You've decided your company needs a new website. You've chosen the system, you've rewritten your content, you've got a brand-spanking-new design. You're done, right? Wrong. “If you build it, they will come” might work well for a Hollywood movie. It won't work well for your new website.
A major part of a new website or any major system you implement into your organisation, is the communication surrounding it. If your team feels included throughout the development process, they are more inclined to embrace the new system rather than reject it. Springing new systems, processes, procedures etc onto an organisation is rarely going to end well.
Incorporating a strong communication and change management plan into any project plan is vital to the success of your project. Your team needs to know what's expected of them, what's going to change, their time investment, what the organisation goals are and what the outcomes will be.
Why change management isn't just a buzz word
You've heard of change management, but really - is it that important? Surely it's just for major corporations and isn't really relevant for my business. Don't think that. Where there is change, there is change management. Where businesses want to progress and move ahead, there will be change management. Change management is what needs to be implemented for any business that wants to be a leader in their field. Change management is important for all businesses and it's here to stay.
Engaging your team from the outset
You may have doubts about getting too many people involved in your project in the early days. You might worry that you'll set expectations that you can't live up to. What if the project gets delayed? What if we can't deliver everything we said we would? It doesn't matter. Get cracking on that engagement. It's never too early to get a wide array of people's input and engage the wider team in your plans. Put together your project plan and your communications plan at the same time.
Keeping the team involved
Your organisational change does not need to be big bang. In fact, it will actually be more effective if you do the opposite. Taking your extended team along for the journey will pay off in the long run. But be sure to balance enough information with too much information. You want people to be engaged and not suffer from information fatigue. While planning the communications for your project, you need to be across all the other activity that's happening across the rest of the business to ensure your messages don't get lost among the noise. You also don't want people to forget about you.
Also, when crafting your messages, think about your audience. A “one size fits all” approach won't work well here. Someone who will be working on the project in week 12 doesn't need to know the day-to-day goings on in week 2. Depending on the length of your project, you could give everyone a high level update every week or fortnight with upcoming key milestones and the anticipated go live date. For people who have tasks happening now or coming up soon, you can prep them more clearly and perhaps catch up briefly every day or every other day.
Preparing for the "new normal"
Work life doesn't only exist within a project bubble. You always need to have your eye on what things look like beyond “go live” date. How will you ensure the change your project is implementing will be lasting? You need to know what the end game looks like. You need to be sure about what your company is now and what it will be after this change. Be clear on your outcome and objectives. Be certain that future Company A is better than current Company A.
Being able to clearly define your objectives and the purpose of the change will allow you to communicate this to others and get them on board. If you're a bit wishy washy and your message is “we'll just be better, won't we”, you're not going to get the buy in you want. Confidence breeds confidence. People want to follow a strong leader, so make sure you know why you're making the change, what you need to do to get there and sing it loud from the rooftops.
A final word
Change management is not an overnight solo success. It takes long days of hard work and collaboration. Whether it's a new system, process or culture you're trying to implement, remember that you can't do it alone. Work with your peers and management team to align on what it is you want to achieve. Don't believe that anyone is too small to listen to or be involved. Your biggest detractors at the start may be your greatest allies at the end and it's these people who will really help you sell your case for change.
So get to it! Find your problem statement, know your end game, assemble your troops, communicate to all and sundry (customised communications of course) and be clear and confident. Strong and positive change management is worth it in the end.
Written by Diversus Senior Consultant