What Happens When You Add Data To Your Change Management Plan?
In 2012, Harvard Business Review proclaimed data scientist the “sexiest job of the 21st century.” Labeling data handling as sexy may be a bit of an overstatement. But one thing’s for sure: data is only becoming more powerful and critical to business success. The benefits for decision-making, productivity, compliance, and marketing are well known. But what about change management? Can it be as useful as part of your change management plan? The answer is undoubtedly yes. It could even be the key to its success.
The problem with change managementOrganizational change is tricky to get right. This is clear in the often mentionedMcKinsey statistic that 70% of changeinitiatives fail. This is largely due to employee resistance and lack of management support. Even the most carefully laid plans can arouse fear, anxiety, and resistance among staff. Management support can go some way to alleviating those fears and countering resistance, but it won’t eliminate it. This is where data comes in. When people are facing periods of uncertainty, as in times of change, they cling to what is known, what is certain. It’s a big mistake for leaders to assume your employees understand the bigger picture of the market forces affecting your business. You need to clarify it to them — and you can achieve this by sharing hard facts and other data that support the need for change.
The benefits of adding data to your change management planAchieving your desired change results demands a solid understanding between employees and business leaders. You must understand your employees’ fears. They must understand your case for change. Meaningful data can inform your change management plan and sharing that data with employees will encourage their active participation. Here are some reasons why:
1. Sharing data fosters trustThe act of sharing data indicates transparency, which fosters trust. Soldiers run into battle because they trust their leader; they trust that their orders are based on the leader’s sound judgment. It’s the same in business. Hard and fast numbers show employees that you aren’t making decisions based on your own opinions and hunches, but because of the reality of the current state.
2. Facts are persuasiveSharing facts can add real power to your communication. Basing your communication on real data will make what you say more meaningful, persuasive, and effective. Anchoring your messages with hard facts will show employees the change is happening for a good reason. Effective communication is a core component of successful change management. From Kotter to Prosci, your change process won’t get far without it.
3. Data helps you tell the storyData adds the detail that turns your change vision into a story to which employees can relate. Fleshing out your vision with data gives you a chance to inspire employees and turn a perceived threat into an opportunity. It also helps to remedy their fears by providing answers to their questions — even before they have to ask them. This helps to nip resistance in the bud.
4. Sharing makes employees feel includedIt’s the same in the workplace as it is in the playground. The sharing of information makes people feel included. Withholding it has the opposite effect. Sharing meaningful data with employees breaks down the “us vs. them” barrier. It makes a strong statement: We’re in this together and we value you enough to share this information with you. By giving employees their own part in the project and data to monitor, they can take ownership and feel invested in its success.
What sort of data to include and how to use itYou can gather data from a range of sources, internal and external to the business. The data you incorporate into your change management plan will depend on your change goals. Are you trying to improve process efficiency? Implement new software? Restructure an apartment? Whatever the goal of your change initiative, you need data to support it. Once you’ve formulated your change management plan based on data, use it to craft a communication campaign internally. This could include:
- Key messages, illustrating:
- the need for change (“the burning platform”), and
- the vision for the future.
- Visual aids to explain the data and the journey ahead
- Plans, research, and future forecasts/predictions