Continuing Lectra’s series of guest blogs on the topic of change management, this third and final instalment examines ways of maintaining change over an extended period of time, ensuring that the transformation is both effective and sustainable.
Outside the parameters of the company, but closely tied to it, are suppliers. Don’t forget that they are also affected by the change you undertake and will need to learn a new way to work with you. As with employees, it is beneficial to reach out to them very early in the process to inform them of the approaching change and hear their thoughts and concerns. Sometimes it is even possible to accommodate their requests into your plans. For instance, it may be possible to easily implement a simple report functionality requested by your supplier into the PLM. Hearing objections from suppliers after implementation is complete can create unnecessary tension. It is also important to check in with them regularly after the implementation to ensure that they are managing smoothly.
Change can feel frightening at times, but staying focused on the future vision will keep teams from losing their way.
A change project as large in scope as a PLM will usually take several months to complete. Even the most enthusiastic teams can eventually lose steam. That is why it is critical to plan out a series of activities, such as training and communications, with a regular cadence. Well-timed training sessions serve not only to train on new skills but can reinvigorate a project through reminding participants of the goals and give them a chance to brush up on skills they have already acquired. Additionally, training is an excellent way to monitor that the behaviour changes are sticking.
A robust communication plan that relies on different tools, such as webcasts, email newsletters, etc., can help to boost momentum for the project when it is nearing completion by regularly communicating success stories, just as the communication of ‘quick wins’ serves to create enthusiasm early on. Stories of how teams are benefiting from features of the new system, as well as individual recognition for jobs well done will ensure energy levels do not wane near the end of the project.
Once the new system and process are successfully implemented, there may be a natural inclination to ease up on monitoring, but this would be a mistake. Post-project completion is a precarious time, one when old habits can inadvertently slip back in. Or, perhaps there are some individual employees who never really bought into the new process, but went along with it on the surface, while in fact secretly relying on their old comfortable paper tools. Such behaviour needs to identified and remedied through individual conversation, training or a team meeting. Middle managers are often in the best position to sustain change because they are in a role to ensure that behaviour changes are actually in place.
To guarantee that the change is sustained, periodical reviews are required so that any previously unforeseen challenges can be addressed with the new, post-change technology and process. A successful change management project has a long term impact on company culture, changing the very way that the teams think about their work, not only how they perform it. The change itself will continue to offer opportunities for improvement long after it is viewed as completed, creating a cycle of continuous improvement.