Regardless of the scope, size, or importance of a change, the most critical factor is people. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people, including your employees or your client’s employees, don’t like change. At best they are wary of it, and at worst, hinder your efforts to bring back the good old days. I’ve seen companies spend millions of dollars on ERP and CRM systems only to see them go to waste because their employees find a way to just keep doing things the way they always have.
These are wonderful systems that have cost a lot of money and countless hours have been spent implementing them, but the company forgot about the people who actually have to use them. By focusing on the “big” deliverables – choosing the right software, cost savings, productivity increases – we are ignoring the one factor that will make or break a change initiative – people. There are employees who are ambivalent, some that are passive-aggressive in undermining the company’s change management efforts and in some cases, openly sabotage the process in an attempt to get things back to the way they were.
Getting buy-in for a change is important, but you never know how much someone has truly bought in. A kick-off meeting or meeting introducing some new tool or process is a necessary first step, but if it is the only step, it is headed for disaster. It is critical that you assign clear accountability and responsibility for the success of a new initiative to those who are most responsible for its success – not Senior Management, but the people who will be working with the affected areas and processes every day. Assign goals and metrics. Measure those metrics, keep them top of mind, and reward them for a successful implementation.
Accountability and rewards for the people doing the work, not meetings, are the key to successful change management.