Kathy Madison, Comtech Services
November 1, 2021

Whenever I hear the word “change” or “change management,” I always think of David Bowie’s iconic song Changes. I’m not a huge fan of his music, but once you hear the melody of this song, it will stick in your head forever!

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes, (Turn and face the stranger), Ch-ch-Changes,

If only sticking or adopting change at work was that easy. During one of our CIDM managers’ roundtable sessions, folks shared some of their best practices for adopting a change.

First, we reviewed how Comtech’s Information Process Maturity Model measures a mature organization’s change-management processes. Mature organizations have a willingness to constantly evaluate their process and make adjustments to improve productivity or quality. When presented with inefficiencies, new technologies, industry trends, budget cuts, and acquisitions, they easily adapt their culture and processes. Mature organizations consistently adopt these traits:

  • The need for change is explained and justified
  • Timelines for change are well communicated and managed
  • Regular communication channels are established to report status of the change
  • Roles and responsibilities during the change are clearly established
  • Training is conducted as appropriate for team members to adapt to the change

For those participating in the roundtable session, regular communication and explaining the need for change were the traits that seem to resonate most — without it, all plans will fall apart. Team members need to know why they need the change, how they’ll benefit from it, what the changes are, and the impact.

Depending on the complexity of the change, members used a variety of communication techniques to convey the changes, including:

  • Starting with an all-hands meeting and follow-up with one-on-one meetings
  • Starting with one-on-one meetings (key stakeholders and influencers first) and gradually introducing the change before conducting an all-hands meeting. The more individuals feel they had a chance to be heard, the more likely they are to adopt the change.
  • Starting with small team meetings and gradually involving more team members in the change process.

You also might consider the following best practices for your change management strategy:

  • Sending email updates and/or establishing a community message board.
  • Allowing team members to go through a mourning period and prove a channel for them to communicate their concerns and worries.
  • Using an advocate to champion the change message.
  • Finding a common voice so everyone hears and repeats the same message.
  • Pausing periodically to ensure the end goal is still achievable.

The best success for adopting change is when it’s a top-down initiative, though the best ideas often come from the bottom-up. Let’s face it; most technical writers love rules. They tend not to jump on board as easily for grass-root changes that don’t have many rules, but when a change is well defined, with lots of rules, technical writers adopt changes quite eagerly and quickly.

Change always takes much longer than expected. One member reminded us that change is always happening and said:

“It’s important to encourage team members to feel comfortable with constant change and to train them on how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable with change.”

I think Albert Einstein sums it up perfectly:

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change”