One of the mistakes organisations make when implementing a new way of working is to discontinue the change management activities as soon as the project reaches the go-live stage. The team is often moved on to a new project or disbanded so people can go back to existing roles.
Why is this an issue? A structured approach to change management ensures employees embrace, adopt, use and sustain the new way of working. At the go-live stage, employees have rarely (read “never”) reached the usage potential of the new system or process. It takes time and practice for staff to unlearn old habits and to master new skills or behaviours. You certainly won’t have reached the project’s ultimate utilisation goals or your expected return on investment at this stage.
There are three key things that should be done after go-live to successfully implement any change management project and to maximise the return on investment.
1. Listen to employees: Check in with employees on how the change is working because they’re in a good position to see issues. This feedback can help develop corrective actions and post-implementation change management activities. You can survey staff, run focus groups or just have a “chat”.
2. Check compliance levels:
There are a number of ways of checking compliance. The change management team can carry out real time observation to see how often the old way of doing things is still being used. Or the team can have managers and supervisors do it and report back.
Analysing performance reports and system usage reports can be another useful tool.
If the change management team disappears, who will co-ordinate these activities and make sure any issues are discovered and rectified? Who will ensure proficiency and utilisation is where it should be?
3. Test effectiveness:
There is little point implementing a change without testing if the change has taken and also testing if the change is achieving the desired outcome. The new way of working may be better and staff may embrace the change but they may not be proficient. The change management team can test this through quantitative and qualitative measures such as adoption metrics, feedback metrics, employee performance measures and overall project performance measures.
A redesign may be needed or a simple resource, such as additional training, to get back on track. If the change management team is there, it can quickly understand and rectify any of these issues before the opportunity is lost.
Change fatigue is a real issue. Making sure the change management team stays around post-implementation to complete the project will pay dividends for the current project and assist in building long-term change management capability in your organisation.
Lenore Miller is a Hunter-based change management practitioner and an employee engagement and capability expert lenoremiller.com