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Cultivating a Thriving Change Management Team

By Karan Froom, Director, Organizational Change Management and Training, Cardinal Health

Karan Froom, Director, Organizational Change Management and Training, Cardinal Health

Spring is a time of new beginnings and a time when many people start gardening. Change management leaders can take some lessons from their gardening book when planning a strong organizational change team for a project or when starting up a new department. Here’s five tips to ensure your new team will thrive and grow.

1. Tend the soil – Every successful garden starts with the right soil, just like every great team starts with a strong foundation. Take the time to identify and evaluate the skills and talents needed on your team based on the assigned work or projects. In the change management profession, many people have experience in one or more of these disciplines: leadership coaching, corporate communications, training and development, process engineering, and/or human resources.  Spend time assessing your project or overall department goals to determine the skills needed for the team and fill the gaps accordingly.  For example, a technology implementation that impacts all end users in the same way may primarily require people with strong communications and training backgrounds whereas a project or initiative that is fundamentally changing the way a business operates may require more process engineering and human resources team members to support it.

"Change management leaders can take some lessons from their gardening book when planning a strong organizational change team for a project or when starting up a new department"

2. Plant the seeds – Ideally, it’s great to hand pick your team, just like you do the fruit and vegetables you choose to plant in your garden. But what happens if you inherit a team, or it’s comprised of consultants from one or more companies who were already assigned to the team? Invest the time to learn each person’s background and identify the change management disciplines they consider their strengths. Wherever possible, allow team members to leverage those key strengths with the work they are assigned. Establish team norms to remove any barriers that exist between potentially competing consulting companies and/or employees versus contractors. Lastly, by investing time early to orient the team to the work, the culture and norms will reap many rewards once the things become busier.

3. Water and grow – Just as plants die without water, your team will not thrive without development. Allow your team members to take on new tasks in order to get exposure to additional skills. For example, if they haven’t developed a training program before, ask them to try their hand at creating a job aid for a new process or give them a process to map as a stretch assignment. Fostering a well-rounded skill set on your team will make future projects more smooth and agile. Also, open tasks up to volunteers on your team instead of just assigning things. It may be surprising to see someone raise their hand for an assignment you may not have considered them for, yet they are excited to take on.

4. Provide ample sunlight – Don’t forget to recognize strengths of your team members and praise them along the way. So often, change management professionals work primarily behind the scenes and may not always be given credit or recognition for the hard work they do. Be sure to find the time to recognize and reward your team for the effort they put into their tasks and highlight their accomplishments to senior leaders on the project or in the chain of command. Don’t forget to find time for fun and teambuilding along the way, spending time outside of work is a great way to get to know each other and build strong bonds within the group.

5. Harvest the rewards – When you take time to grow and foster a strong change management team, you will be rewarded with satisfied end users and skilled change resources who will thrive in future projects or roles. Even if you don’t have a full time change management team, by growing this skill set in your organization, you will build bench strength for future initiatives and will rely less on bringing in outside talent to fill those positions.

All good gardens take time and tending, sunlight and water and a positive outlook. Apply those skills to your team and you will reap the rewards for years to come!

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