When an organization proposes any sort of major change, it’s bound to be viewed as exciting to some people and threatening to others. This is perhaps the biggest challenge to Organizational Change Management (OCM).

Cultivating not only acceptance, but support, is a necessary component for successfully managing nearly any change within a business. It doesn’t matter whether this is a big change or a little one, or whether it is driven by internal processes or the external market. People will need to change for the project to be a success.

People may have to alter their behavior, adopt new mindsets, learn and adapt to new processes and practices, adhere to a different set of policies, or make any number of other changes. All the people involved with the proposed change, aka “the stakeholders,” must be on board and committed for this project to be a success.

Best Practices for Organizational Change Management

Following a comprehensive and strategic set of OCM best practices will ensure that change management is a success within your organization. These best practices should be aligned with behavioral and organizational adjustments that will help accommodate change now, and sustain that change well into the future.

An ideal change management project will ensure that stakeholders understand how this change will affect them, have the support to make this change happen and possess the tools to overcome any challenges that may arise without too much frustration. It doesn’t matter how big or complex the organization is, or what kind of changes have been proposed—the best practices should be roughly the same. So what are the best practices for organizational change management? We’ve narrowed it down to the following seven best practices that all change managers should keep in mind throughout the entire transition:

1. Plan Carefully.

In order to implement successful changes, you will need to imagine what the best possible end result will look like once it’s all said and done. With this vision in place, then it’s a matter of listing and documenting the necessary tasks to accomplish it, and outlining how, and by whom, these tasks will be completed.

2. Define Your Governance.

Every successful change management project has a well-defined governance, which is basically the framework for making decisions and the set of pre-determined processes for implementing those decisions. Structures, roles and responsibilities must be established throughout each level of the organization in order to support change and keep stakeholders engaged.

3. Assign Leadership Roles.

It’s important that you establish dedicated organizational leaders, both at the top and throughout the organization, to keep the change management process stable. The chosen leaders should be committed, reliable and able to influence others to get on board through their example.

4. Keep Stakeholders in the Loop.

In order to ensure participation, support and commitment, it’s necessary to keep all stakeholders in the loop and updated during every step of the change management process. Lines of communication should be kept open so employees aren’t given information merely to help them understand what’s going on, but so they are also able to ask questions and voice their concerns along the process. When people feel as if they are being kept in the dark, or when they don’t understand what’s going on, they are bound to grow resentful and will inevitably slow the change process. A little bit of understanding and information about how this proposed change is going to benefit them will go a long way.

5. Find and Support Advocates.

There should be at least a few people who are ready to adopt the change early on, and these stakeholders can become your biggest advocates to help get other folks on board with the transition. Good advocates, of course, should also demonstrate strong leadership abilities as well as other professional and personal strengths that attract respect from others. By identifying these advocates early on, and providing them with additional training and engagement, you can set a more positive tone that will ensure a smoother process with fewer hiccups.

6. Constantly Assess and Review.

By monitoring the change as it’s happening, measuring whether its implementation is successful and making changes as necessary, you can avoid more costly mistakes later on. There are many different means, both formal and informal, for assessing and reviewing the change process. Basically the goal is to correct any issues quickly, and get feedback once corrections have been made to make sure the corrections are working.

7. Address Workforce Concerns.

It is critical that you keep the workforce aligned as you make changes within your organization. This requires a detailed understanding of how the change is affecting them and any worries and concerns they may have. You don’t want to get too far off course, but people’s needs must be addressed. If people are having a negative emotional impact they will never fully adapt.

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