A few weeks ago I found myself back in the classroom for my daughter, Madeline’s pre-school orientation. As I sat through the handbook orientation, I began to notice a plethora of overly excited parents, nervous children clinging to their parents’ legs, and enthusiastic teachers ready for the year to begin.
I looked over at Madeline confidently playing in the dress-up area as she sported overly large plastic high heels, a gaudy fake jeweled necklace and a fluffy pink “princess” dress. Madeline was at-ease and ready to begin pre-school. It was in this moment that I realized that preparing a child for their first day of preschool is much like managing change in an organization. (Yes, this was the Human Resource Manager coming out in me)!
Preparing a child for their first day of preschool
is much like managing change in an organization.
Define the End Goal
Much like managing change in an organization, the first step in preparing a preschooler for their first day is to clearly explain what the goal is and what will happen. I helped Madeline to understand I wanted her to have fun, to meet new friends and learn new things. When beginning a change effort in an organization, it’s essential to understand and define the business intent. Employees need to know exactly what the goal or business intent of the change effort is. When creating the change, you should be looking at how to foster an environment where employees can embrace they change rather than telling them the new policy.
In every change, there are going to be numerous parties that will be impacted. Some employees will be deeply impacted while other employees will hardly notice the change has taken place. As a change leader, you must have a plan developed to address the various needs of each group to gain their support for the change. Prior to preschool beginning, my husband and I discussed how the “stakeholders” in our family would be impacted. Jack, our 6 month old son would have to take a slightly later morning nap to accommodate dropping Madeline off at school. On occasion my husband will have to take time off of work to attend a school function. The largest stakeholder would be Madeline who was transitioning from a summer with little structure to a classroom. All of the issues were addressed and a plan was communicated to each “stakeholder”. Okay, so we didn’t technically communicate it to the infant, but you get the point! Address all of the stakeholders needs to make them feel important and a part of the change.
Gauge Organizational Readiness
It’s important for a change leader to be able to assess the organization’s readiness for the change. To create an analysis you should gather information in the following areas:
- Employees understanding the reason for the change and/or understanding of the business goal.
- If the key employees are in agreement about the importance of the specific change effort.
- Leadership’s ability to communicate the vision/purpose of the change.
- Availability to communicate with employees to gather feedback, suggestions and concerns.
Develop a Plan
After the research has been completed and data gathered, it’s time to create a strategic implementation plan. The plan should include:
Business goal/intent, the stakeholder and organizational readiness analysis, implementation steps, a means for evaluating the effectiveness of the change effort and a communication plan
This list is not by any means all inclusive, but it does provide the basics of managing an effective change process. Perhaps one of the more important parts of managing change is to celebrate the milestones and small victories along the way. First day of preschool was a huge milestone… deserving of a celebratory ice cream cone. Yes, I think so!