The Secret(s) Behind Change Management

By Robyn Undieme | Oct. 29, 2015

Successfully advocating change has probably been one of the more difficult tasks I've been assigned to as a Project Manager in the MAAP Office. Every day Penny and I are tasked with assessing inefficient processes or ways of doing things to offer solutions, but that doesn't mean everyone agrees on a process. Sometimes we have to convince management or employees that something can be done better; and to be honest, sometimes we're successful and other times we're not.

One of the questions we asked the new class of MAAP Champions in our program application was how they manage change. Their answers were right on and I thought it would be a shame to not share them. Here's a quick review of what they had to say when it comes to change management:

When change is on the horizon, many would probably agree the first step is to convince someone a change is needed. Despite this being a logical first step, a lot of times stating a problem gets bypassed with, "we should do this instead." In other words, we offer asolution without making a case that there's been a legitimate problem from the beginning.

Identifying the problem should start with asking "why?" Why do we need to change the process or the vendor or the task? While we're formulating the answer to this question, it helps our case if we rely on facts and data to support our proposal that change is really needed. Relying on our gut feeling or simply our experience is rarely enough to gain the buy-in you need. One rule emphasized in the MAAP Champion training is data is our biggest ally in determining whether we need to be proposing a change.

Communicating and collaborating with every stakeholder impacted by the change is one of the most popular answers we get with change management. Yet it rarely gets done well. No doubt there are many reasons sufficient communication doesn't occur with those impacted. Regardless, change will rarely get fully implemented if a stakeholder isn't included in the discussion.

This leads us into the next recommendation, which is to obtain buy-in before the change occurs, not attempt it after the change has been implemented. If buy-in isn't easily obtained, then try a pilot before fully implementing. Be patient and allow for feedback from the stakeholders. Don't rush change; lasting change is typically slow in implementation and requires a lot of planning beforehand. Lastly, we want to own the change and emphasize the benefits we're getting from the new process. If you're anything like me, then you're great at coming up with ideas, but you struggle seeing it through. Change takes follow-through for it to stick and benefit anyone. Be sure to own it and then celebrate it. Communicating the success is important in keeping the momentum going.

If you see yourself as a change agent, or an idea-man or woman, I highly encourage you to get involved in the MAAP Champion program. We offer training on change management and will give you the tools and resources to make a positive change here in the City. Plus, you'll be able to meet other like-minded employees you might not otherwise meet. If you're interested in learning more about the MAAP Champion program, email us atmaap@cityoftulsa.org.Our next class will take place in the Spring of 2016.