THE 7 STEPS TO INTERNALIZING THE CHANGE MANAGEMENT FUNCTION
The team that is identified as the best equipped to support managers in their ongoing change management role must proceed in an orderly fashion, by going through the following 7 steps:
1. Defining Strategic Intent and Positioning
This is about understanding where the organization is starting from in terms of change management, and defining where it wants to go. The more empowered the managers are, the more the proposed infrastructure must allow itself to act as a guide. Inversely, a higher level of involvement in the change management infrastructure implies a higher level of change implementation in project mode. One thing is certain: the infrastructure to which the change management function belongs has to be a formal entity within the organization, with a mission to develop, maintain, share and supply the required change-management expertise, methodology, tools and processes for the entire organization.
2. Assessing the Projects and Evaluating the Organization’s Capacities
This is the diagnostic phase of the process, aimed at assessing the change projects, as well as internal change management practices. The first assessment will be accompanied by an analysis of the impacted stakeholders, which allows you to acquire a cross-functional vision of the different changes operating within the organization, along with the issues and risks that come with them. The second assessment allows you to evaluate the organization’s level of maturity when it comes to change management. This will serve to establish the true requirements in terms of change management and guidance.
3. Defining the Change Management Service Offering
Setting up a change management service offering implies having an in-depth understanding of the key responsibilities involved, as presented in the chart below:
4. Elaborating an Implementation Strategy & Plan
Elaborating a change management strategy is like taking your own medicine. It involves determining what you want to accomplish in the short, medium and long terms, and how you want to accomplish it. Your plan must spell out how you intend to manage change, how and to whom you will communicate it, whom you need to influence, etc. The more specific your strategy, the more control you’ll have over its implementation.
5. Elaborating Processes and Tools
Identifying and adopting a structured approach to change management is essential in order to organize the required phases. It also helps you make all the organization’s stakeholders understand the importance of not skipping any steps.
6. Targeting the Required Skills and Making Sure They Are Developed
Change management requires specific skills, because one of the most important tasks is to cultivate a capacity to adapt to change quickly and profitably. This capacity for change is essential in making sure the organization can seize and develop business opportunities. So do these required skills exist within the organization? Are they sufficient, or do they need to be developed or enhanced with external resources? These are questions that you’ll need to answer to properly identify your requirements and elaborate your financing model for the necessary resources.
7. Implementing a Community of Practice
The importance of implementing a community of practice lies in the fact that there’s always a gap between knowing and doing. Organizations know they need to be agile in terms of change, but unfortunately, change is hard. Implementing a community of practice allows you to monitor the organization’s needs as they evolve. This way, the practices and skills of the people guiding the managers can evolve as well.
In 2012, a Prosci study revealed that 50% of organizations with an established corporate change-management function dedicated no more than 5 internal resources to this function.
Implementing change management in an organization does not necessarily require setting up a dedicated structure, unless the projects are so major that they cannot be managed within existing operations. Rather, we believe that if an organization’s managers are sensitive to change management, a lighter, more agile structure can get the job done. The Human Resources team, for example, can very effectively play the role of change catalyst and facilitator, provided it works closely with management and is allowed to play a strategic role in the organization’s evolution.