In our ever-evolving digital workplace, we are seeing now more than ever the need for effective change management, and while this may seem commonplace for some, the concept of change management can still be a bold idea to introduce within your organization. But, as our workplace has shifted to a digital norm, so has the role of change management. Despite missing an obvious human connection to our daily interactions, the role of change management has not lost focus on the people component of project success. Here are some tips how you can adopt “digital change management” for projects big or small.
Communication and Training Plans (and the digital review)
One of the largest aspects of a change management plan is the scheduled, structured approach to targeted communications and training sessions. For most change management professionals – and almost any professional for that matter – we are often drafting in .doc or .xls formats, so this shouldn’t be a change. But, how we review our plans with clients or stakeholders can be a unique challenge in a remote environment.
Depending on the scale of the project and stakeholder availability, you can iterate through various sessions or take a targeted approach by drafting preliminary plans prior to any review, but as a best practice, prepare as much of the deliverable prior to any review session regardless of plans to iterate live or not. This can eliminate some wasted time in Teams or Zoom meetings, but also alleviate some of the pressure associated with reviewing documents live as participants can sometime be wide-eyed when reviewing a large-scale doc. Moreover, as change leaders we will need to focus on overall project governance and holding our stakeholders and sponsor true to their responsibilities. It can be easy to slip from project timelines with unclear asks and responsibilities, as well as lack of accountability for any missed tasks. Coordinate efforts to effectively review any project plans while also being clear on roles, responsibilities, and expectations.
Feedback Sessions and Open Forums
Despite current circumstances working remote, there may be opportunity for change professionals to take advantage of our new remote office space. For some, in March and April team meetings or discussions began to stagnate and what were once lively conversations have now turned it to a game of musical chairs of the mute button. So, as we have become more comfortable with our coworkers’ initials or faces across the screen, so are we about speaking up in these meetings.
As change leads, we can use weekly meetings or check-ins as opportunities for open forums and feedback gathering but read the “room” and make determinations about video “on” or “off.” This may seem trivial, but when participants have the opportunity to speak freely without the fear of being camera shy or carrying telling expressions on their face you will begin to see more open and honest feedback. Larger groups tend to function better with minimal distractions and opportunities for interruptions (like microphone feedback and video effect backgrounds), so plan to have these meetings in a camera-off setting to reduce any risks of disruptions or distractions.
Track the Right Adoption Metrics
While this concept is always true, we need to consider how we track and measure project success through our metrics. Back in the days of old (say 2019), one on one conversations with end users about new tools or systems were much more frequent and impromptu, but now we need to be mindful how we monitor our project success and how we reinforce positive changes. When looking at your adoption metrics, whatever they may be, consider larger trends within your group and how you can address larger, overarching concerns or misses to the group as a whole. Use any feedback sessions or open forums we previously discussed to try to understand the root causes of any concerns or problems and begin to adjust your plan accordingly.
An important consideration, however, is monitoring the right metrics for success and not belaboring over any metrics not relevant to project success. Most importantly, though, is to find ways to track your team’s adoption levels without having to spend time interviewing and coaching individuals in ad-hoc intervals – time management is key to change management. By effectively managing the change for a particular project and staying true to schedules, you should see an increase in efficiency and over positive returns on any time management. Taking this concept a step further, by effectively managing a project in tandem with a project manager, we can actually see real ROI by measuring metrics like cycle times and implementation schedules.
By now we have all come across tips on how to function in our current remote workspace ad nauseum, so without sounding like a broken record the key is to adapt to what is working for your team and finding ways to improve. If you are seeing success with open forums for feedback or you notice your teams are more conversational with cameras on, consider how to leverage these nuances for project success.