How To Develop Change Management Training For Leaders In Your Company

Corey Bleich
5 min read

If it’s true that the only constant in life is change, then it must also be true that the only constant in business is the need for change management training. Helping your employees move with agility through the ever-changing landscape of business is an important challenge, and change management training for leaders can help them better manage transitions. This is why it’s important and how you can set up a program in your company.

What is change management and why is it important?

Every company of every size in every place across the globe comes face to face with the most powerful and challenging of all aspects of business sooner or later: change.

Change can come in the form of restructuring an entire company, implementing a new software program, complying with government regulations, or any other factor large or small that makes employees shake up how they have done business in the past.

Change management is the crucial bridge that helps employees navigate these sometimes-troubled waters. Former Bell Labs engineer and program manager Jeff Hiatt formed a company that specializes in change management, surveying 4,000 leaders in 56 companies to get a better idea of why change management (and change management training) is so important.

The three main takeaways?

1. Increases your chances of success

The statistics are grim: an estimated 60-70% of all changes in organizations of all sizes fail.

With an agile change management process, though, 81% of the leaders surveyed by Hiatt reported implementing change successfully, on time and often under budget.

2. People matter

While a civilization run by robots is still the stuff of sci-fi, for now your business is made up of people. And one of the main reasons change fails or cripples a business? The leaders implementing the change forget how people are affected.

Hiatt refers to this as a “rollover, not a rollout.”

3. Quality change management process matters

It’s not about setting 40 different systems in place to manage changes to your business.

Chances are good that changes of all sizes can be successfully implemented with just one high-quality change management process delivered effectively by well-trained managers and executives.

What skills are required for change management?

Change management requires delicately balancing your forward-focused vision with the realities of employees who may be resistant to change. People resist change due to fear of the unknown and not knowing why the change might be important or beneficial to them in the long-run. The first (and arguably most important) skill required is the ability to ease employee fears and explain the vision in a way that garners excitement and buy-in at all levels.

Other skills required for change management are a combination of hard and soft skills that include the following.

A spirit of collaboration

Although top-down change is sometimes necessary (i.e., when it comes to federal or governmental regulations), collaborating with employees in terms of how the changes are made and what they might actually look like is crucial.

Commitment to training

One of the main reasons why changes fail is because employees are not adequately trained in the new system or process.

Committing to effective, ongoing training increases your organization’s chances of success.

Modeling the change

If you are asking employees to switch to an entirely new way of doing things but resisting learning a new system yourself, how can you expect cheerful compliance (or compliance at all)? The most powerful leaders in the world are open to learning new things all the time. This might mean participating in the same learning modules along with your employees.

In practical terms, this means a change management process that is well-grounded in management best practices and supported by practical implementation that makes sense, eases fears, and is delivered just-in-time for employees.

How to create change management training

Training managers and executives in the change management process can be tricky. In some companies, even the smallest change (e.g., changing the coffee supplier in the breakroom) can bring about disruption.

How can you implement change management training that is supportive of managers and helps them to be more effective?

Help them develop and articulate their vision

A training needs analysis is the first part of any effective training program.

Adapting this to help managers and executives clearly articulate their vision is an important first step. If the idea is still just a vague picture in their head, change management training starts with developing that picture into a feature film that anyone can understand.

Starting with seven basic questions can help managers and executives become clearer in their ideas, for themselves and their employees.

Design a clear process to get to that vision

Now that the vision is in place, the next step in the change management process is to work backwards. Making sweeping organizational change can feel like climbing Mt. Everest without oxygen. What steps do you need to take to prepare employees for change? How can you answer questions, ease fears, and schedule practical skill building sessions?

The phrase “Just do it” is a recipe for disaster.

Build a ladder for change that helps employees scramble up the mountain of change with the proper gear.

Budget the necessary resources

Your resources always include:

  • Time, especially within an employee’s potentially already packed day
  • Money
  • Space for materials and training

Don’t expect your managers to implement changes if only half of the office has the tools (and time) they need. This will only end in frustration (and failure).

Consider the format

If executives struggle to add one more thing to their day, mLearning can be an effective way to deliver easily digestible (and actionable) training modules that are efficient and affordable. Likewise, geo-fenced resources can send push notifications to an employee’s phone when they enter a worksite with new changes in place.

At EdgePoint, we know that change management training for leaders can be especially challenging to design and implement. Get in touch today to see how we can help!

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