January is a time of change, when we look back on the old and forward to the new. It’s the perfect month to talk about change management.
After years of watching change management get results that last, I’ve always wondered what could cause someone to overlook its benefits. As I’ve talked with more executives, I’ve encountered three myths that prevent others from using change management to secure results faster.
Myth #1: Change Management Isn’t Worth the Investment
When considering change management, it’s easy to position the investment as a “nice-to-have” add-on; a soft benefit. Look a little deeper and you’ll realize the importance of how much the success of a project depends on people changing their behaviors.
If you expect your project to save $1 million annually, it will succeed when your store employees apply it effectively. A change management investment in such a case is more than justified.
Myth #2: Change Management is the Last Step on the Project Plan
In my experience, many frequently wait until a project is ready to launch before thinking about how they are going to get their store people to adopt new behaviors necessary to success. That’s not a mark against them – it’s an inevitable reality. It’s also not unusual to approach pilot after a long project and then, with just a month left in the process, suddenly realize that you need to align thousands of store employees with any organizational change.
The key is to start building alignment when the project launches, increases in intensity, peaks with training, and continues after the project “ends.” It also includes all levels of change – corporate as well as store. That’s effective change management; saving money from the start and ensuring that when you’re about to reach the finish line, you’re ahead of the pack.
Myth #3: Change Management = Training
Training is an important aspect of helping people change; it helps people understand what needs to be done and how to do it. However change management does more than train people – it identifies other changes that will need to happen as a result of your project, changes to systems and policies and job descriptions.
It builds support for your project’s objectives; and it guides individuals through the various stages of change. Training is to change management what a rehearsal is to a wedding. Both are important factors in their success, as well as part of a bigger picture.
So there they are, the three myths of change management. Do they sound familiar to you? If so, it’s time for a New Year’s resolution: to approach change boldly, with a sense of exploration, and open yourself to the new. You will be surprised and rewarded by the results.