practices Report identifies the top five reasons front line employees resist change as:

  1. Employees were not aware of the underlying business need for change.
  2. Lay-offs were announced or feared as part of the change.
  3. Employees were unsure if they had the needed skills for success in the future state.
  4. Individuals were comfortable with the current state; they wanted to maintain the personal rewards and sense of accomplishment and fulfillment provided by the status quo.
  5. Employees felt they were being required to do more with less, or do more for the same pay.

    Providing the needed information to increase employees' awareness of the business need for change is the first and most important proactive step in successful resistance management.

Proactive and reactive resistance management
Managing resistance during any business change should include both proactive planning and reactive interventions. All too often, teams rely exclusively on reactive measures when resistance has already resulted in productivity loss and wasted time and resources.
Proactive resistance management involves systematically identifying where resistance might come from and what it might look like. The team identifies critical gaps and possible points of resistance, and addresses them before they even emerge. Proactive resistance management requires planning by the team and intervention from sponsors, managers and supervisors.
Reactive resistance management is in response to specific points of resistance. In the reactive situation, the team must listen to employees and identify the source of the resistance. Specific action steps should be developed, communicated and implemented.

Resistance management plan
A resistance management plan is a proactive approach to managing resistance. During the first phase of your change management plan it is important to identify potential resistance points. As your project implementation progresses, additional areas of resistance may surface. Below are the four action steps to creating your resistance management plan:

Define what resistance may look like for your change and how it may be identified.

Brainstorm with the change management team and project team

Brainstorm with the stakeholders and sponsors .

For each level with the impacted organization, define a strategy for managing resistance to the change and prepare job aides. Refer to the resistance management process (this can be found in the Change Management Pilot). In most cases resistance is best managed by the direct supervisor or highest level manager in the chain of command for that employee.
Managing resistance is not the sole responsibility of the change management team or change management lead
Be sure to include a strategy for those impacted audiences such as internal and external customers
Your strategy should include the WIIFM (what's in it for me) for each level
Prepare and review the resistance management approach with the primary sponsor.

Communicate this resistance management plan to managers and coaches in their change management training sessions.

Scale your resistance management plan
Resistance will come in all different shapes and sizes, depending on your specific change.

The table below highlights critical considerations regarding the customization of your resistance management activities based on the size of the change and the attributes of the impacted organization.
Resistance management customization grid

Organizational attributes

speed in dealing with resistance = slow
severity of consequences = initially minor with growing severity
resistance management strategy = proactive
primary coach = supervisor
speed in dealing with resistance = quick and decisive
severity of consequences = severe
resistance management strategy = anticipate resistance, proactively manage resistance
primary coach = direct supervisor, highest level in chain of command
speed in dealing with resistance = slow
severity of consequences = minor
resistance management strategy = reactive
primary coach = supervisor or project team
speed in dealing with resistance = moderate
severity of consequences = initially moderate, ultimately severe
resistance management strategy = reactive
primary coach = direct supervisor, highest level in chain of command

As a project team or change management team you should expect resistance, but proactively manage and minimize that resistance to the best of your ability - you will not be able to eliminate resistance. The top five reasons employees resist change and gives you a starting point to proactively manage resistance on your project and customize your resistance management plan to your change and your organization.

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