A substantial organizational change is full of hazards that can trip you up, or potentially bring your initiative to a screeching halt. In this video, Bob McGannon takes you through the importance of understanding risk and issue management. Learn to handle risks such as problems with buy-in from your stakeholders, the departure of key individuals from your business and organizational readiness problems. In addition, understand how to react and address issues to minimize their impact.
- A substantial organizational change is full of hazards that can trip you up or potentially bring your initiative to a screeching halt. As a result, it's important that you spend some time focusing on risk and issue management. First, let's discuss the simple difference between a risk and an issue. A risk is something that may occur, but hasn't yet impacted your change initiative. So you can proactively try to manage risks.
Issues, on the other hand, are things that have occurred and are having an impact on your change progress right now. So you need to react to an issue immediately to address concerns. Let's focus a bit more on risks, since good management of risks can keep issues from occurring. Good change managers work with their management and team members to ensure risks do not evolve into issues. A best practice is to spend time brainstorming the potential risks that could impact your progress and planning mitigation activities to address those risks.
Every change initiative is different, and as a result, so are the potential risks. However, there are common categories for risks in a change initiative that I urge you to consider. First, there could be problems with buy-in from your stakeholders. A good risk mitigation strategy is to analyze your most influential stakeholders and consider how to increase their chances of accepting your changes. That approach addresses the probability of the buy-in risk.
Many change managers stop there and don't think through the mitigation actions that can reduce the impact if you do not get buy-in. Pre-determined actions by management or concentrating on alternate stakeholders who can influence a given business area are good impact reduction actions to consider. The second major risk area to examine is the departure of key individuals from your business. This risk can have multiple impacts. First, the departure could send a signal to others that your changes aren't a good idea, so people are leaving to avoid the upcoming dramas.
Second, the departing stakeholders could be pivotal in helping you design and embed the changes you're making. Mitigation actions to inform and support others that could take the place of departing staff members are typically put in place to address the personnel departure risks. Another significant risk area that can plague change initiatives is organizational readiness problems. Despite your best efforts, other business dynamics such as changes in the competitive or regulatory landscape or personnel can mean your organization is simply not ready to implement a change when planned.
The primary mitigation action to address this is to perform a readiness assessment. This is a skills assessment. It examines the overall degree of change that's happening in your business and the degree of collaboration between departments where change will be substantial. Collaboration can be very important since change often brings unexpected outcomes. Effective collaboration between teams is often the best way to address these issues. Before I close this segment, let's go back to issues for a moment.
As a change manager, it's important you react and address issues to minimize their impact on your efforts. However, you don't need to directly own the resolution of every issue. An effective technique is to assign issue resolution to informed team members, and you can then track the progress they make at resolving issues. Risk and issue management can be time consuming and trigger emotions at what might be an already emotional time. Resist the urge to give into those emotions and guide your team and management through a disciplined risk and issue management exercise.
You'll be glad you did.
- Understanding the levels of change management
- Working through the five phases of change management
- Creating a change plan
- Communicating change
- Implementing change
- Managing risk
- Reinforcing change
- Evaluating the change
- Guiding individuals through change