By APTMetrics’ Mary Keegin
Change management is a term which many are familiar with in the HR consulting world, and generally refers to any approach to transition individuals, teams, and organizations to new (and hopefully improved) methods, structures, and processes to carry out work. Any effective organizational change requires organizations to undertake a conscious set of initiatives that will allow employees to understand, accept, and adapt to the change. It is important for organizations to recognize the opportunity to leverage change management tactics for changes of any scale, especially when partnering with a consulting firm whose identity and role may be unclear for many organizational members.
During many HR consulting engagements, a limited number of organizational stakeholders are involved in communicating the purpose, scope, timeline, and deliverables of the project, even when the outcomes of the project will affect a large number of employees.
As HR consultants, we have an opportunity to partner with clients in these organizations to integrate change management into a project. The following points describe factors that typically increase the likelihood that an organizational change will be successful:
1. Establish a plan: Develop a plan to identify and include key influencers within the affected parts of the client organization (influencers should extend beyond those on the client project team) and develop measurable goals to engage employees with the project. Create a detailed plan for communicating about various aspects of the project including key milestones, deliverables, and implementation plans. Identify potential roadblocks to the project and incorporate a strategy to address and remove them.
2. Communicate: Utilize identified influencers within the client organization to champion the vision and purpose of the project throughout the project lifecycle, address employee concerns, and establish buy-in from employees. Tailor communication based on the impact of the project for key groups and how the project will benefit them.
3. Implement change: Provide clear guidelines to monitor the implementation of project deliverables and arm the client organization with a plan for training and developing employees as applicable. Ensure that influencers are providing the client project team with feedback from employees during this time.
4. Foster future readiness for change: Follow-up with influencers and assist the client project team in making a plan for communication with influencers at regular intervals to encourage input regarding future change.
These guidelines may seem to follow from common sense, but are a necessity for maximizing the long-term value of consulting engagements. A purposeful approach to change management is invaluable to client organizations, and further establishes the credibility of a consulting firm.