Change Management Lessons From the Field

Change Management Is a Needed Management Skill

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Organizations Create Successful Change by Paying Attention to These Factors. 3DStock / iStockphoto

Change is possible; the need for change is increasing; change capability is necessary for the organizations that will succeed in the future. So say the respondents to my survey about change management success.

In fact, internal and external consultants, and organization development, training, facilitation and human resources professionals responded in a fairly consistent voice. (The one underrepresented group was line managers - I’ll find ways to tap into their ideas in the future.)

Change is not going away; change is manageable; organizations can do change well. I looked for patterns and trends in the responses, and provide them here for you.

Successful change management requires:

  • effective communication,
  • full and active executive support,
  • employee involvement,
  • organizational planning and analysis, and
  • widespread perceived need for the changes implemented.

These are the big five when successful change is achieved.

Implementing your change in an organizational environment that is already employee-oriented, with a high level of trust, is a huge plus. Understanding and responding to the range of human emotions during times of intense change, is also cited as critical.

All of this may sound straightforward, but your suggestions about how to do each of these successfully are priceless. This article focuses on the key change management actions recommended by the majority of the change management study participants.

A second article provides tips for addressing resistance to change. Another provides “voices from the field" and enables study participants to speak to you with their own words.

Changes Experienced

Change management study participants made their recommendations from their involvement in a broad range of changes.

These are too numerous to mention and include:

  • downsizing;
  • mergers; and
  • department and company reorganizations.

Respondents implemented every conceivable initiative from the 1980s and 1990s including:

  • teams,
  • self-directed work teams,
  • quality,
  • TQM,
  • employee involvement,
  • reengineering, and
  • management by objectives and matrix management.

Additionally, respondents participated in:

  • new compensation programs;
  • changing work systems because of the Internet;
  • implementing a strategic planning process;
  • implementing new technology and software packages including MRPII and SAP;
  • restructuring jobs;
  • doubling production productivity;
  • relocating facilities;
  • adopting new appraisal processes; and
  • changing work requirements, including doing more with fewer resources.

Change Management Recommendations

Now that you have some context for the changes experienced by the study respondents, these are the factors they experienced that increased their organization’s success with change management.

Each participant did not cite all of these; I am highlighting those change management factors most frequently mentioned.

More rigorous studies of change management success and failure are required to assess the impact of each of these actions, but, I believe, the results of my change management survey provide you with great guidance as you embark upon your desired change.

Additionally, each of these factors does not occur separately from the others. They do not occur in a predictable sequence. In other words, portions of Executive Support and Leadership are usually happening while Organization Planning and Analysis is underway. You will also find overlap across all areas.

More Information About Change Management