To start our Q1 Change Management Series I wanted to do a quick refresher of some change management best practices and Google's change management methodology.
Typically people find change difficult, especially in the workplace, which is why any change needs to be closely managed in order for it to be successful. As people progress through the stages of their personal transition (see below) they need different types of support from their leaders and the change project team.
Stages of Personal Transition (William Bridges)
We developed the Google Change Management Methodology to support people as they transition from their existing IT platform across to Google. The focus of our approach is on ensuring that employees understand why the company has decided to go Google, what the benefits are for the organisation and them as individuals and to give them the skills and ability to be successful with the new tools.
Here are the critical elements of managing change - per our methodology:
- Ensure that you have strong executive sponsorship for the project. The primary sponsor should be a business leader or executive rather than someone from IT. The most critical activities that the primary sponsor is involved in are communicating the vision and reasons for the change, helping to deal with resistance and allocating resources to ensure the project is staffed in a way that means it will succeed. You’ll also need buy-in and support from other senior managers from across business units. These people are essential for helping to drive the change and encourage new ways of working within their teams.
- Complete an organisational analysis to understand the impacts of the change to different groups; What will each group of employees (user group) need to do differently once the new tools are in place? How will the tools benefit each group? What training needs does each group have?
- Recruit a network of champions to help drive the project from the ground up. These people should be given advanced training. They should be well respected individuals within their teams and passionate about using technology to help solve business problems. They will be a communication channel between the project team and employees and be able to provide their peers with tips and help with how to use the technology. It is important to clearly define the role of the champions and their expected time commitment. Make sure to reward and recognise champions for their help on the project.
- Every project needs a clear vision so that everyone knows what the future is going to look like and what the benefits are. We call this our ‘elevator pitch’. The elevator pitch is the foundation of your communications plan and should be used throughout all communications to employees to keep them focused on the benefits of the change and why the organisation has made the switch to Google.
- An engaging communications plan detailing the what, why, when and how of the change is essential. There is no such thing as ‘over communicating’. Multiple channels should be used including emails, blogs, posters, newsletters, meetings and other channels that exist within the organisation. Communications materials should be designed and branded in a fun and engaging way so that people pay attention to them. Ensure that any email communications are sent by someone senior and well known within the organisation to ensure that they are read.
- Employees must be given the training they need to be successful using the new technology. Many people will have been using the same tools for a long time - so change might be especially hard for them. People often resist change, not because they are scared of the new, but because they are afraid of letting go of the past. To help people through this transition give them the skills and ability that allows them to become experts with the new tools as this will help reduce their fear of letting go of the past. Training can take many forms, including self-paced learning, handouts, videos, Q&A sessions, coaching from Google Guides and formal training either remote instructor-led (e.g. via Hangouts) or classroom based training. Depending on the learning objectives of each of your user groups, you’ll likely use a combination of the above formats.
- Celebrate success, and reward and recognise people that are embracing the new ways of working. A great way to help motivate people as they are going through their own personal transition is by rewarding small achievements by individuals and teams. This will encourage others to try things themselves.
- Don’t let up too soon. One of the main reasons that change projects are not as successful as they could and should be is that project efforts stop too early. It is important to maintain energy around the project in the form of communications and training activities until the new ways of working are fully embedded into the organisation. Many customers find that establishing an ‘Innovation Council’ made up of Google Guides and Business Leaders is a good way to help identify additional ways that Google Apps can be used to improve business processes and collaboration within the organisation.
Keep posted for our next topic ‘The benefits of managing change properly (and risks of not)’ in two weeks time.
In the meantime, don’t hesitate to get in touch with comments, questions or feedback (team email alias: GfWfirstname.lastname@example.org)
Kim Wylie (on behalf of the Google Apps Change and Transformation Team)