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Best Practice Steps to Successfully Plan for Change

Planning for change initiatives is not an easy task. We often forget some very essential steps that will help ensure success of the change initiative. If you want to have a successful change initiative, take these best practice steps in planning for the initiative:

  1. Get Smart: Be sure you understand the change that needs to happen, why it needs to happen, and who needs to be involved. You’ll need to be able to answer questions that arise from employees.
  2. Clarify: Is the business ready for change? What else is going on that may impact this change initiative project? Do you have the right people within the business to support the initiative or do you need to bring in external consultants/resources?
  3. Buy-In: Do you have the buy-in you need? Not just from the top, but from throughout the organization? Remember that most change initiatives affect how employees perform their role. They must be champions of the initiative for it to be successful. Which leads us to…..
  4. Educate/Socialize: You must be sure employees are educated about what is going on and why. Too often I hear from clients that their change initiatives in the past have not been successful. When we dive into the details, it is obvious they never educated employees about the need for the change initiative. Socializing the upcoming effort before you start is essential to get buy-in and support and convert those against it to champions.  Quick tip…each project plan I develop for such initiatives always includes up front time (built into the plan) for socializing the initiative.
  5. Communicate: Frequent communications is essential. Keep employees updated on what is happening with the change initiative through a variety of formats: emails, internal newsletters, individual meetings, small group or department meetings, all staff meetings, etc. Rarely do I see clients over-communicate; usually they under-communicate.
  6. Transition and Train: How a plan for transition to the new process, procedure, or whatever other change was put in place. Be sure that before you transition you train those who need training so that they are comfortable with what needs to be done.
  7. Lessons Learned: Capture what went well and where you could improve next change initiative project. Use this information for future projects so that you can continuously improve how things get done in the business. I set up an internal portal for my clients to capture and retain lessons learned for easy access by everyone in the business.
  8. Evaluate: Fairly soon after you launch the change initiative, check in with everyone involved to be sure they are doing well with the change. Answer any questions they may have and be sure they are comfortable and confident. After a reasonable period of time for things to be working under the new process, procedure, etc – evaluate the change made and how effective it is for the business and the employees.  Do small “tweaks” need to be made to improve? Get the right people involved to make improvements.

Remember – successful change initiatives requires successful upfront planning! Don’t shortchange the process and remember – CONSTANT COMMUNICATION is essential!

What about you? What steps do you take to ensure a successful outcome to your change initiatives? What do you struggle with? Please share your ideas, best practices and challenges with others in the Comments field below. Thanks!

Related article: Managing Change Initiatives