Change Management: Focus on the People11 Apr 2017

Attempting to introduce new methods, policies or practices into an organization meets one, clear obstacle: resistance to change. Behaviour as natural for humans as breathing the air and very tricky to remove, due to the way our minds are wired to stray from the unknown and stick to once set ways.

Managing it

The crucial thing to keep in mind when introducing a change is to oversee it throughout. If you're concerned about good results of shifting to a new paradigm, policy, system etc. - announcing it and expecting implementation is - by far - not enough. There needs to be an administration scheme in place, thanks to which teams will be prepared and aware of the nature of changes introduced before they happen.
Management also must have means of addressing outright reluctance to changes, and be sure that these means will not brake the team and company apart.
If you were to visualize a successful change introduction process, it should include the following:

  1. Having everyone aware of the adjustments being implemented since before the process started
  2. Appointing a few representatives and ambassadors of the change from among the team
  3. Building a support network for the foreseeable issues and questions
  4. Crucially - ensuring excellent communication flow between all part-takers through process duration.
Change Management: Focus on the People

Preparing for people being difficult

Now, that you've devised a plan and are hoping to work through it step by step, one thing you should be aware of is that most people will resist the change and some will outright boycott it - thereby inflaming others' moderate resistance.
An answer to the problem is not pointing fingers and assigning blame, but having a tool-set ready for working with these people, in particular - trying to identify the groups of largest resistance even before they speak up and presenting them with a simple work-plan, that weaves the changes into their current workflow.
It's normally easy to identify who will be among the resisting parties, by looking at people who:

  1. Stand a chance of feeling that more work will be expected from them in particular
  2. Were always advocating loudly for the old ways or vividly opposing the new ones when they were discussed
  3. Have been highly successful while working along the current lines of action.

Reaching out to these employees and providing an actionable plan can eliminate a lot of the potential bad attitude for a new paradigm, before this attitude spreads among all team members.

Reinforcing and monitoring changes

Bringing in a new set of requirements does not end with calming down the resistance, though this is indeed the toughest job. There is also a need to ensure the new policy or model are being followed after the initial weeks - you need to check up on whether the change has stuck.
The actual way to do this will highly depend on what the new demands brought in, some changes can be checked for by monitoring the process flow, others by sending dummy-test requests, others need to be explored in documentation.

Tracking down the results

From a practical point of view, you will need some way of managing dates and ticking off checkpoints, as well as of comparing statistical data from before and after the change.
We recommend using Kanban Tool's built-in Analytics, which make comparison of lead times and system throughputs effortless, also giving you access to the details of what the team are working on throughout the day. This allows for easy week-to-week comparison of what portion of time the changed aspects of their job was taking before and after modification, hence helping to validate the change in general.

Final thoughts:

Depending on your organization size and nature, introducing a change will either be "just difficult" or "very difficult", and this is why none of the time spent on preparing for it is wasted. Final tips:

  1. Don't try to introduce a change that you know is not possible to implement
  2. Spend a lot of time choosing the right people to act as change managers and change support - the success of your change implementation lies largely on their hands
  3. Use a reliable scheduling and analysing tool to monitor the results and actions
  4. Focus on how the team are reacting and feeling throughout the process, their attitudes and knowing that they're being cared for will be the make or brake of a success.

Happy changing!