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Change Management is the Star; Training is its Lead Supporting Actor!

Change Management is about supporting, preparing, and helping teams and individuals adopt change successfully. It should focus on people by addressing their communication, training, and guidance needs. Training shouldn’t be an afterthought. From the get-go, it must be an integral part of the Change Management planning process. Bright Affect said it perfectly in a recent article. “If Change Management is the star of the show, training is its lead supporting actor. Together, they make a blockbuster that breaks box-office records.”


The Importance of a Change Management Strategy 

A Change Management strategy is important to provide direction and purpose for all related activities and define the approach needed to manage change given the project's unique situation. 

I work with one of Ardent’s retail clients and am an Instructional Designer on the Change Management team. Here is a statement that we share with stakeholders of the business. A Change Management strategy guides the organization through implementing and monitoring changes, focused on the people side of change. By minimizing risks and enabling individuals to adopt changes, desired outcomes and return on investment (ROI) can be achieved.

This strategy focuses on four areas: 

  • Leadership
    • Establish active and visible sponsorship
    • Establish a strong change coalition that provides business insight and champions the initiative 
    • Consult on governance, ensuring clear decision-makers
  • Communication
    • Deliver consistent and meaningful communication to build awareness and desire for the change 
  • Learning
    • Build knowledge and proficiency through effective learning experiences 
  • Measurement
    • Define change success metrics and track results


Training Plan and Strategy

Some high-level objectives when planning for change and training include structuring the training by module and function for the most relatable content. Drive knowledge through hands-on training (labs and office hours) and provide learner participant materials. It is ideal to introduce foundational training before go-live and focus on upskilling the subject matter expert (SME) groups to support the process and system. In addition, deliver proficiency surveys to ensure completion and measure adoption and preparedness. Provide facilitator preparation meetings and facilitator guides for all training sessions.


Sample Change Management Communication Plan

Below I have provided a sample plan that includes how each project phase relates to the focus areas described in the section above, specifically communication, learning, and measurement.




Roles and Responsibilities of SMEs 

It’s important to define the roles and responsibilities of SMEs, which can be broken down into three main areas: communication, solution development, and implementation.  

Let’s start with communication. Here are some essential tasks:

  • Create channels of communication between the project team, functional area, and leadership 
  • Attend all Working Committee meetings and workshops 
  • Share Kick-Off Message with all functions 
  • Provide Roadshow connects in team meetings


Next up is the solution development plan and tasks: 

  • Voice of the Brand
    • Articulate areas of point of view (POV)
    • Validate business processes, requirements, and deliverables for user acceptance testing (UAT) 
  • Maintain current working knowledge of tools 
  • Provide user insight on documentation 
  • Develop process mapping reviews and revisions  
  • Create training learning objectives and gain SME alignment 


And finally, implementation tasks: 

  • Participate in and influence UAT 
  • Support the delivery of training 
  • Enable engagement and facilitate adoption and sustainability 
  • Identify adoption risk and communicate to the project team 
  • Consult in scenarios and scripts, or leverage process documents 
  • Provide feedback on the timing and objectives of the training materials


Change Champions for the Win 

In addition to SMEs, we also want to leverage the use of Change Champions a network of individuals who bring thought leadership and influence to drive change adoption across the impacted organization.


Thought Leadership


Advocates for Change


Listens and Communicates


This approach​ involves individuals at varying levels across functional areas that the change will impact​. We must maintain active involvement in advising and executing change plans (i.e., messengers of change). And we want to coach individuals through a push and pull engagement model​. Their desired outcomes include:  

  • Team members are aware of the change ​ 
  • Team members participate in the change​ 
  • Risks are identified and mitigated


Training Shouldn’t be an Afterthought 

Change is HARD! But it’s a bit easier coming from someone people trust. Those internal Change Champions you desperately need on your side to break down the barriers of resistance and create a team culture of adoption and advocacy might never see the actual value without training. 

Remember, training shouldn’t be an afterthought. From the get-go, it must be an integral part of the Change Management planning process. Because without training, gaining that all-important stakeholder buy-in essential to making your Change Management program successful will probably be a long, bumpy, and winding road. Maybe even impassable.


If you want to connect with an Ardent expert on your Change Management needs, reach out today.


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