What Is Your Plan For Change?

By: Stephanie Behnke, Vice President, Claims Strategy and Business Solutions at The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc.

Everywhere we turn, we see that our industry is changing…rapidly. For the most part, we look forward to the evolution of digital technology, artificial intelligence and more insightful data analytics. But for every new technology we deploy, there is a ripple effect through our organizations that is easily overlooked. While change is constant, and we’re warned to prepare our teams for it, we often don’t hear how we should prepare, nor do we make change an intentional and measurable part of our projects.

When we manage change well, we remove uncertainty, anxiety and fear. We empower our teams to safely challenge, question and adapt to what is happening around them. Regardless of the change management technique you select, the data is clear; projects that include change management as a part of project discipline are up to 40% more likely to succeed. Now that we’ve established that change management is critical, how do you get started?

All change management has one thing at its center: People. To succeed with any initiative, it is important to recognize where your team currently is, and where you’re asking them to go. Does the project touch one part of your organization or many? Will there be downstream consequences to other teams? Are you changing a core capability, or just augmenting it? Knowing how significant the change will be for your team drives the program itself. Small changes require less rigor, significant changes require more frequent one-on-one employee interactions.

A quick change readiness assessment before a kickoff can help managers gauge the receptivity of their organization and identify any gaps in skills, knowledge or interests. Since research suggests it takes 66 days to form a habit, be sure your plan allows team members enough time to become acquainted with the new tool or process, and plenty of time to practice new skills. Setting up a test environment is a great stress-free way to introduce new technology.

Wherever possible, pilot teams should be established to help build change champions. Posting adoption metrics can generate enthusiasm and create friendly competition while focusing teams on a common goal. Finally, rewarding adoption and sponsorship should be used to incentivize teams to continue good habits.

To get the most value from your change management program, integrate it into your overall project plan by including and tracking key milestones and metrics. The objectives and success factors that you publish set the tone for the project and put a focus on results. Just bringing discipline to your process can help increase visibility and remove uncertainty.

Using a mature change management discipline, such as the ADKAR Method, may help your teams stay informed of what is changing and why, while creating an enthusiasm and desire for change. It also helps to ensure the right training has been deployed and test your organization’s abilities long before deployment. Finally, this method helps establish reinforcement programs that reward team members for embracing change.

So, before you launch that next project, ask yourself “What’s my plan for change?”

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