One of the most crucial elements of change management is communication. For a project to be successful, the correct people should be engaged at appropriate times in a manner that will facilitate the action required. Often no action will be required, but a communication may still be important to maintain knowledge and interest in the project.
Communication methods used will vary from audience to audience, and may be dependent on their influence and interest levels. For example, for those audiences categorised as low interest and low influence, a newsletter may be sufficient. For those in the high interest and high influence category the communication methods are likely to be much more dynamic, for example change forums.
Frequency of communication should also be considered at this point, and a Communications Plan established that is overseen by the Project Owner. Crucial to your communications will be providing opportunities for stakeholders to feedback comments and suggestions. You should make it as easy as possible to facilitate this dialogue and ensure mechanisms are in place to enable this.
Implementing a P2P system will result in a change to certain roles within key areas of the business. Naturally this can create anxiety amongst the workforce who may fear a new technology rather than view it as an ally that will improve their decision making, or a conduit to a greater focus on more strategic tasks. Often fear is brought about through the unknown, further underlining why communication is such a vital element of a change process, and why empowering individuals through a training programme is so crucial.
Success is most likely to be achieved when there is a culture that encourages a mindset that ‘it’s ok not to know’ and that ‘it’s ok to ask questions’ when confronted with new technology. Removing a fear of speaking up is a crucial element to empowering individuals to learn most effectively, and more often than not, provides vital insight on the efficacy of a potential solution.
When creating your training programme, recognising that individuals have very different learning styles will also provide the most effective learning outcomes. Ideally there should be opportunity for hands-on learning, visual learning, auditory learning and time allowed for quiet reflection. Providing a library of content, such as manuals and How To Guides for example is a great option for those who prefer to work through visual content independently. Ultimately the training will often be governed by the culture of an organisation and the time and resource available, but it is important to factor in and cater for different learning styles where possible.
Maintain the Change
Change management is a thread that weaves its way through the entire P2P transformation process, from initial explorations right through to adoption. As you work through this journey, stakeholders will change, as will methods and frequency of communication. But what is essential is that throughout the venture, stakeholders are reminded of the reason behind the change. A regular drumbeat of success stories will reinforce the effectiveness of the transformation, driving inclination to use the system, providing affirmation that the steps that have been undertaken so far were correct, and quashing the voices of cynics (of which there will always be some).
Crucial too is that whilst planning is vital, your plan is not so rigid that you cannot divert from the vision if you need to. An effective transformation is a living concept, fed by ideas, feedback and suggestions. Adapting the plan is not an indication of failure, it’s about acknowledging that no project will ever be perfect from the outset. What matters most is how quickly and effectively you adapt and change. Through careful planning, stakeholder alignment, engagement and maintenance, you give your organisation the best opportunity to manage that change and change successfully.