Have you ever been cooking and realized somewhere along the process that you missed a key ingredient? Once you’ve figured it out, you’re left with three options:
- Start over.
- Skip the ingredient altogether.
- Throw it in anyway and hope for the best.
When we choose the third option, our dish usually doesn’t taste quite like we expected. We don’t get the result we were looking for.
Companies tend to attack projects much like #3 when it comes to change management. However, change management is a key ingredient when it comes to achieving success. It’s one that needs to be added in the beginning.
Three reasons to start change management work early:
1. Teams won’t follow their leaders off a cliff.
The employees who are impacted by your projects, your stakeholders and target users, are smart people. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be working for your company today. Each of these stakeholders has a functioning mind that is both capable of making its own decision and insists on doing so. They’re not lemmings who will follow us off the cliff just because we tell them to keep walking. You need a well-thought-out plan in place from the onset.
2. Employees need time to accept a new way of working.
Each stakeholder and impacted party will have to make the decision to buy-in and adopt the new way of working, be it using a new technology or adapting to a new process, individually. And that decision will take time. Each person will have to understand the new technology or process that is coming, understand its benefits, and ultimately see the value for them. Only then will they choose to jump on board, resulting in them actually looking for, reading and paying attention to the communications that come from the project team, and going to training AND absorbing the content.
3. Implementations require massive amounts of preparation.
To understand the magnitude of what we’re talking about here, think of a technology project that may be underway in your organization. That technology project may have a single technical go-live event – one huge day (or weekend) to prepare for. For that same technology implementation, you will have a change management implementation for every user of that new technology. So, for example, if we have a technology implementation that impacts 3,000 users, there will be 3,000 change management implementations. Each person is a unique, dynamic individual that we, the Change Management project team, have to “convert” by meeting them where and in ways meaningful to them they are if we expect them to be onboard with us. That’s a lot of work.
I tell my clients all the time, “you can’t start change management work too early, but you can start it too late!” It takes time to move people so that they are ready, willing, and able to accept new ways of working and be competent and productive on Day 1.
Download our guide, How to Overcome 5 Change Management Mistakes, for more insights.