Change is hard. Enacting successful change within an organization requires constant focus on communication, stakeholder engagement, training and organizational readiness. When you dive into each area of focus, it becomes easy to see why many organizations dedicate full-time resources to focus on managing change across the organization. However, the reality is that a lot of companies simply don’t have the resources to dedicate to this kind of focused change management. So what’s a project manager or team member to do? The answer is simple; engage in incognito change management. This approach to change management is transparent to many project stakeholders, yet very effective in proactively managing stated and unstated barriers to adoption.
Let’s start with the basics by breaking down each of the key areas of change management. Think of an incognito change management effort being a pie, with each of the four slices being allocated a different percentage of your time. Once you understand the importance and scope of each key area, you will be able to integrate each consideration into every phase of a project, enacting incognito change management. The limitation, of course, will often be time. By leveraging areas of strength from across the organization, however, you can shift your focus accordingly. For example, an organization with a strong leadership base and clear vision may not need as much focus on organizational readiness. Or a company with a training department may need less guidance in the training piece of the pie.
At SEI, we have identified a few best practices to support incognito change management when time and resources are limited. If you have started enacting change within your organization, you are probably already doing some of these things without even being aware of it.
- Spend an hour at the beginning of the project (with a key stakeholder who is clearly bought into the change) digging into each key area to understand your pain points and items you want to ensure are covered. Be prepared for this meeting as this precious time should be effective.
- Consider a Change Readiness Assessment to identify stakeholders to get early buy-in. A Readiness Assessment helps quantify and qualify an organization’s willingness and ability to accept a new change. If hours are limited, these discussions can be assigned to another team member. Change may be more readily accepted by way of a conversation with an internal team member.
- Create buckets in your project plan to account for change management in each phase of the project and delegate the tasks associated with each bucket across your team (as able) to ensure that work is both allocated out and clearly assigned.
- As you go through the project phases, note objections early. Make every effort to address concerns directly and outside of large meetings. This is particularly important with project leadership. Ensure you’re checking in regularly with project leadership and that you clearly understand any concerns and address them with urgency.
- Above all, ensure that the vision of the change is clear and is being communicated regularly, ideally in existing meetings and materials. To achieve this, consider creating a communications plan and review it with key stakeholders to ensure there are no gaps.
The difference between a good change manager and a great one is often the latter’s ability to look down the road, see problems coming before they arise, and plan accordingly to prevent them. Incognito change management can help you progress from good to great by focusing on select pieces of the pie and following a few best practices. And when all else fails, we are here to help!