Change: Before, During, After
By Christian Bisson
When planning to move forward with a change that will impact your colleagues, it is important to remember that you must manage what comes before the change, during the change, and after the change.
Before you proceed with changing a process, a tool, or anything else, you have to keep in mind that the more informed the others are, the better. In times of change, people need to feel safe in what’s coming and the more unknown their is, the less safe they will feel. Therefore, explain the reasons of the change, the plan, and how they will be supported not only throughout the change, but after.
Make sure people can ask questions or talk to someone to express their concerns or their ideas. How you communicate with colleagues at this stage will give them a first impression on what’s coming, and you want to make sure they have a good first impression in order to reduce resistance.
Another important aspect to plan before the change occur is training the other, and prepare the proper documentation for them (i.e. tutorials). This could range from preparing them on how a new process will work, to teaching them how to use a new tool.
While you are in the midst of your change, this is where many questions will come up since people will start to be actively affected by the change. It’s also when the most frustration or confusion can rise so it’s important to make sure people know they can contact someone who will give them prompt support.
There is also a time where you might need to adjust your change (change the change!). With more people coming onboard, you may find out that there is a flaw in the process that needs to be tweaked, or the tutorial created wasn’t as clear as you thought. Adjust this immediately, people will appreciate that these are being adjusted to accommodate them or improve what is happening.
Once the change is completed, a bad habit is to think it’s all over and you can “let go”. That is far from true. Even with a proper training and several questions answered, people will need a good amount of support for a while, and it’s important to still give prompt support as it happens. Fortunately, as time passes, support needed will reduce.
Lastly, like any project, it is a very good practice to have a lessons learned meeting and assess what to improve for next time. It’s also very important to gather feedback from the others to find out how they thought the experience was and how it could be better.
Christian Bisson is a project manager from Montreal, QC, Canada. His PM experience is concentrated in the Internet world, and he helped deliver over a 100 projects over his PM years. You can read more from Christian on his blog.