The 5 Most Pressing Challenges Change Practitioners Face Today
Written by Karen Ball
When we partner with clients to address their challenges, we help them reframe their questions and identify the true essence of their problems. Then we coach them on actionable approaches using Prosci research, data, models and methodologies.
These are the top five challenges change practitioners have shared with us, along with recommendations from Prosci and change practitioners like you.
Common Change Practitioner Challenges
1. How do I get commitment and resourcing for change management?
Buy‐in and resources for change management come from delivering value. Value comes from achieving the expected return from projects or change initiatives. Instead of just asking for resources, we need to reframe the question to, “How do I communicate the value of change management in my organization?”
Substantiating the value of change management is easier when you ask context-setting questions:
a) What is the investment being made in the project (in terms of budget and people)?
b) What is the expected return from the project (in terms of organizational benefits and objectives)?
c) What percentage of overall results and outcomes depends on adoption and usage of the change?
d) What are the costs and risks if adoption and usage are not as expected?
e) What are the benefits and value creations if we drive faster, more complete adoption and usage?
Question c) really gets to the essence of the value of change management. When we ask leaders this question, they usually answer 80%, 90% or 100%. The natural follow-up is to ask them how much they are investing in change management to realize the intended benefits.
2. How do we improve adoption and reduce resistance to change?
Once we demonstrate the value of change management, leaders begin to understand that addressing the people side of change is the most effective way to improve adoption and usage. But when you introduce resistance to change, people are less clear on how to move forward.
To reframe the question, consider that the objective of any project or change initiative is to achieve some desired outcome. Adoption and resistance are responses individuals experience during change, and both are linked to their individual awareness and desire. Therefore, we can reframe the question to, “How do we address adoption and resistance to improve change outcomes?”
First, we must be sure we’re dealing with an adoption challenge and not a project challenge. Is the resistant behavior emanating from the way people must engage with the change to do their jobs in a new way, or is it due to the change itself? Conducting resistance interviews or workshops uncovers what people are thinking, their challenges and concerns. Maybe it’s the way we are communicating, a lack of adequate training, or the feelings of loss due to the change. Defining what adoption looks like and engaging people in the changes that impact them also improves outcomes.
3. How do we address change saturation, fatigue and burnout?
We're hearing from many organizations, and certainly inside Prosci, that there's a lot happening and very quickly. Technology changes, pandemic-related challenges, Zoom fatigue, blending personal and professional lives. All of this impacts personal resiliency and leads to burnout. But if we understand all the variables that impact these conditions, we can explore options to address root causes.
We can reframe this question by asking, “What is causing the change saturation, fatigue and burnout?”
Prosci Change Saturation Model
Change saturation is a function of capacity and disruption. An organization has limited capacity for change, which is defined by culture, history, structure, etc. (on the left). The disruptions (on the right) are the changes going on. To address saturation, you can either increase capacity or reduce disruption. For example, if your organization has a history of failed changes, capacity for change can be low. By increasing awareness of the need for change, capacity increases. When we look at disruption, we may not be able to reduce the number of changes. But we can impact the disruption each causes through better communications and sequencing, or even combining changes.
4. How do I build organizational change maturity and capability?
Before you can build change capability, you must start with a shared understanding in your organization. Change capability is an organizational competency which needs to be treated like a project. We call that project enterprise change management or ECM. Reframe this question by asking, “How do we treat building change capability like a project?”
Like any change, you get started by defining success and project objectives. You must find a sponsor, create the project charter, and assess your current state of organizational maturity. You identify your desired future state of change management maturity and map out actionable steps toward meeting your goals. And you will prepare and equip people managers, coach senior leaders, and manage resistance to building enterprise change capability.
Prosci Change Management Maturity Model
To assess your organization’s current state, Prosci’s Change Management Maturity Model identifies where an organization stands on five levels of maturity. Using an assessment tool, you drill down into the five capability areas that define change management maturity to quantify where you stand. Then you can use the score as a baseline for planning your strategy and tracking goals.
5. How do we transition people back to a new work environment post‐pandemic?
This is top of mind, top priority for so many. Do we really have a clear idea of the technical side of change (what is changing)? And do we have a clear idea of the people side of change (who is changing)? What does “workplace” even mean?
Let’s reframe the question to, “How do we ‘return to the workplace’ as a change to be managed?” What are we designing, developing and delivering in terms of the solution for the return to the workplace or for re-imagining the workplace? And then, who has to engage, adopt and use this change? What are the people-side impacts?
Over the last 15 months, we have been working with clients on this issue, and they have encouraged us to drop the idea of a return and to re-imagine the workplace instead. Many organizations are spending time to redefine what the workplace means for them and what work will look like going forward. Most people we work with are not returning to their pre-Covid world. They’re taking this opportunity to do things differently.
Why Partner With Prosci?
People choose Prosci as a trusted partner because we’re passionate about helping people thrive through organizational change. As the practice of change management has grown and evolved over the years, we have listened to and learned from you, our clients and our community. We have researched and applied best practices. And we have continued to evolve—so we can help you achieve success with the most pressing change challenges of our time.