If you are on any level of management or executive position in an organization you certainly know how managing through change can be stressful and difficult. However, preparing for the change can mitigate the negative sides of a change to a large degree. And change management training is exactly what you and your employees need to prepare yourself for the change in order to lower the levels of stress and frustration while going through the change process.

As we stated in the Change Management Overview article, change management is a systematic approach in dealing with change in order to change happens as expected and to add value to an organization. Change management training is a vital piece of the puzzle that ensures the success of the whole process.

Organizational change takes place on many levels in an organization. Individual-level is of great importance and managers must ensure that everyone involved in the process is well informed and trained for the change that is ahead. Of course, they need to be prepared the most.

In this article, you can find useful things about training for change, such as:

  • How to specify change training needs
  • What change management training should include
  • What to consider when it comes to training employees for change

…and much more.

Specifying Change Training Needs

Change management training needs - puzzle
Each employee should receive timely and appropriate training.

It is not too much if we say again that training is a cornerstone of change management. Change, or transition from the current state to the desired state, impacts people from various departments and levels in the organization. So, everyone who is affected by the change in any way should learn adaptable and buildable skills. 

Each employee should receive timely and appropriate training. Training requirements based on the employees’ skills, behaviors, and knowledge that are necessary to implement the change successfully should be specified before the change process even begins. 

Change training needs will be versatile in many ways. For example, some employees will need just awareness training, some of them will need to learn new ways of reporting and some would have to gain new technical skills. 

The tool you can use to complete this task and to generate training requirements for the change ahead is a training need analysis. That is a diagnostic tool in the form of a survey. It should focus on the staff and their skills which are necessary to effectively deliver the change. Also, the analysis should focus on managers and supervisors and their training needs so they can communicate and manage the change successfully.

Training need analysis has two major points, as change itself has. And that would be:

  • A – Where are we now (current level of the employees’ knowledge, skills, and behaviors)
  • B – Where we want to be (desired level of employees’ knowledge, skills, and behaviors)

Of course, here it all just begins. Between these two points, you must find answers on many questions, such as: what kind of training is needed and in which part of the organization; who needs it; how particular training will be provided and of course, how much it will cost. So, the big question standing between two major points of training need analysis is – How are we going to get from point A to point B.

For more support and training visit the Accordemy Change management course.

Change Management Training

Of course, the success of the whole process depends on managers to a large degree. In Best Practices in Change Management – 2018 Edition, 84% of participants of survey ranked manager and supervisor involvement in the change process as “extremely important” or “very important” to the success of the project.

Managers’ needs for training can be versatile too. Various needs imply different change management training that is supportive and helps managers to be more effective during the change process. In this article, we are focusing on so-called soft skills or productive personality traits that are necessary, besides specific technical skills, for the change process to be successful.

In general, managers should be aware of the nature of change, should be trained on how to deliver the change message to employees and their team, and how to gather feedback from employees and use this input to influence change.

Understanding Change

Change is constant and will always occur, and understanding it on an individual level can help one relate it to an organizational level. It is important for managers to understand change, as it affects many facets of an organization. Its effect on the individual is of great importance. That is the case because it will filter through and influence all levels of the organization. 

Managers should distinguish two primary forces that drive change:

  • External driving forces
  • Internal driving forces

No organization is isolated from the rest of the world and external forces are always influencing and interacting with its existence. Individuals and organizations may have very little ability to influence such external factors such as politics, culture, customer preferences, suppliers or competitors moves, changes in regulations, or technology. These are changes that we usually don’t choose; sometimes they come quickly and impact hard and sometimes they come steadily and slowly. 

Having in mind that we don’t have much of the control over external driving forces of the change, it is important to accept the change, and then modify any internal processes or items that are affected by the external factors. 

Of course, you have more control over the internal factors of changes. Examples can be numerous, such as  – the organization needs to be restructured, a new executive is hired, a new product is introduced or a new policy is rolled out. Have in mind that even the smallest change can encounter some questions, cautiousness and push back. 

Change can create fear and uncertainty and it is important to understand these influences and to prepare for them when they happen.

Communicating Change

Effective communication training as part of change management - talk bubble
Effective communication is essential for building support throughout the organization.

Effective communication is essential for building support throughout the organization for the process ahead. Managers in the role of communicators of the change must have a clear understanding of the overall nature of the change, its reasons, and how it aligns with the vision for the organization. The person communicating change to people who are affected by it must understand the risks of not changing, the timing for the change and what people will be most impacted by the change.

There are many communications channels and forms. They include email, presentations, postings on the organization’s intranet, flyers and circulars, banners, online or phone conferences, and special social events.

Beforehand, communicators should identify and segment audience groups, craft messages appropriate for each audience, and determine the most effective channel, timing, and methods for communicating.

It is important to keep the lines of communication open before, during and after the change as on the fly changes may be needed. This will help with any unforeseen events that occur during the change. It will also help to learn for the event which should make future changes occur even smoother.

Always be available during the change process. Reassure your team that you are there for them and you are here to provide them with the necessary resources to lead them through the change. Stress to them that you are available and focused on keeping the communications lines open.

Always be aware of rumors, they will happen before, during and after the change. Do not ignore any rumor and put out honest and clear communication as soon as possible. Reassure your team that if they hear a rumor to seek out more information from a reliable source. 

Provide facts and data to show why the change is happening and assure people of the need and benefits of the change.

If you are encountering an extreme case of pushback, provide them with some choices that still fall within the spectrum of the intended change. They should then feel more involved in the process and it will help alleviate the negative mindset they may be experiencing.

Also, managers should be clear with praises too. Publicize rewards and recognition for positive approaches and accomplishments and celebrate every small win publicly.

Gathering Feedback and Adapting

Change management training in gathering feedback - employees, talk bubbles
Use feedback to shape the remaining course of the change project.

Change management team members must constantly be observing, listening, and evaluating the progress and process during a change. 

A feedback form is important to use. Use it to gather information from those involved in a change to help shape the remaining course of the change project. Instead of a paper form, feedback can be obtained through online surveys (Zoomerang.com or SurveyMonkey.com), an in-house questionnaire on the intranet, a few questions sent by email, or a focus group. Prepare good questions depending on the subject of the query. 

Always encourage the freedom to speak up about the ongoing process. Include sentences such as –

Please feel free to share your suggestions and comments.

The change management team will use the compiled results of the feedback forms to modify the project plan. They can also adjust the communication plan and plan how to work with specific individuals or groups that may be providing roadblocks to success.

Training Employees for Change

When employees are aware of and understand the organizational environment they are more motivated and engaged in achieving set goals. The same principle implies, maybe more than ever when it comes to a change process.

The organization should offer induction training for everyone involved in the process that is ahead and for everyone who is going to be affected by the change. Employees that are aware of vision, values, and strategies that are related to oncoming change are more likely to perceive the change as an opportunity rather than the enemy. 

Managers should take the role of a coach and support employees through the process of change they experience when projects and initiatives impact their day-to-day work. Also, they should schedule practical skill-building sessions. A great tool in gathering the necessary information for this task is the tool we already talked about in the session – specifying change training needs, the training needs analysis.

Budgeting the necessary resources for employees’ training needs is the next managers’ task. You should consider the format of training with which you would fulfill the employees’ change training needs. You can go with various forms of training depending on the needs and the available budget, such as:

  • Internal seminars which cost include handouts, equipment, rentals fees and trainer time. 
  • External seminars, consider costs such as –  travel costs, lodging and registration fees. Long term planning is necessary for this form of training and employees must leave their work for a particular time which is a cost on its own. 
  • Online seminars can be accessed online or through mobile devices anywhere and at any time of the day. In that way, the company can save on the logistical costs. Also,  employees can participate in the training program without having to worry about accumulated or delayed work.

In the end, it is important to say that statistics are grim when it comes to the success of change in organizations of all sizes. Even 60-70% of all changes fail! There are many reasons for this among which are uncertainty, resistance and lack of skills and knowledge. Implementing change successfully requires preparation on many levels through planning, education, and training. So we can conclude what is the main benefit of change management training: 

Change management training increases your chances of success!

For more support and training visit the Accordemy Change management course.

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