Change is an inevitable and constant force that impacts organizations in many ways. Effectively managing change is critically important to organizations because it helps drive organizational performance. In fact, one study found that companies with effective change management practices are three and a half times more likely to outperform their industry peers than those that don’t have good change management programs in place. A key requirement for successful change management is sustained change in employee behavior, and often this requires a significant mindset change. In essence, employees need to connect with the ideas and vision behind an organizational change initiative, and they need to learn the new behaviors that will help them be successful after the change has been implemented.
Key Activities that Support Effective Change Management
A great way to manage organizational change is to enlist the help of experiential learning in order to effectively prepare employees for change, showing them how to adjust their behaviors and providing opportunities for them to see and learn, in real time, the characteristics of a successful change implementation. To help you explore the different factors involved in a change initiative and prepare for effective change management, we’ve provided a number of activities and ideas you can employ.
Assess Readiness for Change
Before heading straight into a change initiative, it’s helpful to get a baseline understanding of your current state and how ready the organization is for a new initiative or major transformation. Key exercises that can help maximize the impact of experiential learning and training after this assessment include:
- Focus groups: Bringing groups of employees together to discuss ideas and approaches to potential change can provide an understanding of how open employees are to change, as well as their fears, concerns, or reservations.
- Assessments and surveys: Assessment tools can provide insight into the mindsets of employees and how ready they are for different types of change.
- Interactive discussions: Gathering larger groups of employees for discussion and interaction can also facilitate idea sharing about changes on the horizon.
Leverage Team Meetings
Meetings serve as an effective forum for introducing and discussing a new process or concept, because those leading them are able to facilitate the delivery of a consistent message to members of a group all at once. A key element of many experiential learning activities is practicing new behaviors in real time. Meetings can be an effective way to do this after the initial training session because they bring people together to talk about change and its impact on their behavior. Some examples of meeting activities that support effective change management include:
- Regular status updates: Discussing the status of current and upcoming change initiatives helps individuals stay on top of what’s happening in their work group and the company.
- Reinforcement activities: Employing a short quiz or game in a meeting can help reinforce new behaviors. This can also be a time to check on the progress of online digital reinforcement activities, if you have such a strategy in place.
- Discussion of initiatives on the horizon: Telling employees about upcoming initiatives gives them time to ask questions and give feedback honestly and respectfully.
- Recognition of milestones and accomplishments: Since change requires energy and commitment, recognizing employee accomplishments in a meeting can help drive employee engagement and commitment to the change.
Communicate Early and Often
Effectively managing change involves communicating with employees before, during, and after the change has taken place. Early communication helps employees prepare for and understand change better. It can also reduce anxiety and give employees time to learn new behaviors.
Since people tend to respond better to messages that are delivered frequently and in different settings, it’s helpful to engage in a variety of communication activities that relate to important change initiatives. Some examples include:
- Presentations from company leadership
- Email updates
- Intranet storytelling
- Virtual meetings that involve employees who work remotely
- “Town hall” style meetings and Q&A sessions
In addition, since behavior change is a requirement for successful change management, it’s important for leaders to communicate change with their words and their actions. This type of behavior change can be taught and reinforced more effectively with the help of experiential communication skills training.
Measure and Reinforce Change
As you’re going through an organizational change, it’s helpful to know how you’re doing and whether the desired change is progressing as anticipated. Behavior change doesn’t happen overnight, so you’ll benefit from measurement and reinforcement tools that can help track behavior change and tell you the degree to which experiential learning activities have been effective. Some examples of measurement and reinforcement tools include surveys, multi-rater assessments for individuals, and training impact scorecards. Each of these tools can provide quantitative feedback regarding how much employees have embraced change and incorporated new behaviors into their daily work lives.
Ensure Change Management Success with Employee Training
Change management is not a quick fix that simply gets communicated and implemented with a handful of meetings or traditional presentation-style training sessions. Regular and supported training activities are critical to the success of a change initiative of any magnitude. Experiential learning in the areas of leadership development and communication skills will provide the knowledge and skills employees need to effectively manage a successful change initiative. By implementing these activities and experiential learning ideas that support effective change management, organizations will benefit from improved employee engagement and sustained behavior change at all levels of the organization.