January 6, 2017

Change Management: Putting Managers in Position to Succeed

Anytime Fitness New Corporate Headquarters

“It’s just a small renovation. This shouldn’t be a big deal?”

Famous. Last. Words. The small project explodes, not by size but by disruption – to office work flow, team structure, amenities, technology, mobile team members, etc.

Projects of any size bring change, and change is a big deal. No matter the size of the project.

Whenever we introduce change to an organization, one of the keys to a successful project is a strategy for change management. More than about managing change, change management identifies how change will impact people and processes – your business, finances, customers, technology, learning, and growth. It is the story of why behind the project, because changing space is easy, but changing minds is not.

The why of a project is an often forgotten story that is drowned out by the noise of project implementation – the budget, square feet, MEP systems, schedule. This key missed step in defining and communicating the why or value story for an organization is one reason change does not happen, or fails within 6-12 months despite the goals and business objectives that sparked the project. And the project manager is left to explain a different why.

For project managers and administrators charged with implementing a project, a successful change management strategy begins with an intimate understanding of the project – connecting the business objectives to goals and defining the impact that the change will have on your organization.

Defining the business case for change is critical in early discussions about project initiatives with leaders. To be successful in these conversations, it’s important to engage leadership with questions like the ones below to shape everyone’s understanding of the goals and objectives for project initiatives:

  • Why are we doing this?
  • What are the measures of success?
  • How does this impact our business and staff, processes, and tools?
  • What will our customers think about the change?
  • When is the best time to implement the change?

The answers to these questions benefit project managers on multiple levels. They drive scope and budget, but, as important, they identify the purpose and organizational value of the project. They shape the story of why behind a project – the start of building support for change and a guide during the change when needing to make tough decisions.

At Self-Esteem Brands/Anytime Fitness, why drove much of the change that led to a new headquarters for the fast-growing company: create a people-oriented space to support the success of its staff, teams and franchise partners and develop a purpose-driven environment to inspire people to change lives and tackle one’s fears. They also developed a list of key measures of success, from higher productivity and growth to more collaborative teams, ideas, and solutions.

Identifying these driving forces gave leadership language to communicate to employees and stakeholders the what and why they were moving and building a new headquarters in addition to giving design language for the design team to develop the facility and benchmarks on which to make decisions.

At BWBR, a renovation also created a radical change in a portion of our work space that rippled through the whole organization. A key part of the success of this change has been the well-defined why story that has been shared with the entire organization. There has also been a concerted effort to manage change and measure success along the way. (You can read more about our story of change here.)

Change of any kind isn’t easy, and it can be especially difficult to inspire large organizational change that requires people to think differently about how they work. It can also be easy to overlook the story as budgets and schedules are developed.

Behind the numbers of a project is change, though, and reaction to change. How well that change is managed deep into the project depends significantly on how well that change is understood from the beginning. Developing the why with leadership at the start, people throughout the organization will understand better the impact and purpose behind the change.

The next step is involving key people from every level of your organization to be change advocates and provide feedback to help you learn what’s working and what’s not. Read more about how to do this in our next blog post about change management.

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