Why you need to start integrating change management when you’re managing a project
So you’re managing a project. It goes beautifully. Woo! What next? Managing a project can be a bit like baking a cake: you bring all of the ingredients together, mix them up, and create something new, using science or witchcraft (experts still don’t understand how baking works). Sometimes, though, coming to the end of a project can feel like just getting up and walking away, leaving a mess of wrappers, eggshells, and a fine mist of flour for someone else to deal with. Projects involve change. Historically, project management has focused on the status of the project as it moves towards completion. Change management, on the other hand, is about empowering people to adapt to, and with, the changes brought about as a result of your project or other organizational change. That is, if project management focuses on the what, change management focuses on the who. It makes sense that the two would go hand in hand. That’s why the best project managers think ahead to prepare and empower those whose daily work will be affected by the outcomes of their project. (Want to find out what else the best project managers do? Check out our ebook.) Successful change management will assess the readiness of the organization for the incoming change; organize training and development where necessary; coordinate uptake at a leadership level; handle resistance; and positively reinforce the change overall. So how can you begin to integrate change management into the way you manage your project? Start by making it clear that the change is necessary, and outlining the benefits of the change — as well as the risks of not implementing it. Make sure that you provide clear information that explains the whys and the hows of the incoming change to the organization at large. This transparency is critical, as misinformation can become one of the biggest sources of resistance. It’s also important to engage sponsors to support the change. Sponsors are people in leadership positions who actively and visibly endorse the change, prior to, during, and after its implementation. As a project manager, you can coach the sponsor through their role and encourage them to actively and publically support your project and any organizational changes that come out of it. One of the most important steps you can take is identifying who will be most affected by your project and in what ways. Once you’ve done this, you can then build the necessary support for them into your Big Picture Plan for your project. This might include specialized training, workshops, mentoring programs, coaching, or building out a library of resources. Make sure to check in with those most affected often throughout the process, not just at the beginning. Support isn’t just administrative — by providing emotional support too, you can help to ease adoption and reinforce the change, resulting in a smoother process for everyone. Integrating change management is just one way you can become a better, more proactive project manager, whether you’re an Official Project Manager or someone who’s suddenly found themselves in the business of managing projects. Want to learn more tips to help you manage your projects like the pros? Check out our ebook below.