Organizational and project change is difficult because – primarily – it involves humans who are programmed to like the status quo.
Businesses underestimate the impact of change management at their peril. However, the tendency is to focus on project management delivery, strategy execution and the outcomes of delivering projects.
Clearly, those are all vital considerations but, when dealing with people, project managers need to do more than just go through the tasks on their Gantt charts; change can have a significant impact on people – maybe even putting them out of a job – and this is often missed in the drive to the project finishing line.
Typical change and project management mistakes
What are the typical mistakes organizations make when embarking on change?
- Not including all stakeholders
People who will be affected by change but are not active, hands-on stakeholders can get overlooked. In the rush to get a project started, the more passive – but important – end users may not be involved in the process and information might not be cascaded well enough.
- Not starting early enough
At the start of projects there is often a lack of time spent on project set up, including a communications plan. It’s true that organizations would rather communicate the whole story and that’s not always possible at the outset. However, people appreciate knowing that something is happening. This gives them more time to absorb the eventual change that’s coming.
- Treating change management as user training only
People are incredibly busy and until they understand how change is going to affect them personally, they probably don’t care. This is frustrating for project managers, but it’s your job to engage them and get results. That means you need to evaluate what people understand rather than just sending emails out into the void.