Why Change Management is Often Forgotten and Why it Matters

by EMM Group

White Papers

In a business environment where change happens faster than planning can account for and the “ready, fire, aim” mentality takes over more often than it should, the concept of change management often gets forgotten. But, without it, a company can end up moving very quickly, but getting nowhere.

What exactly is change management?

Put simply, change management involves preparing for and guiding the people involved in change to reach a business outcome. Training development, creating new business processes, buying new equipment… all those changes can be planned out on paper and executed with fairly little complication.

That is, until people get involved.

People are naturally resistant to change. They need to be convinced a change is in their best interests, provided with necessary information, tools, and resources, and given enough time to comfortably come to grips with change in order to fully support it and make it work.

That’s where change management comes in.

Why does change management matter?

Change Management is one of the four essential components of every marketing excellence program.

To illustrate, let’s look at the development of a new and improved training program in a typical fast-paced corporate marketing department.

The new training development program that’s being proposed is a dramatic shift from its predecessor: new materials, new blended learning methods, and senior team members are being tagged to train rather than bringing in an outside trainer or leaving it up to HR.

Across the board, these changes are affecting people. Old ways of doing things are being phased out, new methods and best practices will be advocated, and the training is being done by internal associates who may or may not even be interested in assisting. Most importantly this may be yet another initiative among a slew of others that are being thrown at already over-worked teams.

If this entire arrangement were just dropped in the laps of the marketing team, what would be the effect?

At best, the new program would get off to a very rocky start and eventual learning transfer would be minimal to non-existent. At worst, all out rebellion against the change could cause the initiative to grind to a halt. In either case, time and money are wasted and morale is bruised.

Now, imagine a different scenario:

Before the new training initiative is even fully fleshed out, a smart Junior VP in Marketing begins pulling in team members and executive leadership alike for informal conversations around changing the training development process and where they can see themselves fitting into an adjusted arrangement. Suggestions are noted and included in the planning process. Feelings are acknowledged, fear is assuaged, and excitement is built.

We’ve successfully unveiled the program so that issues have been addressed, management has bought in, and participants feel informed and understand how it will help them perform better and how it will help the company succeed.

Next the training is rolled out in a way that allows the participants to work in teams, apply the new techniques and actually get their work done. That work is then used in everyday decision-making, drives successes and, with successes, more momentum builds.

The outcome is the process is bought into and the capabilities to deliver it are being built.

How do you make this happen in your organization?

Effective change management begins with a wide-angle view of the people and processes upcoming changes will affect. Change has a ripple effect that spreads outward and touches multiple teams across the organization. Getting to those people before the change hits is vital if you hope to see the change implemented with minimal friction. Proving the success after the change hits them aligns leaders, builds momentum and increases the desire to learn and do things the new way.

Getting buy-in from business units and functional leaders up and down the line is key to introducing change that’s going to be supported, reinforced, and applied. Failing to do so is simply failing.

Architecting a change management program is not easy and there are no silver bullets. It needs to be thought of early, managed often and is essential to any business initiative that involves people. We suggest companies focus on fewer initiatives with a change management program embedded if they want to achieve a sustainable difference.


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