Failure reasons in change management are many and varied. But one thing is painfully clear. Any organisational initiative that creates change - or has a significant change element to it - has a 70% chance of not achieving what was originally envisaged.
The root cause of all this failure is lack of clarity and a lack of communication - and even more fundamentally - the lack of a language and contextual framework to articulate and manage the necessary processes of change.
This is what a Programme Management based approach to change is all about and why it so important.
One important aspect of programme management is “Stakeholder Analysis and Mapping” and this is all about, in other words: "Who is this step change going to affect and how are they going to react?".
How well you listen to and respond to ALL of your stakeholders' issues - and are seen to be doing so - is a significant measure of the effectiveness of your management of these relationships.
Leadership skills make a big difference to successfully managing stakeholder relationships. This is where the management of expectations matters.
3 Key questions
Here are 3 key questions to ask in how to manage expectations in a change initiative:
1. Do people really know what is expected of them?
Do your people know how to translate the high level vision and strategy into actionable steps?
People are very different in the ways they process information, interpret life, and in the ways they are motivated.
Many (probably most) of them are not able to make the leap from hearing and understanding your vision and strategy to translating that into purposeful productive action. This does not mean that they don't understand it, or agree with it, but it does simply mean that the leap is too great for most people to make - without your practical assistance.
2. Do employees actually know what they can expect from you?
It is extremely important to that they know that you will work with them in "grinding out" in practical, manageable detail what the high level strategy, vision, values things actually mean for them as the "troops" in action.
3. Do your employees really know what is expected of each other?
They also need to know what these actionable steps mean for them in terms of what they can and should expect from each other.
Of all strategies for managing change - the programme management based approach is the most likely to ensure that you avoid the staggering and needless 70% failure rate, and addressing the question: "Who is this step change going to affect and how are they going to react?" is fairly critical to your potential success.
The Programme will inevitably affect the working lives of many individuals and groups. Each of these should be identified via stakeholder analysis, together with their particular interest in Programme and mapped.
The work undertaken at the Pre Programme Review and Planning stage will have identified many of these people and entities and the issues that will arise.
They may be identified from the following:
Owners or shareholders, executive management, operational management and staff of the organisation(s) sponsoring the programme
Owners or shareholders, executive management, operational management and staff of the organisation(s) affected by the Programme
Customers or consumers who will be affected by the Programme’s outcome
Owners or shareholders, executive management, operational management and staff of the organisation(s) supplying goods or services to the programme or its constituent projects
Owners or shareholders, executive management, operational management and staff of the organisation(s) supplying goods or services to organisation(s) affected by the programme - either positively or negatively
Internal and/or external audit
The wider community in which the affected organisation(s) exist
Project Management teams established to deliver the projects within the programme
Each of these people and groups will have a specific interest area, such as financial, technical, regulatory etc so when you are identifying them it is important to recognise their specific interest areas in order to ensure that their expectations can be managed effectively.
There clearly will be individuals or groups who will be worse off as a result of the programme and who are therefore potential 'blockers' to the progress of the programme. Both the positive and negative viewpoints should be considered as part of stakeholder management.
Also, the Pre Programme Review and Planning will have identified issues associated with these individuals or groups and determined potential solutions and strategies for resolving the issues.
Information dissemination and two-way communications are critical for managing expectations effectively.
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