Over the years I’ve worked with many large Organisations and medium-sized businesses either going through some sort of major transformation or smaller process improvement initiatives. My role and passion lies in making sure that these changes are rolled out in ways that ensure efficiency, effectiveness and are future-proof. In this article I’m sharing my top three tips to help businesses make their process changes stick.
1. Identify and Train your Champions
A Champion is someone who has capability in the area of the defined change, and from there other skills can be taught. Another important element is their ability to build relationships so they can motivate others on the process change journey. One of the ways that a Champion is able to do this is to act as what I like to call an “Interpreter”, someone who can be the bridge between the department where the change is happening, and the department that is able to affect the change or that’s changing something in the system. An interpreter makes sure that the requirements are communicated in a way that makes sense to their audience and effectively demonstrates what the post-change world will look like.
Over the years I’ve identified two different types of champions within a process change journey. You can have the champions that are going to actively push everyone to be interested and involved in the process improvement project, and you can have the champions who are going to lead by example. This means that they become the optimizer of the process changes, they’re going to follow the path, and do the process steps the way that the business wants them done.
Identifying and training your champions is an important first step and leads to another critical element for effective process change – stakeholder engagement.
My top tip for effectively engaging stakeholders: Identify them early and develop an appropriate stakeholder communication plan.
2. Use a variety of tools to communicate the changes.
So, one of the main reasons process changes fall over is due to ineffective communication. Often the change document is written by the team of technical specialists and so it’s important to provide a variety of tools to communicate not only the changes but what the new process is going to look like and how it’s going to work. The detailed document is of course critical but so is engaging training sessions, compelling visuals and an integrated roll out that caters to all learning styles. That’s why a variety of tools is so incredibly important. It also means that you will be able to roll out the change instructions in an engaging way and do it repetitively to ensure effective onboarding.
My top tip for successfully communicating change: Communicate often and with consideration to diversity.
3. Create a clear goal
With any process improvement project there needs to be a plan. You need to have a goal and that goal needs to be non-negotiable. Clearly identifying and articulating the purpose for the change will also drive everything from how detailed the project plan is to how many people need to be on the core team.
A clear purpose and defined goal are also important so that you’re not changing course at the drop of a hat and if a spanner is thrown in the works you don’t get distracted. It’s really important to stay on track so you can diagnose the pain point that you’re trying to focus on and then be able to successfully measure your success. Through any change process what we want to see is progress. We want that pat on the back that says four weeks ago we were here and now because we have stayed on the path that we initiated we’ve been able to achieve these improvements. Not only does it lead to further success but it’s crucial for engagement and empowerment.
My final piece advice is to always spend the most time on the areas that cause the most pain. This is true from the planning stage where you’ll be able to flush out the unexpected roadblocks right through to the roll out phase where you’ll often uncover things that you didn’t see before. Your process change journey and outcome will be all the better for it.
About the Author
Holly is passionate about sharing business and commercial insights with her clients. Through robust and effective data analysis, she recommends continuous improvement to processes and procedures; improving profit through efficiency gains and stakeholder empowerment through engaged communication.