Change is difficult for many people to process. But for project team members, implementing change is a core part of the role. You need to know how to work in a constantly changing environment and you need the skills to help your stakeholders work through changes that affect them, too. Most project teams have a change management strategy in place, but it’s a good idea to review your approach periodically to see if there are ways to boost the effectiveness of your efforts.
Understanding the context of the changes occurring because of your project—both during the execution phase and after the effort is complete—is one key to elevating your approach to change management. Giving users context around the shifts that will happen helps maintain their buy-in and better equips them to process and accept the changes that are coming.
Which types of context are most meaningful in a project change management strategy?
Understanding the context of changes created by a project is vital if you want to help end users and other stakeholders understand and deal with the upcoming adjustments in a positive way. To develop the right kind of insight around context, you need to identify some key elements.
The reasons for the upcoming changes. Your stakeholders may understand that things will change, but it would be a mistake to assume they always know why. For example, if a particular workflow will be different after the project is complete, an end user might wonder why a different plan—one that upends what they perceive to be a less central process than what’s currently scheduled for a makeover or, better yet, a plan that doesn’t upend any processes at all—wasn’t used instead. Explaining the reasoning behind key decisions can help users see that, even if they face some unwelcome disruption in their day-to-day jobs, it really is the best path forward to achieve optimal project results.
The benefits those changes are expected to deliver. It’s unusual for every stakeholder to be aware of the full scope of good things that will arrive as part of a project. Particularly when it comes to wide-ranging and highly impactful initiatives, each person or functional area is likely to experience only a small slice of the action. Illustrating that bigger picture for them, with an emphasis on the many positives that will eventually come to fruition, gives stakeholders the clarity they need to put the changes in perspective.
The anticipated effects the changes will have. Sometimes the most worrisome part of an impending change is all the unknowns. Will a task take me longer to complete? How many technologies will I need to master to do my job? What are all the bad things that could become reality once this change happens? Those are good questions to ask, but end users may not know who can give them answers, or if answers are even fully known right now. Providing an accurate and candid look at what everything will be like post-change can be a truly enlightening experience for stakeholders and allows them to eliminate some of the unknowns they may be worrying about.
With context in hand, you can more accurately and effectively anticipate and address the needs and concerns of the end users who will experience changes as the project moves along. This proactive approach enables you to get in front of potential issues and minimize pushback or hesitation from stakeholders. By adding relevant context to the changes created by a project, teams can help end users understand the purpose of the changes and ultimately increase their buy-in and support.