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Change management for NFPs

It can be hard and “downright painful.”

Let’s face it, change can be hard and downright painful.  It can be difficult getting people to move out of their comfort zone, especially in the workplace.  We’re creatures of habit by nature and although change is necessary from time to time it can throw people into absolute turmoil and bring out behaviours not normally seen.  But, with right mindset and ‘toolkit’ to manage change there can be effective and rewarding outcomes for all involved.

So how do we define change? Change management is the process, tools and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve a required business outcome. (Prosci Change Management Methodology)

The goal of change is to improve an organisation by changing the way work is performed. Change management support is imperative across the duration of the project to allow an organisation to transition from the current state, through to the desired future state.

“Projects are six times more likely to meet the objectives and budget when organisations managed the people side of change effectively. (Best Practices in Change Management – 2014 ed.)

Staff can react to change differently throughout the duration of the project, and each stage must be managed effectively.

How Staff May React to Change

Change Management Approach and Methodology

For a NFP, the need to manage the competing demands from various stakeholders, coupled with a highly-agile and committed workforce can often slow down the project.  To identify the potential obstacles and manage change proactively you first need to understand ‘who’ the stakeholders are and how to mitigate change management issues.  A strategy to identify stakeholders and their interest and influence in a project and hence change, is to develop a Stakeholder Matrix during the initiation phase of the project.

Once the Stakeholders have been plotted in a quadrant, the next step is to develop a Stakeholder Communication table to identify ‘how’ to communicate to Stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle. Stakeholders that fall in the ‘high’ interest and ‘high’ influence quadrant will require regular communication.   Stakeholders in the ‘low’ interest and ‘low’ influence will require minimal communication.  Using this technique at the onset of the project will enable the Change Manager (or sometimes the Project Manager) to mitigate the risk for Change to become stuck in the ‘unmanageable’ curve for too long.

Another strategy to effectively manage change is to develop a Benefits Map.  Stakeholders must understand ‘what’s in it for me’ in terms of benefits to accept change more readily.  The ‘benefits’ should be iterated over and over to Stakeholders so they understand why the ‘short-term pain’ will lead to their ‘long-term gain’.

Effective change management for a NFP change ensures staff and volunteers transition and reach acceptance quickly and smoothly while continuing to deliver essential services to clients.  The Change Management lifecycle stems across the entire project and should always be taken seriously.  Emotions can quickly turn into anarchy situations which is difficult to salvage.  However, by being one step ahead of your Stakeholders and listening and communicating regularly, change can certainly bring long term and positive outcomes to the organisation.

Donna Orchard, Director and Founder – Orchard Consulting Group.

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