August 27, 2014

How to Implement and Manage Successful Change Programs

implementing change

In today’s organizations, the rate of change has never been more rapid or more constant. Whether the change is a small one, like the implementation of a new system, or a much bigger one such as a company takeover or merger, the way that change is managed makes all the difference to its success or failure. Good change management training is essential for supporting leaders and managers to effectively drive change throughout their organizations.

People rarely welcome change. As human beings we tend to be adverse to change and, in a world which is increasingly changing at an alarming rate, people can be skeptical and resistant to anything that threatens the status quo of their working lives. It is also fair to say that not all change is positive. Sometimes it seems that doing things differently does not actually equal doing things better in the long run.

With this in mind, introducing change and transformation has to be done carefully, sensitively and collaboratively. Managing people through change training courses equips leaders and managers with the essential skills to seamlessly implement change within their organizations.

3 Stages of Implementing Change

1) Communicate the Rationale Behind the Need for Change

The first stage of introducing any change, however large or small, is to explain to employees why it is important for the change to occur and the intended benefits. This needs to be handled carefully and communicated to all affected parties. There should also be adequate opportunity for people to voice their concerns and contribute their thoughts, views and opinions.

Missing out on this stage of the process will almost certainly damage the change process before it has even properly begun.

2) Implement the Change in Phases

Change is usually best received when it is implemented in bite sized chunks, unless of course, this is impossible (as in the case of mass redundancy or bankruptcy). Most change can be broken down into phases that can be reviewed along the way.

Collaboration is key so, if circumstances allow, having a pilot group of employees to test the change before it is fully embedded is a good way to ensure that more people ‘buy in’ to what is happening and why.

3)  Evaluate, Review and Report on Change

Careful monitoring of the entire change process is essential in order to be able to measure its impact and evaluate its success. People need to be kept informed about how things are progressing, the results that are occurring and whether the change program has met its objectives.

An organization’s intention when it decides to embark on a change program is usually to make improvements. It is, therefore, important that employees understand whether the change has had the desired effects and what is to be done if further work is needed.

Change Quote Photo via Shutterstock

11 Comments ▼

Dale Kirke


Dale Kirke Dale Kirke works as a learning and development specialist at Thales Training and Consultancy focused on growing leadership skills development, building great teams and encouraging high performance. Dale has designed and delivered a range of learning and development solutions specialising in the areas of leadership and management, people and performance management, interpersonal skills and team development.

11 Reactions

  1. It’s quite hard to introduce change especially to an organization that is so used to what it is doing. I totally agree with what is included in this website. Changes must be introduced in phases and it must be properly explained to everyone before it is even initiated.

  2. Thank you for the post. I totally agree with you on the last point. With so much flux and motion, what has been, in your experience, the most effective way of monitoring change? I am particularly curious to know what you would see as the major indicators to measure.

  3. Hi Dale, thanks for pointing out these simple but often overlooked rules.

    Rule #1 sounds so much like common sense, but if you skip over this step — assuming “everyone already knows” — then nothing you say or do afterward will be received well.

    Not only that, but I’ve found that adults in a company, no matter how smart or educated they are, need repetitive communication. We don’t “hear” everything, not everything sinks in the first time, people’s minds wander and they are not paying attention, we may not assimilate all the information and apply it to our own situation like we should, and so on. There are many reasons a message simply doesn’t get through the first time. Or even the second time.

    A colleague of mine had a saying and I think he was right. He’d say “You have to set out to OVER-communicate, just to barely communicate enough, in business settings.”

    - Anita

  4. Barbara Klingensmith

    Instead of using the word “Change” what would happen if we used the word “Growth”?

  5. All these suggestions are excellent. However sometimes you can keep talking about the change, why we are making it, how it will work, etc, and staff may keep on resisting. At some point, the leader has to push it through and be ready for the backlash if there is any. You will never get consensus on changes and if it’s important enough, you have to take the plunge.

  6. I think in times of change, management really needs to be in micro-manage mode to ensure that everything goes off without any snags. Many employees actually fear change and with good reason. Their jobs are important to them and their families, so by having management handle the change and ensuring that everyone is on board, it will make people rest easier and be more susceptible to it.

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