Top Five Change Management Myths & How to Avoid Them

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Cybersecurity for Small and Mid-Size Enterprises (SME’s)

Myth 1: Change happens all the time. People are used to it; it’s not a big deal anymore.

While it’s true that change is occurring all around us, frequency does not necessarily equate to a high comfort level with all change. Change is felt on an individual level. Disruptions to an individual’s habits, assumptions or how they navigate the world can evoke an emotional response. You can reduce these negative reactions by providing tools to help your stakeholders adapt. For example, let’s say a medical office is changing from signing-in with a receptionist to signing-in through a kiosk. Potential tools to help your customer adapt could include encouraging clients to try out a practice tablet for several months ahead of the kiosk implementation, giving clients a choice of how to sign-in for a time period after the kiosk is implemented, having staff readily available to provide assistance once the former sign-in process is no longer available and ensuring there is a clear, easy to read how-to poster readily visible for reference.

Bottom line: take time to think about the different types of stakeholder groups that will be impacted, how the impact differs between these groups and what tool can address each group’s unique challenge. In the medical office example, a patient coming in for an appointment has a different sign-in need than a person making a delivery. Think about what tool(s) help each of your different stakeholder groups.

Myth 2: My customers are loyal and will stick with me through the change.

It’s true you may have very loyal customers. This is all the more reason a change management plan is important. Have you ever heard of “New Coke” and the debacle that took place when Coca-Cola changed its formula in the mid-80’s? Customers were angered by the change, and ultimately, the product failed. While this is an extreme example, it proves customers can refuse to adapt to your change.

Bottom line: Carefully think through changes to your product or service that reach your customer base. You want to make sure that even through a change, your customer knows your business, your product, where to find it and how to use it. To illustrate, let’s say a cereal manufacturer decides to change the color of the box to save packaging costs. Engage the customers before the change occurs (perhaps provide a picture of the new packaging directly on the product for a few months prior) and ensure the customers know how to recognize and find the product after the change to packaging is implemented.

Myth 3: My employees must comply with the change.While you can implement policy to force a change, this is a risky undertaking in the absence of a compelling reason to do so (for example, a new law goes into effect). Like any other stakeholder group, employees have connections to many variables within your business that impact their engagement level. This can include anything from their compensation, to a special perk you offer, your business’s prestige level in the community or to a strong personal commitment to your business’s mission or values. If changes you make have a negative impact on your employees’ connections to your business, your attrition rate can go up.

Bottom line: Involving your employees in decisions related to changes will help ensure greater support. You can leverage a variety of different methods to elicit employee feedback on a change your business is considering, such as casual conversations, focus groups or surveys. Additionally, no matter what the change is, make sure your employees understand the rationale behind it. Let’s say you decide to move your office location. You will receive much greater support from employees if you involve them in the discussion on how the move benefits the business than if you just announce a mandate to move by a certain date.

Myth 4: I have a strong communications plan to inform my stakeholders of the change. That’s all I need.

Communication is a very important part of change management; however, informing is only part of the picture. Think about what the change means to your stakeholders and frame your communication efforts to illustrate the benefits they will experience. For example, let’s say your company sells office supplies and the website is redesigned. Instead of simply informing your customers, provide the key features that will improve their website experience (such as faster load times or one-click check out).

Bottom line: Benefits of the change can become lost as stakeholders react to the disruption of the familiar. Providing tools to navigate the change while also sharing the benefits can help build excitement and improve overall adoption.

Myth 5: I have implemented the change. Nothing more needs to be done.It is very tempting to cease your change management efforts once the change has happened. After all, you have engaged your various stakeholders, provided information on the benefits and tools to ensure their success. Now is the time to monitor the response you receive on the change and quickly address challenges your stakeholder groups may be having. Using the office supply website redesign example, let’s say you review site performance statistics and learn that shopping cart abandonment has significantly increased once the new site was launched. This indicates there is an adoption challenge with your new shopping features to investigate.

Bottom line: Keep a close eye on your relevant KPI’s during a significant change and swiftly act on challenges your stakeholders may be having. You have likely gone to a lot of effort and expense to implement change; don’t let the change fail by not continuing your efforts support your stakeholders beyond the implementation.

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