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Starting the Change Management Process (The Right Way)

So, we talked about proper business alignment.  

That process takes a year to begin with on a large-scale transformation project. Even in a relatively streamlined organization, it takes a year. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  

Normally, if you tell a client that a certain process will take two years, the typical reaction will be something along the lines of, “That’s way too long!” They can just see the dollar signs racking up because of the amount of people they have on those projects.  

But here’s the thing…. 

Change is expensive. People don’t want to do it. And they will fight tooth and nail to get around it. 

This is precisely why I say that there’s an investment involved when you decide to make a change – which is where the change management process comes in. And while this principle is true in life, it’s especially true from a financial perspective in a major organization.  

If you want to truly make a change that lasts – not just make a change, but a change that actually sticks and continues on – you need to spend a bunch of capital up front. Now, spending that capital does not necessarily have to mean throwing money and bodies at the problem.  

In fact, more than anything, it’s achieving proper business alignment. It’s the same Tetris exercise where you need to move all the pieces – in this case, people – around until they fit correctly. And that greases the skids for you to start really making some true progress.  

I still know people at major organizations who function as change management professionals, which is just a fancy way of saying that, in the course of the change management process, they train people to make sure that they understand how to use the new software and understand what their role is in the process. It’s a lot of soft skills; it’s a lot of going out in the field and holding hands. 

But the change management process is super, super critical. It takes time, and it costs money. And a lot of companies will say, “Well, where can we cut costs to make this more efficient?” Then there are two places where they will usually cut costs. They’ll cut training and change management – but only to a point where they’re still paying it lip service, but they’re not actually doing it right.  

Frankly, if you’re going to half-ass the change management process, you shouldn’t pay for it at all. Because the rewards, from a morale and a trust perspective, are remarkable if you have the right change management in your business holding people’s hands until those people realize that the change is better for both them and the organization, and also understand how they fit into it.  

Otherwise, by half-assing your change management efforts, you run the risk of making your employees certain that management doesn’t give a shit about them. And when that happens, your people tend to half-ass their use of whatever tool you give them because they feel like you just don’t give a damn, which is unfortunately true a certain percentage of the time.  

Ultimately, the things that take the most amount of time produce lasting change. If I’m going to sum it up, the best way forward is to focus on achieving the proper business alignment to get the change done in the first place, and then have the proper change management process at the end, with decent training and outreach.  

As much as I don’t want to use the term “hand holding,” that’s really what this piece is. It’s just soft skills, being empathetic towards the people that you’re working with. Those two steps go a long way towards making sure that the change will stick.  

And honestly, if you’re going to be sinking millions of dollars into something, you want to make sure that it’s not a temporary thing. Especially if the project at hand involves taxpayer dollars. But whether this is the case or not, you should care enough about the change you’re making to make it correctly, to the best of your abilities and those of your people. 

If you’ve got a change in the pipeline, and you’re looking to make it last, let’s talk.