Keeping your stakeholders happy when implementing change can make a major difference when it comes to the success of your company. Managing change means that you’ve found the potential for improvement in your business. Some reasons could be advances in technology, adapting to an event or optimizing your organizational structure.
Making progress and improving your business is an important factor for your company’s success.
However, implementing change means that everyone affected by your change (project stakeholders or others) needs to be on board in order to execute the change.
If you’re anything like me you’ve probably heard something like this before:
“We have always done it this way and it works, why should we change?”
Resistance to change is a common challenge Business Analysts face when trying to implement new processes.
Why can resistance harm the success of your project?
Resistance means to slow down or even prevent change from happening and this directly affects the success of your change project.
Stakeholder resistance is a serious problem and missing acceptance and adoption of new processes is a common cause for failures in innovation!
So how do we prevent resistance?
Preventing resistance comes down to keeping your stakeholders happy and engaged in your change project. Happy and engaged stakeholders will drive change and move your project forward to help you succeed!
The following 5 steps will walk you through some techniques that will actively help in keeping your stakeholders happy thus ensuring a higher success rate for your change.
1 — Understand why
If you want to keep your stakeholders happy, it‘s a good first step to understand why they are resisting. An easy answer to this question might be to assume that “People just don’t like change”. But the problem is more complex than that.
Most humans actually like change. Change means learning new things which triggers our brain to grow new new cells preventing depression according to Neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret .
So if change activates learning and learning grows your brain cells (which accordingly also decreases depression), why aren’t more stakeholders happy when change is being implemented?
Because it’s not that easy. People are not simply for or against change.
When managing change it’s our job to understand where the resistance comes from and according to change advocate Heather Stagl common reasons are:
- The change majorly interrupts someone’s routine
- Someone doesn’t know exactly what to do but is afraid to ask
- People might be upset because the change has a huge effect on them but their opinion wasn’t asked
- Or they are upset because they think making a change means they are not doing a good job at the moment
2 — Don’t take it personally
As soon as you’ve understood where the resistance of your stakeholders is coming from it is also easier to not take it personally. Taking resistance to change personally is a common pitfall change managers find themselves in.
By taking resistance to change personally, your project suddenly becomes a battle to win and fighting the resistance is not the answer. Change managers should focus their time on improving the relationship with their stakeholders to engage them in a positive way.
3 — Have a purpose
A lot of frustration can come from stakeholders feeling overwhelmed and not informed enough to actively participate in the change. It’s your job to make sure that everyone involved knows the ‘what’ and ‘why’ (we’ll get to the how later).
Before making changes, be sure to know exactly what you want to change and why you want to change it.
It’s not enough to have an answer to these questions, the key is to loop the stakeholders in and make sure that everyone understands what will be changed and why.
Communicating the purpose of a change is a huge step towards making your stakeholders happy and will make a big difference in how well the implementation of your change goes.
Once you’ve got people on board you will have a great foundation for getting your stakeholders engaged.
4 — Describe what you are doing as a process
As W. Edwards Deming said “If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing”.
Process modeling is the best way of planning for and implementing change because it helps you figure out the most effective and efficient solution to your goals.
Another great benefit of using process models is that they are much easier to read. While written documentation might be great, you can‘t expect your stakeholders to read a hundred page document. A process model, however, fits on one page and provides an easy to read visual overview.
Read up on how to model a process: What is a workflow and how to get started
5 — Use collaborative technology to keep everyone in the loop
Involving your stakeholders when implementing change is a very helpful way of keeping your stakeholders happy and ensuring the design of good processes.
It will not only help to ensure the design of good processes but also encourage personal commitments to deliver the desired outcomes.
Empowering your stakeholders will provide a feeling of responsibility and control regarding the upcoming changes.
The easiest way to collaborate when implementing change is to use collaborative software for the design of your process models. You will have a much easier time collaborating on your process if you use software dedicated to that from the get go.
Opening the doors for stakeholders to collaborate and give feedback during the process definition phase in an easy uncomplicated way to their happiness.
Using the right software for your change project will decide whether it is successful or not.
Most change projects you will be working on will probably include some sort of IT setup and a business end-user. In this case, your stakeholders are developers (developing the IT setup) and business users (implementing the new process). A common challenge for Business Analysts is to bring developers and business users together.
With Cawemo you can design new processes using the developer friendly BPMN 2.0 framework without needing to write any code yourself. At the same time, Cawemo’s easy-to-use interface is perfect for business users and for collaboration on teams.
If you want to learn more about modeling workflow diagrams (you don’t need any prior BPMN knowledge) make sure to watch our “Workflow Design (BPMN) Tutorial”.