Explore the Levels of Change Management

Checklist for Your Change Management Approach

Written by Andrew Horlick

4 Mins

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How do you know if your change management approach will enable you to succeed? We’ve created high-level checklist to guide you through key elements of your change management approach:

  • Change management strategy and planning
  • Change management assessments
  • Sponsorship
  • Communication
  • Coaching
  • Resistance management
  • Training
  • Sustainment

Gain the knowledge, skills and tools you need to enable your organization to succeed with change when you attend the Prosci Change Management Certification Program. 

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How To Use the Change Management Checklist

The explanations below discuss each checklist element, why it matters, and how you can implement it.

Change management strategy and planning

Participants in Prosci’s Best Practices in Change Management benchmarking research cite a structured approach to change management as the number two contributor to success. Analysis of the data shows a direct correlation between using a structured methodology and change management effectiveness—and change management effectiveness is directly linked to project success.

Keys to implementation:

  • Use a structured and planned approach.
  • Ensure that you have the necessary resources.
  • Begin your change management activities at the beginning of the project and not as an afterthought or add-on.

Change management assessments

Conducting change management assessments clarifies where you are today and what you need to do next. The amount of change management you need depends on both the change you’re implementing and the people and groups who will be impacted by the change.

Keys to implementation:

  • Don’t assess for the sake of assessing. Conduct assessments that yield insights to inform and enable your future actions.
  • Customize your change management strategy and plans to fit with the specific change you’re managing.

Sponsorship

Active and visible sponsorship is consistently cited as the greatest contributor to success in Prosci research. More than half (52%) of the participants in the latest study rated their sponsors' understanding and execution of change management as less than effective.

Keys to implementation:

  • Don’t assume your sponsors know what it means to be an effective sponsor of change. There are often gaps in sponsor Knowledge of and Ability to perform the role.
  • Remember that sponsorship is more than signing a project charter. Effective sponsorship involves active and visible participation with the project team, other senior leaders, and the people and groups impacted by the change.

Communications

Communication is critical for building Awareness of and Desire to participate and support changes. Frequent and open communication is the number four success factor in Prosci research.

Keys to implementation:

  • Involve preferred senders of change-related messages, including senior leaders (for messages about impacts of a change on the organization) and people managers (for messages about personal impacts of a change).
  • Leaders today increasingly leverage video as an effective form of communication, due to distributed and hybrid workforces, and the need to accommodate different time zones.
  • Despite the effectiveness of video and digital communications, the most effective mode of communication is still face-to-face. Look for opportunities to speak with people during live events, in person or online, to enable two-way communication. The key takeaway is, don’t rely exclusively on "broadcast" or “telling” forms of written and electronic communication.

Coaching

The role people managers play during change is critical. They are the preferred senders of messages about how the change impacts people on the front lines of an organization, and they play a central role in identifying and managing resistant behaviors. Research also shows that managers are often the most resistant group during change. Engaging them as coaches prepares and equips them to address some of the root causes of their own resistance.

Keys to implementation:

  • As with sponsors, don’t assume that people managers know what it means to be an effective coach. Some of the best managers are not effective change managers without proper knowledge and support.
  • Give coaches the information and support they need to be the senders of key messages about how the change will impact the people and groups they oversee.

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Resistance management

Resistance to change is cited as the top obstacle to project success in every Prosci benchmarking study. The most common reasons for resistance are not tied to the solution you’re implementing. Instead, they are often related to attachment to the current state, misinformation in the organization, and not understanding the reasons behind the change.

Keys to implementation:

  • Manage resistant behaviors by identifying what it might look like and where it might come from during the planning stages of your project or initiative.
  • Prevent or mitigate the most common causes of resistance by thinking through your change management activities early in the change lifecycle

Training

Training is often critical to building Knowledge of how to change and a prerequisite for people developing the Ability to apply a change. Change practitioners play a key role in conducting needs assessments to determine the training needs of people impacted by a change.

Keys to Implementation:

  • Focus on planning and design of training (including identifying training needs by engaging members of impacted groups).
  • Ensure that training is delivered at the right time, when employees are in the Knowledge and Ability stages of their ADKAR journey.

Sustainment

If people revert to the old way of doing things after implementation, you have not only wasted time and resources, but your solution will not generate the benefits or return-on-investment you expected. Although it’s overlooked, sustainment is the bridge between the period of change (the transition state) and how things will be done after implementation (the future state).

Keys to implementation:

  • Be proactive, systematic and explicit when developing the mechanisms to reinforce and sustain the change.
  • Engage sponsors and coaches in sustainment as they will be keys to creating the expectation that change will be maintained.

Accelerate Change With a Structured Approach

The people side of your change is too important to be left to chance. Accelerate change and minimize disruption by planning and using a structured approach. Remember that change management is not:

  • Just communications
  • Just addressing resistance
  • Just training
  • Just sponsorship
  • Just assessing
  • Just identifying and mitigating risk
  • Just informing people

Change management is the application of a structured process and tools for leading the people side of change to achieve a desired outcome. When you understand these processes and tools holistically, you can start to accelerate adoption in your organization and help your valued people thrive during change.

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