How can enlisting your project team managers as change champions impact the successful delivery of change?
Managing change successfully is more often than not the most challenging aspect of any business or technology project. Delivering successful change can rarely be achieved satisfactorily via a paint-by-numbers approach.
Each project has its own unique change challenges and it often requires a nuanced approach to be successful. The techniques that worked for previous projects may not be appropriate for future projects as each business change is different. Furthermore, the change responsibilities often fall to a single individual change manager who may be covering an impacted user population in the hundreds or even thousands.
Given this relationship dynamic of one-to-many how can a change manager better leverage the project team to help deliver successful change?
Make all team members change champions
Project team members are a valuable asset in delivering change, mainly because they are in constant contact with user groups being affected by change. Where possible project team members, in particular, business-facing personnel such as business analysts, should be used to explain and promote business change during their interaction with those user groups.
Project team members need to be identified and engaged so that they fully understand the reason for change, the benefits of change and the change approach. This will help to mitigate against potentially adverse business impacts.
Project team members are at the coalface: they will be faced with constant questions about what the changes will mean to user groups. As change champions, they will need to be equipped with the correct change information but more importantly, they also need to understand their greater responsibility to the project in helping deliver change.
Use the project team to gain insights
Taking an ivory tower approach to gathering information and planning changes is usually detrimental to effective implementation of change.
Be prepared to utilise your project team to help capture information that may be of use to the change approach being implemented. The change manager should be actively establishing the right relationships within the team from the start and setting up regular forums to gather, review and validate insights that allow the change approach to be measured on an ongoing basis.
They are on the ground; they know what will work
Once the relationships with the project team members are established, the change manager should be prepared to listen.
The team members are the boots on the ground for the project. They can often be spending significant amounts of time with or embedded in the business. Whilst they may not be trained in change management they will be a very good source of information as to what will work due to their insights into the user groups.
Adapt the change approach as appropriate
Like a project, the successful delivery of change can be a journey of discovery.
Once the insights have been captured and validated, the change manager should be willing to adjust the approach to delivering the change as required.
Rigid, fixed thinking can limit the execution of successful change so be prepared to take the information gathered by the team during the life of the project to adapt the change approach as required to increase the chances of success.
Ensure you have substance, not just technical style
Ultimately the success of any project is greatly dependent on the effectiveness of the change effort. An eloquent technical implementation is not enough if not accompanied by good change management.
So it remains in the best interests of all project team members that the change is delivered effectively. The change manager should harness this dynamic wherever possible to expand the pool of potential change resources at their disposal and set up the relationships in such a way that they get full benefit of this expanded change team.
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