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change artAre you managing change? Or are you just letting change happen to you? With all of the change in the package software market, the move to more cloud-based demand and the programmatic change that your vendors are making, there's a lot going on! That's why this article will explore some change management "must-do's" - things that can give you more confidence in managing the inevitable change that these market shifts will drive in your business.
1. Identify what is changing in your business. The first step is to map out the changes you plan to make so that you can clearly identify what is changing - and what is not. Involve the right stakeholders so they can provide input on their view of what's changing, the priority, timing and what the end result will look like, too. Consider "piloting" your ideas so you can test for buy-in, potential roadblocks and immediate results, allowing for tweaks to be made to your plan. This allows those who are supportive of the change to get on board quickly and provide a track record for those who may not be quite ready to move yet.

2. Remember that everyone embraces change differently. We all approach and welcome change differently, with some of us up for change, or even instigating change, because we like the variety, challenge and new opportunities change brings. Some people are far more resistant to change; they are comfortable with their predictable schedules and familiar processes. You have people on your team (and in your circle of family and friends) who are likely on both ends of the spectrum and somewhere in between. You can enroll those who like - or at least readily embrace - change to lead the way for others who may need someone else to "test the waters" and tell them it's ok. Listen to those who are more cautious because they will have some good questions and "what ifs" to consider in your plan as you execute change. Their hesitation will highlight things that are better to think through in advance rather than when the issues become an emergency.

3. Communicate what is changing and why the change is necessary to all stakeholders. Keep in mind that the people affected not only have different approaches to change, but they also "listen" differently, so you should consider a multi-facetted platform to communicate your change orally in group meetings, in one-on-one conversations and in writing through email announcements or newsletter updates. In your change communications, be sure to address what's changing and why it's necessary to change, and also consider including:
a. What the risks are or what might happen if you don't make the change
b. What's possible or what new opportunities will arise because of the change
c. How you will know that you've achieved the desired change - what success looks like in the new paradigm
d. What role each person will play in making the change happen - from being informed to actively participating in committees, process changes or other requirements you identify
e. What your immediate priorities or next steps are to move the team forward
f. When and how often your stakeholders can expect update communications

4. Communicate some more. In addition to a communications strategy that includes multiple oral and written communications about the change, check in with individuals to see how they are adapting to the change, let them share feedback or suggestions they might have, and give them an opportunity to express their concerns or apprehension, especially if they are someone who is slow to adopt change. You'll find that you'll help people embrace change more quickly, and they'll remember your care and concern about them through the change - and be more willing to go through change with you in the future!

5. Be patient and compassionate. If you are the one instituting change, or if your style is to readily embrace change, you might find that you want things to move faster than others do. We have to remember that change is a process and does take time. In addition, sometimes you have to be willing to make alternate plans or change direction because unknown issues or new facts arise during the change process. You'll also find that listening to others and letting them input to the process - while it may take longer or end up looking different than you originally thought - will expand the opportunities you anticipated would arise because of the change. Be patient with the process, the results and others while you stay committed to what you see is possible, and you'll realize the outcomes you dreamed of - or even better outcomes - as a result.

For me, the one must-do that I have to continually practice is ensuring that I communicate regularly when change is occurring - one time just doesn't cut it! It's important for me, and those around me, to keep the possibility of the future out in front of me, whether it's implementing a new Transformational Leadership Program or helping leadership teams implement change within their organizations.

What significant change are you in the midst of or about to embark on? What strategies do you have to powerfully and effectively manage change? Pick one of these must-do's that you're going to commit to as you manage change in the future.

Last modified on Sunday, 02 June 2013
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