A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document can improve your change management strategy by keeping your stakeholders informed throughout the duration of the project. It is a simple communication tool. It can be a living document where multiple project team members can edit and add questions with ease.
Ensure the success of your next change initiative by considering each of these critical roles. Often, one person may support multiple roles. In an ideal scenario, each role will have at least one person. People managers and change agents will be multiple people and the number is determined by the scope of the change and the number of stakeholders.
The critical role of a sponsor can often be overlooked. A sponsor should be chosen deliberately and thoughtfully to ensure success and ease of the change.
- The sponsor is in a position that has authority and decision making power over the impacted people, process or systems.
- The sponsor can communicate the reason for the change and the benefits to the organization.
- The sponsor is visible throughout the lifecycle of the change and delivers the required engagement and communication tactics, such as celebrating, addressing resistance, and maintaining relationships.
- The project manager is responsible for the project life cycle, ensuring there are clearly defined objectives, scope, milestones, schedule and allocated resources
- Collaborates with the change expert and project team to ensure timelines & resources are planned for
- Develops and delivers the project with employee adoption and use as a measure of success
Often, this change expert role will be filled by the project manager, people manager, or a combination of the two. Sometimes, the scope of this role may fall to Human Resources specialists, communications roles, or any employee-focused role. In larger organizations, there may be dedicated resources to fill this role.
- The change expert develops the strategy and tactics for stakeholder engagement
- Trains and coaches others in change roles
- Collaborates with sponsor and project manager and updates the change plan as the project progresses
People managers have many roles as change managers. They are the closest to their people and have communication, advocate & support responsibilities.
- People managers must share employee feedback with project team
- People managers must manage employee resistance
- People managers must coach and support employees through change
Change Agents / Change Makers / Change Champions
Amplify the momentum and change ability of your team by enlisting advocates of the change. This can be an informal or formal network of colleagues who can help to communicate and support their peers through the change transition.
- Be a voice of peers and area responsible for and raise feedback to project team
- Be a voice of the project team and communicate openly and often with area of responsibility
- Role model the change by demonstrating behaviors
- Be a resource for area of responsibility
- Support slow adopters
- Encourage a mindset of keeping an open mind and exploring new ways of working
1. List out all of your stakeholders.
Use your project team, people managers, and sponsor to create a thorough list of anybody impacted, positively or negatively.
2. Prioritize your efforts.
Communicating information that is not relevant is a surefire way to disengage a stakeholder. Prioritizing the efforts of your team and yourself will make sure the most critical stakeholders are communicated with the most frequently. An influence – interest grid can be helpful to visualize this assessment. Read how here.
3. Collect data and understand your stakeholders.
Each stakeholder may have different requirements for this project. Utilize inputs from your project team or people managers to understand where they are at in regards to the project, how they may be impacted, their needs, concerns, benefits, capacity for change.
4. Figure out the best way to communicate with your stakeholders
Consider existing meetings, emails, newsletters that you could be a part of it, instead of creating a separate required meeting or email for employees to read. Consider how to make it easier on them to get the information required. Some people or teams may not consistently use email, chat or calendar and it may be necessary to figure out other ways to get their attention.
5. Highlight the most important information.
Consider this easy to remember, simple format – What? So what? Now what? You can always link to more thorough project information, details or an FAQ for those that want it.
6. Create and maintain a Communication Plan
A communication plan can be extremely useful to keep track of complex audience groups, timelines, and large teams. Download a free template here.
7. Ask for feedback on your Communication Plan.
Ensure your sponsor and critical project team members are aligned with the approach, key messages, and timeline of your communication milestones.
8. Share the Communication Strategy with stakeholders.
For example, will you be sending out a routine email update? When should they expect the next in-person communication? This allows them to rest easy in the confidence that they will hear from you again and you are considering their needs.
9. Switch up your communication tactics.
Did you already communicate with a group in a face-to-face forum? Next time, try email. The time after that, try chat. Consider visual reminders in the workplace such as table-tents, posters, or flyers.
10. Communicate early to people managers, when possible.
This allows your leaders the time to digest and adjust to the information so that when their employees receive it they are ready to support the initiative.
11. Ensure your sponsor(s) and people managers are reinforcing the same information.
Provide them with easy to follow talking points, FAQs, or slide decks as needed.
12. Offer virtual and recorded options for face-to-face requirements.
Give your stakeholders the flexibility to engage with the information at the time that works best for them.
13. Ensure two-way communication.
Ensure two-way communication. How does a stakeholder provide feedback, ask questions, or bring up concerns? Make their options to contact you or the team visible and include it in every communication.
14. Build trust by promptly replying to questions.
The absence of information often leads to assumptions. Get ahead of rumors, correct trains of thought, and be as transparent as possible with the information you can share.
15. Consider a routine project update.
For example, an end-of-week project summary could be sent to stakeholders to keep your project at the top of their mind. Keep it concise and focus the information on impact to the stakeholders.
16. Role model the best email etiquette.
Respect the time of your stakeholders. Do not blindly “cc” or “bcc” or “reply-all” where possible. Send only relevant content to the relevant stakeholders.
17. Role model the best meeting etiquette.
I’ll say it again – respect the time of your stakeholders. Send out pre-reads and set meeting agendas. Time-keep the meeting, take notes, and share meeting notes after the fact.
18. Switch up who information is coming from.
Different people may create a different impact. For example, hearing from a member of your department may create more trust in the project. Hearing from a senior leader may demonstrate the non-negotiables of this project. It can be useful to write or create a communication for the team, and then ask them to communicate to their respective teams. People often engage with information better when it comes from a close colleague instead of a stranger.
19. Create an FAQ.
Start this at the beginning with questions from the project team. Add to it throughout the project duration. This can be a useful document to attach to communications and equip your change agents with ready-to-go and consistent answers. See our guide here.
20. Offer casual, informal opportunities for engagement.
Consider a scheduled “office hours,” a table in a popular area in your workplace, and engaging your change agents for more impromptu conversations on the topic.
21. Create a central location to store all your project related information.
An easy and simple tactic can be to keep a “living” slide deck where updates are shared and a history of previous updates is maintained. Consider a quick-to-make google site, shared folder, FAQ, or other ways to share information depending on the complexity and confidentiality of your project.
Articles that may help you next:
4 Steps to Complete a Stakeholder Analysis (How-to Guide) – FREE template included
How to Create a Communication Plan – FREE template included
Change can be stressful and unsettling for employees, so it’s important to effectively communicate the rationale for the change and how it will affect them. A common way people can get disengaged, frustrated and unproductive in the workplace is to not understand how their work connects to the bigger goals of the organization. Similarly, a thoughtful communication strategy can help to avoid issues like delayed project milestones, incorrect rumor swirl, or employee confusion.
1. Review your communication plan with a project or leadership team
Make sure you’re not working in a silo. Project team members can give excellent feedback and inputs about which tactics are effective, and the needs of their teams.
2. Align communication with critical project milestones
Ensure communications are happening before project milestones! This is particularly important if the change is visible (remember, the absence of information usually leads to assumptions being made!) or if action if required. As an example, it can often be useful to communicate with managers or certain stakeholders a few weeks before the general employee population. Communicating with these groups earlier allows them to adjust to the change and ready themselves to discuss and prepare their teams.
3. Create two-way communication opportunities
Consider how to enable two-way communication between your customer and the project team. How do employees go about asking questions or raising concerns? Could you set up a Q&A forum, in-person or virtually? How can communications like emails be supplemented with chats, in-person meetings, or visuals?
4. Ensure you’re communicating enough
A rule of marketing states that a customer needs to hear about something SEVEN times before taking action. Are you taking advantage of all the available communication channels to ensure your employees have the information they need? Consider the timing of communications too to allow employees to have enough time to digest and react to a change announcement before anything is expected of them.
5. Switch up your communication tactics
Use a variety of channels to ensure that everyone has access to the necessary information, and be transparent and open in your communication. Different learning styles, different personalities, and different generations all have preferences in communication styles.
This customizable Google Sheets template will allow you to capture the complexity of cross-functional change communication. Download below.
Review Communication Plan & Tactics with Project Team
Ensure communications are happening before project milestones, particularly when they are visible to employees or action is required.
Consider how to enable two-way communication between your customer and the project team. Do they have department contacts for questions? Could you set up a Q&A forum, in-person or virtually?
A rule of marketing states that a customer needs to hear about something SEVEN times before taking action. Are you taking advantage of all the available communication channels to ensure your employees have the information they need?
Use a variety of channels to ensure that everyone has access to the necessary information, and be transparent and open in your communication.
Have you been midway through delivering a project and suddenly realize everybody is not on the same page?
Perhaps there are managers suddenly answering questions about the change incorrectly.
Perhaps there is a lot of employee confusion and frustration about the project.
Perhaps you are responsible for managing a change that is challenging to implement or has negative consequences.
Here is a quick assessment that documents critical people-related information about a change. Ensure your project team and sponsor are aligned first, and then consider your communication approach for your key stakeholders.
Initial Change Assessment
- What is changing? What will stay the same?
- What are the reasons for this change?
- How does this change align with the business strategy?
- What is the intended outcome(s) of this change?
- Is there a risk of not changing?
- What is the timing of this change?
- What is the gap between future state and today?
- Who is impacted and how?
This list may need to be completed multiples times during the project as more information is understood and decisions are made. These are common questions on the minds of your stakeholders and customers and they often look for this information in change communications.
This will help you to manage change in your workplace, organization, or for a project.
Complete this four part process to conduct a thorough stakeholder analysis.
Consider first reading “Why a Stakeholder Analysis is so important”
1. Identify your stakeholders
- Seek input from the project team while identifying your stakeholders
- Consider anybody impacted, positively or negatively, by the change
- List both individuals and groups that are needed for a successful change
2. Prioritize your efforts to manage stakeholders.
- Complete an influence & interest grid
- Assess status of each stakeholder: Unaware, Resistant, Neutral, Supportive, Advocate
3. Understand each stakeholder with inputs from your project team.
- How they will be impacted
- Capacity for change
- Best ways to communicate with them
4. Plan your engagement with each stakeholder.
- Create a communication plan
- Brainstorm and decide on engagement tactics
- Assess and plan for training needs
- Incorporate above elements into overall project plan
A stakeholder analysis is critical to any change management effort and when completed properly will help ensure the success of your initiative. This will help you to manage change in your workplace, organization, or for a project.
Has your project been experiencing these problems? These are all issues that can be fixed or improved by completing a thorough stakeholder analysis & engagement plan.
Common issues encountered with inadequate stakeholder management:
- Incorrect rumors
- Lack of manager support
- Lack of awareness in project
- Not completing required training or prerequisites
- Customer dissatisfaction
- Low employee morale
- Employee confusion & frustration
A stakeholder analysis will help us to:
- Understand the needs of your key stakeholders
- Deliver the right information at the right time to those that need it
- Ensure leadership alignment
- Mitigate resistance
- Avoid misinformation or assumptions
Complete this four part process to conduct a thorough stakeholder analysis.
- Identify your stakeholders
- Prioritize your efforts to manage stakeholders
- Understand each stakeholder with inputs from your project team
- Plan your engagement with each stakeholder
Change management is a dynamic and evolving field, and it’s important to stay up-to-date on emerging trends and developments in order to effectively lead and manage change in your organization. Here are some trends and predictions for the future of change management:
- Increased focus on digital transformation. With the rapid advancement of technology and the increasing reliance on digital tools and platforms, it’s likely that change management will continue to focus on digital transformation. This may involve the implementation of new technologies, the adoption of new business models, and the incorporation of digital tools and processes into the organization.
- Greater emphasis on employee engagement and involvement. Change management is increasingly focusing on engaging and involving employees in the change process. This may involve providing employees with the resources and support they need to adapt to change, as well as involving them in the decision-making process and encouraging their participation in change initiatives.
- Increased use of data and analytics. Change management will continue to rely on data and analytics to track progress and measure the effectiveness of different approaches. This may involve the use of data analytics tools and techniques to better understand the impacts of change and identify areas for improvement.
- Greater emphasis on agility and adaptability. The future business environment is likely to be characterized by rapid change and uncertainty, making agility and adaptability crucial for success. Change management will continue to focus on helping organizations to respond quickly and effectively to changing market conditions and customer needs.
- Continued evolution of remote work. The rise of remote work has brought with it new challenges and opportunities for change management, and it’s likely that this trend will continue. Change management will need to adapt to the unique challenges and opportunities of leading and managing change in a distributed work setting.
By staying up-to-date on these trends and predictions, you can position your organization for success and effectively navigate the complexities of leading and managing change in the future.
In today’s fast-paced and rapidly-changing business environment, the ability to effectively manage change is essential for organizational success. Change management is the process of planning, executing, and controlling the changes that occur within an organization. Here are some key benefits of investing in change management:
- Improved efficiency and productivity. Change management helps to ensure that changes are implemented smoothly and effectively, which can lead to improved efficiency and productivity. By minimizing disruptions and delays, change management can help to keep your organization running smoothly and moving forward.
- Enhanced customer satisfaction. Change management can help to ensure that changes are implemented in a way that meets the needs and expectations of your customers. By engaging with customers and other stakeholders and addressing their concerns and input, change management can help to improve customer satisfaction.
- Increased employee engagement and retention. Change can be stressful and unsettling for employees, and it’s important to ensure that they are involved and supported throughout the process. Change management helps to engage and involve employees in the change process, which can lead to increased engagement and retention.
- Improved competitiveness and adaptability. Change management helps organizations to adapt and respond to changing market conditions and customer needs, which can increase competitiveness and position the organization for success in the long term.
- Better decision making. Change management helps to ensure that changes are based on sound data and analysis, which can lead to better decision making and improved outcomes.
By investing in change management, you can drive organizational success and position your organization for long-term growth and success.