The only constant in life is change. Businesses are no exception to this rule. The creation of new technology, continuous change to culture, more empowered customers, evolving workforce demographics, and increased social ways of doing business continue to evolve rapidly and in turn, increase the pace and impact of change. That's why successful change management is a prerequisite to successful client work management platform adoption and business transformation.
Change management is defined as the systematic approach of utilizing the people within your organization to minimize resistance to and affect organizational change. Organizational change management provides the strategy and execution to respond to the natural resistance to change, mitigate productivity loss during the transition, minimize disruption to the business during the project, ensure the desired change objectives are realized, create an environment for sustained change and demonstrate a real commitment to the organization's most valued asset — its people.
However, it is critical to remember that CRM is a journey and not a destination. We're going to share four common change management models that will help your business move through a transformation with ease:
The Kurt Lewin's Unfreeze-Change-Refreeze model is exactly what it sounds like: Unfreeze > Change > Re-freeze. In the unfreeze stage, you are essentially breaking down the current way of doing business and noting what needs to change. It’s crucial in this stage to obtain two-way feedback of what needs to change (vs. solely top-down).
After noting and communicating the need for change, gather the key stakeholders necessary to proactively implement what needs to be done. Once everyone has bought in, “re-freeze” in the sense that the change is institutionalized and consistently used in the new manner.
In our experience, this model focuses more on the process than people. If you have a smaller team with less emotion to manage, this is a viable option.
The ADKAR® model breaks down the human side of managing change. The idea is you should work through each letter of the acronym, focusing heavily on the individuals within your company.
Awareness: The goal is to learn the business reasons for change. At the end of this stage, everyone should be bought in.
Desire: This is dedicated to getting everyone engaged and willingly participating in the change. Once you have full buy-in, the next stage is measuring if the individuals in your company want to help and become part of the process.
Knowledge: In this stage, you’re working toward understanding how to change. This can come in the form of formal training or simple one-on-one coaching, so those affected by the change feel prepared to handle it.
Ability: Focus on how to implement the change at the required performance level. Knowing the required job skills are only the beginning. The people involved need to be supported in the early stages to ensure they can incorporate change.
Reinforcement: Sustain the change. This final step is often the most missed.
Unlike Lewin’s model, this focuses on the people-side of change. We like its idea of using reinforcement to make your changes stick and this model takes it a step further. It’s a good approach to consider if you have a larger team or a more complex problem you’re trying to solve.
In his 1995 book, "Leading Change," Harvard Business School professor, John Kotter, lays out 8 stages all companies must go through to see effective change management.
Create urgency through open dialogue that leads others in the organization to want the change as much as you.
Form a powerful coalition of change agents in your organization - this goes beyond leadership and management.
Create a vision for change to reinforce the why behind it and the strategy to achieve the end result.
Communicate the vision regularly to ease team anxiety and reinforce the why.
Remove obstacles to pave the way for the needed changes to happen.
Create short-term wins to keep up morale and show the team you’re moving in the right direction.
Build on the change by analyzing what worked and what didn't.
Anchor the changes in corporate culture as standard operating procedure and reinforce why change is necessary.
If you have a more agile team, this model's iterative short-term wins and building based on what you learn as you go, sync nicely with the agile methodology.
Get ahead of the curve with this newer model based on the bestselling book, "Radical Candor," written by Kim Scott. The book recommends focusing on the following steps:
Listen to the ideas of your team and create a culture where they listen to each other
Clarify your team's ideas to ensure they're conveyed accurately
Debate the topic at hand in a supportive, encouraging environment
Decide the best idea after a thorough discussion
Persuade the rest of the team that the idea is credible, effective, and worth pursuing
Execute the idea with autonomy and purpose
Learn from the results - good or bad
At Accelo, I notice how we include this approach in our day-to-day product development. We obtain ideas from our frontline of dedicated staff who hear firsthand what our clients need to run their businesses better. We also rely on our Ideas Forum to obtain and leverage feedback, this is critical when determining our product roadmap. Internally, we strive to improve our goal processes and collaboratively sync to make a positive impact across the business every day.
Of course, there are many more models for you to choose from than just these four, but realize there may not be just one model that fits your organization best.
If you’re anything like us, you may want to take a page from several of these models to improve your communication and effectiveness in times of change.
Here at Accelo, we are always looking for ways to improve, which means we have a lot of change going on all the time. It's important to know, though, that there is rarely a beginning and a clear-cut end like the more traditional models. As a leader, you can choose a model, or a mix of models like what we do at Accelo, to help organize effective, lasting change in your organization.
Change really is constant, and developing a model that works for your business is the best way you can manage the people side of change and set everyone up for success. By incorporating your team via the communication methods outlined above, you can empower and enable your team to take action--and have pride in the change they helped make.