Change management is essential for any industry where documented, methodical change is frequent and necessary. Most organizations adhere to a change process that suits their industry’s unique needs; these vary from long, detailed processes to ones that are relatively short and simple.
While all change processes differ slightly, there are some aspects that remain constant. Even if you already have a reliable process for change management in place at your organization, it’s possible to make further improvements for efficiency and productivity. Consider the following best practices when re-evaluating your current process:
Create a formal plan for change
Many organizations may have a rote process for requesting, enacting, and managing change; however, they may lack a formal, written plan describing these steps and actions. While a formal plan may seem unnecessary if an organization seems to function fine without it, writing the information down is key for staying on track, limiting ambiguities and confusion, and ensuring that all members of the organization are sufficiently educated on the process. A formal plan also serves as a way to measure consistency and identify weaknesses more quickly.
Implement a change review board
Having a formal plan in place is important to an effective change management process, but without people to see the plan through to fruition (and to approve or reject the change requests in the first place), it lacks a key component. Organizations should designate particular team members as leaders and sponsors in the change process; without a change review board and individuals to take ownership over change initiatives, organizations may find it difficult to push changes through in a timely manner and to communicate the changes to the rest of the organization.
Communicate openly and often
Communication is key when change occurs. It can be easy to overlook the importance of not only announcing changes to the company as a whole, but also preparing employees for what the change will entail and if/how it will affect day-to-day processes throughout the organization. (For example -- if an organization changes the type of equipment it uses to manufacture a product, individuals working on the assembly line will need to be trained on how to work with the new equipment.) The more open communication that occurs throughout the change process, the better prepared your organization will be as a whole once the change reaches full implementation.
Measure performance and adapt
Measuring and studying results after a change has been implemented is equally as important as the change implementation itself. It’s crucial for organizations to closely monitor what happens after a change occurs, record the data, and then analyze that data to determine next steps. Based on these findings, stakeholders can decide whether the change successfully met expectations and fulfilled its purpose, and determine if adjustments or further changes should be made. A philosophy of continuous improvement is essential for organizations aspiring to grow and expand with time.
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