Change management is hard because humans are biologically wired to resist change. It is in our DNA.
The part of the brain called the amygdala instinctively views change as a potential threat and releases hormones for the fear, fight, or flight response. In fact, when there isn’t a clear narrative, our brain creates a nasty one; typically based on the worst-case scenario.
So, that’s it! That’s why change is so hard for companies of every size to accomplish. Our brains are playing tricks on us.
While change is inevitable, growth is optional. Shifting global initiatives, evolving work cultures, and a disruptive pandemic are all drivers of business change. These waves in the work economy require organizations to lead with agility, be open to adapt, and operate with continued flexibility.
The name of the game is empowering employees to go beyond simply accepting the change, and making them an intricate part of the process. In working together, change management becomes less of a chore and leads to innovative development.
In this article, we’ll look at why change management is so important, the top trends right now, and how you can utilize these tips to transform your business.
Why Change Management?
Why does change need to be managed? Without it, business growth becomes a rocky and stagnant process. Company transitions end up costing valuable time and resources when you’re lacking a proper plan.
There are countless benefits to implementing change management. It creates a more positive work environment and boosts employee morale. Change management also improves communication, reduces stress, and increases productivity.
Additional reasons for why change management is such an important process include:
Drives More Successful Change
Effective change management drives a greater achievement of results and outcomes. It facilitates benefit realization and equates to a higher level of success on critical initiatives and projects.
It should be noted, success is incumbent upon how the change takes place. In a study by the Harvard Business Review, 60-70% of all the change initiatives undertaken in organizations fail. However, 81% of the projects with effective change management came in on or under budget.
Aligns Practice with Values
Change management is particularly useful for a business looking to align organizational practice with values. It helps management stay on track with what’s truly important for everyone involved. This is why human resources must have an influence in the process.
In fact, a recent survey of more than 550 HR leaders found top HR priorities are: organizational design and change management (48%), current and future leadership bench (45%), and the future of work (42%). This is why it’s so important to adopt change as part of company culture. We’ll discuss more on that below.
Handles the Volume of Change
Given the amount and frequency of changes that happen in today’s business world, becoming adept at implementing change is critical. The more tools you have to tighten up workflows, the more efficient processes become.
Future-proofs Your Organization
The horizon for many companies includes significant changes that are necessary to remain successful and competitive. In this way, change management helps to ready your business for future challenges.
Addresses Poorly Managed Change
Every company has a story of how they poorly managed change, some may even have a legacy. In this case, the situation did not deliver results, may have created extra stress, and even caused confusion throughout the organization.
Under-delivering on change is now something that cannot be tolerated and that’s where an effective change management strategy comes to play.
Change management helps to create efficiencies in your approach. Practices across an entire organization are much more effective when there’s a standard in place.
Builds Internal Capabilities
Change management is an essential organizational capability. It’s also an individual competency for employees.
Change Management Trends to Consider
Now that you understand the importance of a smart change management strategy, here are a few up-and-coming trends to keep an eye out for:
The Empathetic Path
The first step to any successful change management program is humanizing the process. Companies must view change management as something they desire to do, rather than a necessary evil for adapting to changes. Embracing change and the value it creates is what humanizes the process.
New trends in change management are framed around the employee experience and the importance of self-service. People need to feel like they are still in control and that the rug is not being ripped out from under them.
This involves viewing employees as individuals, rather than as a means to an end. The desire to help staff manage change will inspire their investment in the process and encourage them to go above and beyond the bare minimum.
What does this involve?
Dedication to Needs
It starts with tools, processes, and people dedicated to what an employee needs to get their job done, as well as what they need on an emotional level. It’s taking care of the entire person throughout the steps of change.
It’s up to savvy change managers to not only get employees on board, but get them excited about the project and fully engaged with what’s going on. In humanizing change initiatives, employees get to see how new adjustments can make their jobs more fulfilling and less stressful.
Opportunity for Growth
Change initiatives are an opportunity for both the organization and its employees to grow. Teams members have the chance to acquire new skills, improve their professional lives, and try something different.
However, when change is packaged and presented as a complicated process, it’s a huge turnoff for people just trying to do their job. Staff can be resistant to change and fail to see the benefits of the process. Especially if they feel it’s something being forced on them, and not something they are a part of.
When employees view change as an opportunity, they are happier and more likely to stay in their roles. The entire process can be viewed as an opportunity for development and even a chance to drive change initiatives.
The Dynamic Role of Change Agents
What better advocates for change than an employee’s own peer network? You must recruit champions of change before strategizing with the entire team. This is where team leaders need to step up and help others adjust to new expectations and processes.
Change management skills must become a necessity for management and leadership roles of all kinds. Change-related requirements can already be found in job ads for manager-level positions, and more companies are starting to invest in change management skill-building and coaching for current leaders.
Organizations are now expecting employees at the manager level and above to become well-versed in change management practices. It’s no longer a complementary skillset to empathetically and effectively guide employees, but rather, a must-have. In fact, change efforts are nearly 4x more likely to be successful when influence leaders are involved
However, designated change managers should also not be expected to handle every detail of large-scale initiatives either. It eventually becomes a group effort from within.
Acquiring Change Agents
Radical change is typically met with a high degree of resistance. As the pace of change accelerates, it’s critical to leverage key users as agents of change. This is how you turn regular users into super users.
If you’re looking to acquire change agents, it shouldn’t be done at the last minute when the change needs to happen. This is something that should be a proactive step in the process. Start educating change advocates on how to manage change immediately.
Thus, when the time comes to implement new tools, procedures, and processes, the new change agents will be set up and ready to go. This essentially creates a peer network for everyone to learn new things, and helps to manage the new initiative from the start.
The ultimate goal here is employee empowerment through self-service. The odds of success are greatly improved if the voices championing change belong to employee advocates and not just upper management.
The Benefits of Qualified Change Agents
Qualified change agents serve an organization in a variety of ways, including:
Speeds up the Process
Internal advocates for change shorten adjustment periods and are there to provide additional points of support throughout the change process.
Recruiting frontline employees to share in change management strategies (and the benefits) with their peers will speed up worker buy-in as well.
Lowers Degree of Resistance
Qualified change agents help mitigate resistance to change. Employees get questions answered faster and receive more hands-on support, so it only makes sense that they would exercise a lower degree of resistance. Change agents help staff become more comfortable and confident with the “new normal.”
Peer advocates for change management also serve as a great mechanism for employee feedback. They are truly the ones with their hand on the pulse of the project. They can also quickly disseminate information that better speaks to employee needs.
Drives Business Value
When change agents are willing to provide additional direction and insight to staff, it allows change managers to focus on larger, company-wide issues.
It frees up those leading the change initiative to address future challenges, while peer advocates can help identify opportunities for improvement that lie in broken processes.
Prioritizing Agile Operations
The concept of agile operations perfectly complements change management. Agile work has been adopted by many organizations that recognize the need to respond quickly to new opportunities and be fit for purpose in a world of continuous change.
Methods that are agile involve iterative delivery and are concerned with completing tasks early in the lifecycle, for a faster return on investment. Speeding up the ROI funds faster deliveries, and allows them to take place more frequently throughout the lifecycle of the change initiative.
Prioritizing agile operations involves:
Adopting Change as Part of Company Culture
New technology and constantly changing customer expectations mean your offerings and processes might look very different a year from now. Teams must be prepared for change and ready to embrace it. This is one of the reasons why change management must become part of your company culture.
Company culture is built over time with authentic and consistent behavior. According to a recent report, organizations with a healthy company culture are 1.5 times more likely to report average revenue growth of more than 15% than those without.
As organizations adopt change as part of their culture, you’ll find language like:
- Always learning
- Fail quickly
- Learning growth mindset
This language is baked into their vision and mission statement, as well as training documents and enablement tools. It’s used to talk about change management tasks at a high level.
It is believed that visible signs like dress code, where people perform their work, and social conduct also contribute to the formation of company culture.
Incorporating change as part of your company culture creates a more collaborative and forward-thinking environment. Team members will be innovating new ways to do things and actively improving the way they work.
Redefining Cultural Values
The ability to adapt to change has become a standing expectation of employees among organizations of all sizes and industries. As such, we are beginning to see this trend reflected in a company’s cultural goals, mission, and values.
A successful way to drive employee buy-in is to redefine organizational culture values. This change management strategy is based on the assumption that people desire to “fit in” and want to go along with cultural values and norms.
You must establish a culture of continuous improvement to change the hearts and minds of employees. Especially if you’re asking them to change the way they work. They must be able to derive personal value from the change initiative. In this case, people will be more receptive to new ways of working and thinking.
Agile Change Management
When a business chooses to prioritize agile change management, team members are more willing to embrace changes as they come. It becomes engrained in company culture from day one, lowering resistance to change and helping employees adjust more quickly.
A robust agile change management strategy includes these steps:
- Declare your vision for change.
- Empower the people best positioned to drive change.
- Recruit change agents and encourage self-service to supplement efforts.
- Use internal channels and peer networks to drive employee engagement.
- Embrace a “test-and-learn” approach.
- Shift operations from long-term to short-term accountability.
Today, companies are proactively adjusting themselves to adapt quickly when disruptions occur. Whether it be a positive or negative effect, in a minor or major way.
The Best Tools to Support Change Management
After a company has carefully selected change agents and managers, the next step is to arm them with the best tools possible to get the job done right.
What Are Change Management Tools?
A change management tool is any app, model, or platform that enables a change management team to prepare, execute, and regulate change. These tools help to navigate changes, measure the success of new processes, and keep everyone updated in real-time.
You Need a Digital Adoption Platform
One of the most effective types of change management tools on the market is known as a digital adoption platform (DAP). This software offers a better user experience, increases the efficiency of employee training, and makes the adoption of new applications a lot easier.
Supporting Change with Digital Adoption Platforms
Whether you are introducing new processes or tools, getting team members to adjust quickly requires an easier path. Agile companies use digital adoption platforms to better facilitate and support change.
Hands-on training is a good place to start when implementing new change management strategies. However, it can be hard for employees to retain information and immediately apply it to everyday practices. Not to mention it can be time-consuming.
Digital adoption platforms are the future of work. The technology empowers staff to catch up faster with in-app guidance, directly embedded in their workflows. Change agents can use these tools to better train employees in their own arena, with familiar processes they deal with every day.
How Does a Digital Adoption Platform Work?
A DAP rests on top of the software and tools you already use. It’s the opposite of disruptive technology, and is built to simply complement the processes you already have in place.
A digital adoption platform directs users on how to complete tasks as they move through their workflows. There’s no toggling between platforms or trying to remember the next steps. The technology is built right into the experience.
A DAP helps companies create in-app guides and content, at the exact moment employees need it. Types of assistance include:
- Interactive system walkthroughs
- Simple user interface
- Helpful tips in real-time
- Contextual Announcements and Messaging
- Multi-language support
- Analytics to track how people use the app
The features of a DAP are more or less similar across all platforms. When comparing technologies, focus on the elements that matter most to your business. Are you looking for simplicity and ease of use? Perhaps you need an extra hand in support or an enterprise-specific approach. In this case, OnScreen is a prime choice.
OnScreen is a Top Choice for Digital Adoption Platforms
Onscreen simplifies the software user experience and facilitates change management practices. They enable employees to better understand and use the technology they need every day for work and business process improvement.
Any assigned change agent can create an in-app guide in 27 minutes or less. Trainers and system experts efficiently capture and document workflow execution, in a step-by-step procedure. Relevant information is then presented to the user in the application, within the process context.
OnScreen has experience with larger enterprises with no implementation costs or server management. It can be used with popular web-based applications like SAP, ServiceNow, Oracle, Salesforce, Workday, Coupa, and Successfactors. Other features include:
- Smart process guides with in-app help
- Auto process capture
- Dedicated expert support
- Global footprint and recognition
- User productivity dashboard with onscreen usage stats
OnScreen accelerates onboarding, improves training, and facilitates user adoption for complex digital transformation initiatives.
The Benefits of a Digital Adoption Platform
A DAP provides customized, self-service support. Employees get the info they need in real-time to immediately execute a particular task or process. It’s about applying performance support that’s relevant, intuitive, and can be used in live production. Not only does this help to improve productivity, it really adds to your company’s bottom line.
Specific user segmentation (by role, group, or team) enables staff to prioritize what’s important to each individual, so the learning and training take place faster. It can also give the management team insights and metrics to monitor how well users are adjusting to the change and whether they are receiving adequate training.
A DAP shows you which guides team members have completed and which are used most frequently (i.e. which do people find the most helpful?). This can give a business a better idea of what types of additional support and training is needed, as well as the type of processes people need assistance with the most.
Change Management Today and Beyond
After the pandemic, the speed at which change occurs seems to have been kicked into high gear. Change is no longer a project to avoid or put off until the last minute. The more resistant a business is to change, the harder they will find it to compete.
In other words, change is something we have to learn to live with and use to facilitate growth. Change management is critical for a business to succeed and drive positive outcomes. Companies now understand the importance of change and how investing in it will secure their future.
However, 66% of change initiatives fail. To counter this, organizations must pick emerging change management trends, and implement them fast.
The best way to ready yourself for change is by equipping employees with top tools like a digital adoption platform. This not only benefits the company, but the individuals and employees as well. It gets teams excited about change and makes everyone feel more involved.
A DAP can help team members better understand what’s expected of them as procedures and policies change. With the right technology, change management initiatives can become a group effort where everyone feels supported, heard, and involved.
OnScreen is an agile digital adoption platform for SAP and web-based enterprise applications. It works to boost employee productivity and process efficiency by empowering any end user to become a super user.
Schedule a demo today to see how OnScreen can help jumpstart your onboarding and give employees the real-time info needed to reach success in their role.