Change management is a responsibility of the program manager. It is a role that is underappreciated, underutilized, and not performed well by some program managers. Change management is complex, and there is no cookbook recipe to apply.

Our 9 part Guide to Change Management will focus on how to prepare the customer, stakeholders, and team for change.

Part 1 of 9: Change Management-What Is It?
Part 2 of 9: Fear
Part 3 of 9: Change Models
Part 4 of 9: Change Management – Evidentiary Strategy
Part 5 of 9: Change Management – Vision, Goals, and Objectives Strategy
Part 6 of 9: Change Management – Segmentation Strategy
Part 7 of 9: Communication
Part 8 of 9: Training
Part 9 of 9: Mentors

Part 7 of 9: Change Management Communication

Listening is a big part of change management communication. You will encounter stakeholders who do not like the changes resulting from the project and want to express their displeasure to you in hope that you will be able to resolve their issue. You may be able to fix their problem, but you also may not. In either case, it is very important that you listen. Even if you can’t fix it, listen without interrupting. Listen with tremendous patience.

Consider one of the sayings from the ancient book The Teachings of Ptahhotep:

If you are a person who judges, listen carefully to the speech of one who pleads. Don’t stop the person from telling you everything that they had planned to tell you. A person in distress wants to pour out his or her heart, even more than they want their case to be won. If you are one who stops the person from pleading, that person will say “why does he reject my plea?” Of course not all that one pleads for can be granted, but a good hearing soothes the heart. The means for getting a true and clear explanation is to listen with kindness.

The ability to facilitate groups in producing outcomes and decisions that they buy into is a valuable skill that supports the change management communication process. Facilitation is simply a structured way to extract information that produces a desired outcome. It is an aspect of change management communication. Facilitators can be especially helpful if emotion is high, there are differing opinions about issues or processes, or the group is large. The cost of a professional facilitator is low considering what is at stake if there is a poor outcome and also if you consider the time of all the participants who may be involved in the meeting.

When you are implementing change, it is important to be persistent. Don’t expect everyone to accept the change right away. Change must be championed persistently. In examining your stakeholders, identify the biggest opponents of change. Experience has taught me that it is often the biggest opponents of the change who turn into the biggest supporters. Once you convince the biggest opponent, you are on your way because others will follow. The biggest opponent is not always the most powerful. Sometimes it may be the most vocal person or the person who wields the most influence through informal or social networks in the organization. Thus, it’s best to have a strategy for the biggest opponents of the change.

Once your team has decided on their plan and process, PPM software can help you execute that process. WorkOtter helps you successfully execute your program process strategy for project success. Get a demo of WorkOtter and see how we can make your program management effective.

“The Handbook of Program Management: How to Facilitate Project Success with Optimal Program Management, Second Edition” by James T. Brown is a copyrighted work of McGraw-Hill and McGraw-Hill reserves all rights in and to the Content. ©2014 by McGraw-Hill Education. Purchase the book on Amazon.

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