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Organizational Change and Strategic Leadership

Change is difficult for people to swallow, and that often means that the first response a project manager will encounter is resistance. No matter how many benefits the new technology or system will provide, there will be those who think the old way of doing things was better. In order to institute change effectively, it’s important to get the major stakeholders on board, spot potential road blocks, and promote two-way communication.

Engaging the Stakeholders

Getting primary stakeholders on board with the project is essential for bringing about lasting change. Once the board members, executives, investors, etc. understand and believe in the need for change, they can act as ambassadors to promote benefits to those around them. How do you get these stakeholders to get behind the project?

  • Solicit feedback—Ask about both positive and negative views regarding the proposed change. Encouraging collaboration helps stakeholders take ownership of the initiative, making it more likely that they will champion the changes among those they influence.
  • Address concerns promptly—When negative opinions are expressed, take the time to identify the roadblocks that prevent acceptance of the project changes. Address those roadblocks and take the concerns of interested parties seriously.
  • Provide continual messaging—The more communication you provide, the better your stakeholders will feel about the changes, particularly when unexpected problems or modifications arise.

Identify Potential Change Inhibitors

Even with positive messaging and support from stakeholders, it’s still likely that barriers to change will surface. The key is to anticipate them or identify them quickly when they arise. Some of the most common include:

  • Lack of time for implementation—Change doesn’t happen overnight, and people won’t adopt new changes overnight either. The project timetable should include time for training in the new software or technology as well as plenty of time for messaging and feedback.
  • Insufficient skills or knowledge—New technology often brings with it new skill requirements for users. These requirements may not seem daunting for your IT staff, but end users may be intimidated. Include training sessions, workshops, and opportunities for questions or feedback as part of your project strategy.
  • Naysayers—Don’t resist naysayers or write them off. Instead, take their concerns seriously and ask them for help in developing potential solutions.

The final piece of the puzzle is to promote two-way communication. Each team member should have an opportunity to offer feedback at strategic points during the project. At the same time, the project manager must provide continual messaging with the goal of promoting the need for change, offering support during various stages of the project, and addressing problems or concerns as they arise.New call-to-action