The 7 keys to making your change a success

03 September 2018

Done right, CM can boost your chances of meeting your objectives on time and on budget by up to 6 times.

author picture Article written by Vincent Piedboeuf

Success is no accident. Even less so when it comes to dealing with change in uncertain times. With a healthy dose of Change Management, you can make the most of your transformational efforts and stay ahead of the game. And best of all, it can boost your chances of meeting your objectives on time and on budget by up to 6 times.

No matter how big and daunting the task, we have your back covered. The 2018 benchmark report from our partner PROSCI incorporates the latest advances in CM research[1]. Here are, in a nutshell, the 7 keys – or top contributors - to making your change effective and long-lasting.

Top contributor #1: active and visible sponsorship.

Senior leaders must take the driver’s seat and lead by example. The biggest issue with this number one rule is that designated sponsors too often fail to understand what specific actions their role entails. The ABC of sponsorship includes being (A)ctive and visible from start to end of the project, (B)uilding a sponsorship coalition to ensure strategic alignment and (C)ommunicating directly with employees on the business reasons for change. Like it or not, sponsoring takes more than “signing a few checks” and sending a bunch of emails just to get the ball rolling.


Top contributor #2: dedicated resources.

The core mission of CM is to drive adoption and usage. And “if it’s not someone’s job, it’s no one’s job”. Maintaining a strong focus on the people side of change requires dedicated resources. As a stand-alone unit or merged with the project team, a CM team provides a single much-needed point of contact. If you’re still not sold on that idea, you may want to ponder the risks of notallocating proper resources. Chances are coordination will suffer and no one will be held accountable.

Top contributor #3: a structured approach.

Again, getting everyone on board and proficient “with the solution” takes consistent effort and a structured approach. Think of change as a process and, in its final form, as a mosaic of individual transitions. It is only logical that a big part of the challenge should be to break down the process into step by step instructions (ADKAR) and to focus on the building blocks of change i.e. people’s trajectories. Best results are achieved when Change Management is brought to the table at the initiation phase of the project. Change Management is not there to patch up the problems after the fact, so be proactive. Better safe than sorry.

Top contributor #4: employee engagement.

Change happens one person at a time. The likelihood of success increases when individuals are properly engaged and in the right conditions to start performing their job differently. Desire for change comes with awareness and a solid understanding of the implications of change on a personal level (WIIFM = What’s In It For Me).  Simply put, engagement is desire given proper levels of support. In that sense, the role of managers can hardly be overemphasized. It’s not for nothing that their own engagement is a top contributor in itself (#7).

Top contributor #5: communication.

You certainly have a “telling plan” in the back of your mind. Good, but this is not the same as a communication plan. Confused? Consider the perspective of the project team versus that of the rest of the organisation. For the former, what matters is the practical solution and the next milestone. For employees, however, the reasons and personal implications of change are of particular importance: “why change, why now, what if not, what’s in it for me (WIIFM), how am I impacted, how will it happen”? Offering answers to these questions at the right time, to the right audience, through the right channel and sender, is what CM communications are all about.

Top contributor #6: integration with Project Management.

The best designed technical solution is bound to fail if disregarded or misused. This simple fact highlights the importance of integrating change management with project management. There is no single answer for how you should do this but consider the following levels: people (collaboration setting, cross-training, role definition), process (common plan, timeline alignment, tasks sequencing, deliverables) and method. In fact, CM should ultimately become an organisational competence in its own right. Rate your CM maturity level using the PROSCI audit tool and take it to the next level!

Top contributor #7: middle management engagement.

Managers are everything. For that matter, they wear a number of different hats: coaches, communicators, advocates, liaison and resistance managers. Their proximity to the field, operational knowledge, trust and/or long-standing relationships with employees play an important part in driving engagement. Coaching employees and managing resistance are usually the hardest tasks. Make sure managers are provided with proper guidance and remember the one rule transversal to all top factors of success: like any member of the organisation, they have to go through their own personal transition first. Only then can managers cascade the change and make it long-lasting.  


[1] This report draws upon 10 studies conducted by PROSCI over 20 years. PROSCI (2018), Top contributors to Change Management Success [online]

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