As I noted in ‘Organizational Design Essential’s: Part One, The Approach,‘ it is often necessary to make strategic changes in organizations to realign the team to a new mandate or to eliminate old patterns impeding a team’s ability to achieve their objectives.  There are obvious risks in this – and also hidden ones that are less recognized, the biggest of which is actively managing change.

When you make the decision to change, focus and attention must be placed on change management. Understanding, planning, and monitoring your restructuring initiative will be vital to keeping your talented employees, understanding employee views and fears, managing buy-in, building team cohesiveness, hiring new talent, etc.  Furthermore, you need to understand the importance of managing the psychology of your employees and decision makers, as it can be challenging to recognize when enough is enough.

While change is now a constant for marketing organizations, many marketing leaders are finding that their change management efforts are falling short or non-existent. Fortunately, teams can overcome this common Achilles heel by following 5 steps:

  1. Prepare for the change management initiative. Lay the groundwork for building the change management plan, and ensure all participants understand the process, timelines, expected outcomes, their responsibilities, and the impact of engaging employees in defining change objectives and implementation plans.
  2. Develop a deep understanding of the change and its potential impact. Build a shared understanding of the purpose and the impact of change among marketing leaders and employee representatives by:
    • Ensuring the change management working committee defines potential change objectives, develops a clear business rationale for why the change is required and identifies employee segments affected.
    • Creating an employee working group, from a sample of employees who will be affected by the change, to listen, gain insights and collectively visualize the desired future state.  This will help you build alignment, commitment, and consensus.
  3. Address barriers to change adoption. Identify and address barriers likely to prevent employees from successfully adapting to the future state, including desired cultural and behavioral requirements.  This is likely one of the more challenging aspects, given emotional attachment, habit, comfort, etc.
  4. Prepare the change management plan. Define a change management plan by clearly articulating the future state/structure, desired behaviors, tactics to mitigate barriers to demonstrating those behaviors, and tactic owners and timelines. Customize this plan for different employee segments affected by the change as identified in earlier steps. Identify metrics to evaluate the success of the change initiative, as well as lead metrics (i.e., early milestones that demonstrate progress towards change initiative success).
  5. Monitor the change management process. Review the effectiveness of the change management plan in successfully supporting change outcomes. Review your performance by:
    • Reviewing the change management plan, periodically spot checking employee behavioral changes, and amend tactics accordingly.
    • Gathering feedback from employees to identify challenges that continue to affect their work and productivity, address the identified problems, and document lessons learned.
    • Tracking success metrics of the change initiative to assess the effectiveness of change implementation

Spending time developing your change management plan will be a huge benefit, critical for successful organizational transformation. To learn more about creating a step-by-step change management plan, see “Ignition Guide to Creating a Change Management Plan (Gartner subscription required).”

Parts 3 through 7 will discuss finding your ‘to-be’ structure, reshaping your processes, aligning your people, and supportive technologies.

 

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