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Change Management: The Enabler of Continuous Improvement

In last month's Results+ Fleet Performance Summit, I had the opportunity to speak about change management. These two words can evoke several reactions. For some, it’s music to their ears; for others it creates frustration and a bit of anxiety.

Wheels Change Management

It’s a well-known fact that change is hard. Yet, many organizations continue to struggle to implement new processes. Oftentimes, this is the result of not taking human factors into account.

Effective change management is all about people. We’re all different. We each have varying values, beliefs, motivators, interests and more. Once a plan is in place and we begin executing it, we must continually adapt it for each individual based on feedback.

As change agents, our plans can’t be a one size fits all approach. Prosci’s ADKAR Model is an effective method for assessing which stage people are in as they progress in their change journey.

  • Awareness: Knowing the nature of the change and why change is needed.
  • Desire: What’s in it for me? A personal decision to engage and participate.
  • Knowledge: Understanding what is needed of you for the change.
  • Ability: The demonstrated capability to implement the change.
  • Reinforcement: Actions that increase the likelihood that the change will be sustained.

Here are the steps toward effectively implementing change management.

Set a clear strategy

A solid change management strategy is guided by an assessment of who the change will affect, their readiness for change, the risks of the change and the impacts of the change. Knowing these different aspects will allow you to anticipate resistance and develop special tactics to preempt it. After developing a high-level strategy, the next step is to identify the right team to build out the change plans. Within this team, you need at least one executive sponsor to serve as a vocal champion for the change.

Develop and follow the execution plan

Next, develop detailed change management plans, featuring the following:

  • Communications – Identify which individuals will receive the communications, at which points throughout the project you’ll send these messages and what type of updates are crucial to keeping the group informed. Note: People, on average, need to hear something seven times before acting on it.
  • Sponsorship – When should your executive sponsor send messages versus someone else? Determine the steps needed to ensure the executive’s advocacy of the project is consistently relayed to the group.
  • Coaching – Not everyone will know how to fulfill their role in the change. Create a plan to coach those instrumental in driving the change. Put extra effort in preparing front line managers as they can make or break the change. If they aren’t brought into it, it’s likely they won’t effectively sell it to their team.
  • Resistance management – Assess where you might find resistance. How will you address it upfront? What tools and techniques will you need to employ to get them on board? How will you collect feedback?
  • Training – How will you train everyone on the new process? Will you employ the See One, Do One, Teach One method or something else? How will you confirm that you’ve transferred the knowledge?

Ensure you have the answers to the questions posited above and develop more that fit your project’s parameters.

Reinforce the process

After you’ve enacted your plan, the final step is to reinforce the change. Actively listen to the feedback you’re receiving and adjust to it. As mentioned before, your plan must constantly adjust. Identify where everyone is within the ADKAR model and create plans to get them to the next phase. Also, you need to measure adherence to the new way of doing things. Sometimes this requires performing audits of the process. Lastly, don’t forget to celebrate the team’s successes and acknowledge them for their efforts.

In fleet, we have no option but to change. Whether we like it or not, the industry is constantly evolving. It’s changing in terms of mobility options, own/lease/reimbursements models, vehicle propulsion systems (gas/electric), and that’s all independent of the changes occurring in each of your businesses.

The next time you embark on a pivotal change, think about how you’re going to manage it to increase the probability of your project’s success.

If you would like to partner with us on a quality project, please email me at jlipes@wheels.com.