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 2 of 9: Fear

Dislike of change has its roots in fear. Change management fear is increased when the stakeholder or customer has been exposed to a history of poor delivery. It doesn’t have to be your organization’s poor delivery history to instill fear, but it is worse if it is. When a history of poor delivery exists, be prepared to spend additional time with stakeholders to show and convince them how this time is different and how you are prepared to ensure the success of the project and acceptance of the change.

Change management fear is increased when your team members have suffered through poor leadership and/or constantly changing direction. Additionally, change management fear is increased when they don’t know you or their processes, meaning they don’t fully understand their current situation, including process history, current processes, and future processes.
There are three steps for dealing with stakeholders’ change management fear.

Step 1 is to methodically analyze their fear. Examine all the potential fears they may have so that they can be addressed.

Step 2 is to develop strategies to overcome each fear identified in step 1. Keep in mind that fear and therefore strategies may be different for each stakeholder on the same project. Address each stakeholder’s fear individually when necessary.

Step 3 consists of continual reassurance and communication. Dealing with fear involves more than one action, and most stakeholders are best served with continual reassurance. You must address the fear throughout the program management life cycle.

Stakeholders should know (1) how their fears will be addressed, (2) who will address them, and (3) when they will be addressed. Address their fears gracefully, not mechanically. Even though fear is real, people don’t like to be thought of as fearful, and so you must walk a fine line when assuring stakeholders.

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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