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Complex basics: Managing change as part of transformation
Effective change analytics can help align the organization to improve everything else you’re doing. Transformation is change. No insight there. But when HR organizations manage transformation, do they manage change well enough?
Successful HR transformations that address requirements include change — and they invest as much as 15 percent of the overall transformation budget in change management, (2003 AMR Research Report). Real life experience confirms that when a transformation team is well experienced in change management, the transformation achieves — and often exceeds — its financial and qualitative goals.
So there is a strong case for making sure an HR transformation builds in enough change management skill. The question is: How much change management is enough? What does the right approach look like?
One useful determinant is the way an organization defines change management to begin with. Too many leaders view it as nothing but a vehicle to drive user adoption — in effect, an institutional-level behavior modification exercise. They focus almost entirely on pre-go-live measures to raise user awareness and alter activity patterns.
A more mature view of change management goes broader and deeper than that. True change management is a risk mitigation approach that identifies and addresses critical issues around strategy, process, technology, and people over the complete lifecycle of an HR transformation program. Key to this approach is a seasoned understanding of the points where HR transformations can fail. By developing a comprehensive view of transformation risk, a change team can then mitigate each risk with targeted strategies and tactics, and systematically remove the obstacles to transformation success. One of these common risk areas of course, is user adoption, but there are many others that often go unnoticed until it is too late. With a risk mitigation approach to change management, the result can influence the quality of the business case, strengthen leadership alignment, improve process design, and support successful adoption of processes and tools. Change is therefore crucial to realizing real business benefits, driving growth, and retaining key talent by ensuring the HR transformation is not thwarted by unforeseen challenges.
Become experts in program risk
Intelligent change data before, during, and after implementation is fundamental to identifying resistance hotspots, understanding where exactly to make change investments, and to help maintain strong leadership alignment around where the implementation challenges are and what to do about them.
From the moment an organization plans a transition, it should make sure to invest time in studying its own risks. These things can’t be left to chance — planners should map and study leadership alignment levels, employee readiness, change impacts, geographic readiness, and user adoption levels related to the proposed transformation changes.