So How Big of a Deal is This Change, Anyway?

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During the first few weeks of a new project it is not unusual to hear concerns expressed about how impacted employees can take on more, or refocus their attention or even survive a major change initiative.  Typically these concerns are expressed from an intuitive or empathetic perspective.  Management or team members may not know for a fact that the stresses of change will be challenging, but their first-hand knowledge of their team or unit can typically be right on target.   So the question becomes:  How can the change management team capture the data needed to identify the impact to the people of the organization?

Well, there’s a tool for that!  The People Impact Assessment tool, newly added to the 2nd edition of The Change Management Pocket Guide is an assessment that measures the impact that a change will have on people within an organization.  A well implemented assessment will show how the changes will impact people who work in the organization, identify where within the organization to focus change management activity, contribute to the Change Management Workplan, and ultimately help the team get people in the organization ready, willing, and able to work in new ways.

Dimensions that need to be explored in order to assess the impact of the change on people include:

  • Roles – How will the changes impact primary roles and job tasks?
  • Staffing – Will the size of the workforce be impacted?
  • Relationships – How will the organizational structure change?  Will there be new types of workgroups or interactions?
  • Employee Competencies – Are new skills or knowledge required?
  • Decision Making – Will there be changes in scope and decisions that employees and managers make?
  • Culture – How must the culture change to support new behaviors?

Assessing the people impact of any given change can become a huge effort.  It may require more than a spreadsheet to manage the data and could include several people to help gather the data needed.  And like many change management tools, the people impact assessment will grow and evolve as the project progresses.  New data that surfaces as the project progresses will require updating the assessment.

But, it is worth the effort.  A complete understanding of the impacts of the change on people is really the basis for most of the work that a change manager or change management team does.  If you have limited resources and can only focus on a few change management activities, consider a people impact assessment.  Knowing how people will be impacted and where to focus your time and change management resources will be well worth the effort.

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