Enjoy These Change Management Tips

change management

Written by Dan Callahan

I'm the VP of Global Services at CGNET. I manage our Cybersecurity and Cloud Services businesses. I also provide consulting and handle a lot of project management. I wear a lot of hats. Professionally, I'm a builder of businesses. Outside of work, I'm a hobby farmer, chef, skier, dog walker, jokester, woodworker, structuralist, husband and father.

February 27, 2020

Let’s talk about change management tips.  First, let’s start with why change management matters and why you might want some change management tips for your management tool belt.

Service Rollout in the Days of Packaged Software

Back in the days when software companies sold their goods via packaged software, everyone’s focus was on getting the software installed.  The software company had little short-term incentive to worry about adoption of the software.  Their only focus was on making sure that you purchased a software maintenance contract and that you purchased the new package when I came out in three years’ time.  As an IT manager, you might have been concerned with rolling software out to end users.  But it’s likely that you would have been consumed with getting the software running.  In that case you had little time for change management.

Service Rollout in Today’s Software World

Things are different today.  You may be rolling out a Saas (Software-as-a-Service) application.  You may be trying to roll out an application that would replace the individual services that your users purchased on their own.  Today, you must worry about adoption of the service.  In other words, you must worry about change management.  That means you’ll be interested in change management tips.

Start With Why

I was listening recently to an interview with Herm Edwards, former NFL player and coach and now the coach of the Arizona State Sun Devils football team. He was asked about the difference between coaching in the NFL in the early 2000’s and coaching college athletes today. “You have to start with the ‘why’ with these players,” he said. “When I was in the NFL, you didn’t question the coach. You didn’t ask the coach ‘why?’ The coach told you what to do and how to do it, and that was that. With these college players, they’re thirsty for knowledge; they want to know why. And you have to tell them that before you can go on to tell them what to do and how to do it.”

A Crowdsourced List of Change Management Tips

My friend Sam Caplan recently posted on LinkedIn, asking for change management tips. He’s preparing a talk for the upcoming Peak Grantmaking conference on the topic and wanted to get the advice of colleagues. Wish granted!

Several colleagues responded to Sam’s request.  (I can’t tell you exactly how many because I think I broke the page trying to load all the comments.) Here are some of the change management tips that were most frequently mentioned.

  • Start with a sales mentality and remember WIFM (What’s In it For Me).  It’s important to communicate why this change is being made and how individuals as well as the organization will benefit from the change.  You, the IT manager, have been living with the prospect of this new technology for a while.  You’ve had a chance to absorb the narrative concerning how this technology will benefit the organization.  Remember that others are just being exposed to this narrative for the first time.  So, your job is to bring them along to the point that you are out now.
  • Another change management tip is to listen to the opposition.  Seeking out the opinions of those who don’t support the change being proposed has a few potential benefits.  First, when you listen to people it helps them feel that you want to hear and consider their opinions.  Second, it’s likely that you’ll be able to identify ways to mitigate or avoid the negative considerations that users have voiced.
  • Getting top level buy-in is crucial.  Every management consultant I’ve ever known has uttered these words.  Still, it’s true that getting support for the change at the top sends a critical signal to everyone that this proposed change is not optional. I recall implementing multi-factor authentication at one organization. When the President publicly asked to be one of the initial adopters, it sent a strong message of support to everyone.
  • Another commenter offered the change management tip to lead with what could go wrong and what you would do about it.  Starting the discussion during the “honeymoon” phase could inspire confidence that you have thought through what could go wrong and have plans to address any issues that arise.  It also helps set expectations that there will be some pain in moving to the new technology.  It’s best to set those expectations before things have gone off the rails.
  • Many commenters stressed the need to communicate.  They noted that it is hard to over communicate in this process.  Here, communication means you want to share updates and status for tasks that have gone well along with news regarding the tasks that have gone poorly.  It’s equally important to remember that you want to listen to users about their experience with the new technology.  Users are going to run into problems. They want to know that you are going to support them as they work to adjust to the new technology.
  • Another great change management tip was to recognize generational differences.  I’ve seen this in some of my work with organizations.  We have multiple generations working side by side today.  These different generations have distinctly different experiences with technology.  We must account for these differences as we plan for the adoption of new technology.
  • Finally, a favorite change management tip from my friend Ernest Ostro: people love chocolate.

I hope at least some of these change management tips have resonated with you.  And if you are attending the Peak Grantmaking conference, be sure to check out Sam’s talk.  I’m sure it will be fantastic!

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1 Comment

  1. Sam Caplan

    Thanks Dan! Great article with plenty of actionable advice. Well done.

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