In part 1 the Success Factors Approach (SFA) of change management was introduced. Notably, the key prerequisites for the model to work, an overview of the process, and a clarification of the roles of those leading the change. In part 2, the success factors that affect many substantive changes and their impact are presented.
Global Success Factors
There is a typical set of global success factors that likely pertain to every substantive organizational change. These likely exist too at the micro levels of our constant, everyday change. These success factors become increasingly important as the stakes of the change grow. For example, changing the layout of the cafeteria has its own set of success factors, but these factors may not be nearly as risky as the factors associated with systemic change such as a complete reorganization or a systemic time-and-attendance conversion.
One of the global success factors in change is helping people to personally adapt to it. For this to occur organizations and managers must be clear about why we are changing. This is surprisingly overlooked. Good problem solving requires a clear definition of the problem. Therefore, the why of change needs to be well-articulated (simple, digestible, and meaningful) into a change story. To what extent do our stakeholders know what is changing, what is not changing, why we are changing, and what is expected of us in this process? What happens when we don’t make this change? How will things be better because of it? Who will be impacted, how? What are the risks of not doing the change or doing it poorly?
Guiding Principles & Values
Identifying our guiding principles is also key. What are the principles that we will subscribe to? These often parallel the values that the company already adopted. It’s important to revisit these values and clarify them as it relates to the change. More importantly, articulate how the values show up in practice. The values will serve as guiding principles; there may be some values that were previously unaccounted for that we need to identity in terms of the change at hand.
Stakeholder Inventory & Engagement
It is vital to inventory the stakeholders involved in change -even those impacted in small ways or even objective outsiders. These participants will further ensure objectivity and be able to identify factors that may be easily overlooked because our more primary stakeholders may be too close to the change.
I believe that Change Readiness is the ultimate success factor because all change is personal. Readiness is in the hearts and minds of those changing. We all experience it differently. This is why change can’t possibly be linear at the organizational or personal level. Ultimately, our success hinges in our ability to understand and engage with our stakeholders, the ones being asked to change. Their level of readiness will warrant a unique approach as everyone will have a different level of readiness for change often with good reasons. When it comes to engaging stakeholders, are we telling people to change or are we asking people to go on a change journey with us? Have we explained the “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM)? This is not a one-time event. Just like our success factors approach in general, stakeholders must be engaged in an ongoing fashion to reap the rewards of change adoption.
To further home in the idea of change being personal, think of the Kübler Ross Change Curve, which has its basis in the grief process. This lens makes sense since change is a form of [personal] loss. In this model there are stages of shock, denial, frustration, depression, experiment, decision, and integration. This model too was not meant to be linear as people are very complex and experience loss, or change, very uniquely. Readiness for change, the personal aspect of it, is at the bedrock of change.
Identity is another means of thinking about the personal aspect of change. This is a real issue during change especially when the change feels like we are asking someone to change who they are through new roles (i.e., becoming a manager), new companies (i.e., mergers or acquisitions), or changes in reporting structure (i.e., redesign) to name a few.
Personal factors that contribute to someone’s views and adoption of change may include their values, identity, the history with previous changes, their anchors, and principles to name a few. All of these, and others, play a part in someone’s readiness to change. We need not villainize people because they are resistant as this will only make it worse. Instead, seek first to understand by honoring their past and present. Help them understand the why and consider giving them a role to play in the change. Once people have a role to play, their attitude often changes.
While communication is embedded into all of our success factors, it is worth mentioning as a standalone consideration. There are many factors to consider when communicating.
- The change story – what is it?
- Communication channels / feedback loops, including all layers of the organizational hierarchy and identify ways to engage external stakeholders
- Using multiple channels
- Consistent, complimentary, purposeful, and stakeholder-specific messaging
- Proactive and ongoing success factors meetings and stakeholder engagement meetings
Regardless of if you think the world needs another change management model, the Success Factors Approach is a useful way to help manage change. This is important regardless of your personal paradigm on change management. The SFA proactively and consistently helps to identity and manage the numerous variables that affect the efficacy of corporate change. Clarifying the various roles of those leading the change, including the Master Change (MC) agent, will be a vital and early step in this process. Success in using this approach also depends on how consistent the variables are identified and managed and the level of organizational support for investing in change adoption.