Updated: Apr 15, 2021
In this article, we highlight 3 change management models you should know as a Talent Pro + 4 change management hacks to use today for your talent projects.
"Powerful and sustained change requires constant communication, not only throughout the rollout but after the major elements of the plan are in place. The more kinds of communication employed, the more effective they are." –DeAnne Aguirre
As a Talent Development Pro, you need to have a working knowledge of change management as a part of your toolkit and make a practice of using those tools for just about every project you have. Really, all HR Pros would benefit from change management fundamentals.
There are a handful of really great change management models, all with their own best applications and pros and cons. For your next project, choose one and apply it. Learn the basics of the model and how to get the best use from it for your customer groups.
In this article, we'll highlight three models that are great places to begin if you're new to change management + four change management hacks you should use today for your talent projects.
Change Management Models
If you're just getting started with change management, there are three models I recommend you learn about (in no particular order):
Kübler-Ross - The Five Stages of Grief
An ever-useful model on the five stages of grief by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross that applies to just about every work and life situation dealing with change. I'm sure you've seen the graphs like the one below that summarize how people's emotions shift when confronted with change. We humans are an emotional lot, so understanding this model will help with just about all the talent dev work you do. This article from Change Management Insight provides a great summary.
Established by Jeff Hiatt and featuring the ADKAR model. ADKAR is a neat, logical model that supports behavior change. The Prosci website is a wealth of information on their change management model. I got lost for at least an hour surfing, reviewing and learning new things.
Kotter established his model for change management in Leading Change in the mid-1990s. He revised his approach with the eight-step model in Accelerate, written in 2014. His model is thorough, incorporating elements needed to set-up a change strategy and engage people's hearts.
Each model mentioned above takes a different approach and results in positive effects if you apply the principles and stick with them. I am not a change management expert, so I like to serve myself buffet-style from the change management model menu. Experts I've worked with dial-in to a particular model and stick with it. Whatever floats your boat. The point is to include a change management perspective in projects you are supporting or managing that will impact employees in any way.
There are plenty of resources and articles available on change management. ATD (Association for Talent Development) has a topical page for members with useful resources, and would be a helpful place to browse as you look for alternative points-of-view and more depth.
If you have a change management resource we should know about, share in the comments below.
Change Management Hacks You Should Be Using Today
As I mentioned above, I am not a change management guru, but I do have a few notches on my belt and ideas for you on some of the best change resources you should be using with your HR and talent projects.
1. Articulate a Case for Change… then use it everywhere
A case for change is a clear picture of the end-result of your program or project and how it will benefit the user, in our case, usually employees.
Per BeingFirst.com, "Your case for change is different than your business case. A business case typically outlines the financial requirements and incentives for the project. Your case for change and desired outcomes will engage employees and convey to your stakeholders why they should invest in the effort required by the change. It is the statement that informs and compels them to engage and contribute. If they don’t understand the 'why,' they won’t get on board."
Creating a great case of change takes effort and time. It's not an easy task to breakdown a complex business case into the WIIFM ("what's in it for me" statement) for your employee group. But the outcome is worth it. Employees will more often get on-board with a concise, simple picture of that tempting green grass on the other side of the fence that you've painted.
"…much of what happens in business is vague and confusing. It's unclear what will happen next, because no one has figured it out yet. As a result, people ask you to do so many things that don't make sense and that won't make a difference. If you want people to act, be 100% clear about what will happen next." -Bruce Kasnoff on Forbes
I like the perspective that Bruce Kasnoff on Forbes takes on change communications, which is to target your communications to the attention span of a 7-year old. Spot on. Create a central message that appeals to our inner 7-year old - one that we can understand, get excited about and apply simply.
2. Put yourself in employees' shoes and wear them all the time
Slip on your employee shoes and wear them throughout project implementation. With every decision that you work through, apply the employee-first lens. Not all decisions we make about talent programs and business changes result in immediate employee benefit, but having your employee-first perspective in place reminds you to work through how to communicate changes with them.
3. Build a comprehensive communication plan
If you don't have a basic communication plan for every project you are rolling out to employees, shame on you. As the complexity of a project increases, so should the comprehensiveness of your communication plan. Never assume that employees will just figure it out. Some will; most won't. Tell them what they need to know in a manner in which they will understand, and tell them a lot. You know the old anecdote about needing to hear a message seven times before you remember / get / understand it. Yep. Work that into your communication plan. When you get really bored with the messaging, keep at it. Employees are just getting it. When they start complaining that "it's" all you talk about, bingo!
When I say communication plan, I mean a thorough review of who your stakeholders are (see hack #4) and what they need to know about the project. Then be proactive in creating a plan that communicates to them frequently and consistently. Don't allow for gaps where folks begin to wonder what's happening with the project. Use the media venues available to you in your organization - email updates, newsletters, blogs, Teams pages, team huddles, personal updates, leader videos, intranet postings, bobble heads, vinyl floor decals pointing the way, whatever works in your culture. Make friends with the communication department. Use all appropriate venues. Be clear and build excitement.
4. Do a stakeholder analysis
Stakeholders are people within your organization who have a stake in your program, whether as a user, influencer, executive sponsor, partner, random guy who has an opinion about everything, etc. It's a great use of time to figure out who your stakeholders are and then map them out on an Influence - Interest matrix, like this one at Medium.com:
In fact the article at Medium.com offers great recommendations on how to engage stakeholders in each quadrant. A mapping exercise before you complete your communication plan will help ensure you've covered all the basics.
We began the article with a quote, so let's close with one:
"The people must have ownership in the vision. They need to be enabled to accomplish it. If there is one investment you should make, it is in people." –Modesta Lilian Mbughuni
In any talent development or HR project you drive, support or advocate, don't forget about the people. People's acceptance and behavior change make or break a project. Prosci shares that projects including excellent change management practices are six times more likely to meet objectives than those with poor change management. Six times! Even with mediocre change management plans you can make a big impact on project outcomes. And now you've got four hacks to make it easier to give change management time on your to-do list.
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