Change management doesn’t need to be the beast you might think it is. Here are seven change management best practices that will see your change management journey flourish.
Arguably the legal profession (like many others) has been through more change in the past 18 months, than in the previous decade. From technology to personnel, and from real estate to working practices, little has remained unscathed.
But how can GCs and law firms harness the power of these changes and use this momentum to create more frictionless change management in the future? We’ve got seven practical best practice techniques below that you can start working on today.
1. Break it down
According to a recent study by Infosys, featured in HBR, successful change management happens when organizations focus on micro-changes rather than mega changes. By breaking your change management project down into much smaller steps, you can change small behaviours and make micro modifications that people are less resistant to (and that create less risk) and that, when accumulated, facilitate bigger organizational change.
2. Give people ownership….
People support what they help to create so get the team involved. And not just your team, but multiple teams who will be affected by any changes. The teams you deal with most – be it IT, finance, sales or R&D need to be part of your process, so they feel engaged, not disenchanted by what’s happening. More people can mean more confusion, but it can also mean more ideas and opportunities for success if you harness them the right way by giving them specific roles.
3. …and give them formal R&R
McKinsey advocates having strong governance and formal roles and responsibilities to make change happen. The consulting firm recommends; an executive steering committee, a change-management officer, executive sponsors, and initiative owners and their teams. You might not need to be this comprehensive, but having specific tasks assigned will create action and drive momentum.
4. Measure and monitor
With micro-changes it’s hard to see when things are happening, that’s why measurement and accountability are vital. It’s not just to keep the momentum going but also to demonstrate to those at a more senior level and those involved that change is occurring successfully. It also means you can celebrate the small wins, boosting morale and proving energy for the next steps.
5. Be agile
We’ve spoken before about how legal could take a leaf from project management’s Agile method. It works – especially when you’re going through short micro changes. As part of an agile approach, HBR says make changes and be prepared to test and learn in a constant cycle, and focus on your vision – even if that changes along the way.
Lawyers are different to other executives, so communicate their way. It might be quick weekly standup meetings, or maybe bulleted emails, but communicate why you’re doing the project and what’s in it for them. Senior lawyers will be impacted differently to legal ops for example, so try to be specific where possible, without detracting from the ultimate shared goal.
7. Don’t get disheartened.
About 70% of change management projects don’t work, according to pre-pandemic research. But the experience we’ve all had more recently, and the knowledge we’ve learned even just through osmosis of being there, is likely to alter this statistic. It’s not easy, there will be casualties and you might not end up where you think you wanted to go, but you will learn something along the way.
We’ve been through the greatest change in a generation – it’s time to use that to good effect and make your next change management journey a success. Because, as John F. Kennedy said: “Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”