HomeFuture of WorkBusiness TransformationMinimizing risk, maximizing ROI: The most valuable change management strategies

Minimizing risk, maximizing ROI: The most valuable change management strategies

  • 5 Min Read

Change management expert Melanie Franklin shares the contents of three valuable change management strategies to mitigate risk, alleviate uncertainty, and deliver successful change implementation

Featured Image
Melanie Franklin headshot for article: Minimizing risk, maximizing ROI: The most valuable change management strategies

Change management strategies matter because poorly executed change is a significant risk to the business. Aside from the obvious financial risk of failed return on investment, there are people risks caused by the stress of too many uncoordinated initiatives, the cognitive overload from constantly learning new ways of working, and the risk of poor performance.

If we are to minimize risk and maximize return, we must be smart. We must decide how best to approach the disruptive forces of change. We should be clear about our objectives and the procedures, techniques, and measures of success we will apply.

Contents of change management strategies

Change management strategies comprise two elements:

  1. Why are we making this change? The external and internal factors that justify the need for change and define the benefits the successful implementation will realize.
  2. How? The decisions on the smartest way to achieve the change.

To provide quality answers, we need to think through a range of potential outcomes, good and bad, including:

  • What if our change doesn’t deliver the desired results?
  • What if stakeholders reject what we do?
  • What if we don’t have the resources we need?
  • What other initiatives are these results dependent upon?
  • What factors will prevent progress and desired results?
  • Do we have the skills needed to deliver the change?
  • Do we have the skills to work in the new way?

Most valuable change management strategies

Stakeholder engagement strategy

A stakeholder is anyone who is impacted by the change or has an interest in its success. This strategy must address:

  1. Those whose participation will define, create, and implement the change.
  2. Those who will have to adopt the new ways of working.

Effectively, our stakeholders are all those working on the change and all those working in the change. This needs careful planning as there is no natural collaboration between them. Those responsible for achieving the change are motivated by disrupting current ways of working. Those who must work in new ways are motivated to maintain the status quo because this is where they are skilled and experienced.

This strategy has gone further than communication because the objective is to create willing involvement and personal responsibility for realizing the benefits of the change.

This is essential for change initiatives for two reasons:

  1. Change brings together a diverse range of contributors, in a loose network structure. This structure is subject to frequent change as stakeholders become more or less vital to the initiative as the change evolves.
  2. Change is a personal decision, which we can positively influence. But we do not have the hierarchical power to compel others to work in new ways. Even if we did, sustainable change requires their motivation, not blind pursuit of instructions from senior leaders.

The Resourcing strategy needs to address who is involved and how they will interact with each other, including:

  • How we distribute the work among them
  • How we take decisions
  • How we address risks and issues
  • How we check the quality of their work
  • How we track and report progress

Reward Strategy

This strategy identifies the celebrations and rewards that reinforce the achievements of staff implementing and adopting change. We must identify these rewards in advance. This ensures there are sufficient resources to provide the rewards and that they adhere to the HR policies of our organization.

Rewards are an essential element of motivation. They encourage people to repeat behaviors through positive encouragement of their actions.

Resilience strategy

Resilience is the ability to keep going despite obstacles and setbacks.

We should look ahead and identify the situations that will have the most obstacles and therefore are most likely to cause us to give up. We should proactively identify these before we start work to encourage everyone to decide what structural, emotional, and collaborative support they would need in these circumstances.

Creating a resilience strategy means that we don’t leave resilience to chance. We don’t just hope that everyone will be able to cope. It enables us to be more deliberate if we want to help our stakeholders keep going and overcome the pressures of change.

Benefits of a change strategy

Strategies capture our approach to how we are going to achieve our objectives. They set out the system or scheme we will follow. Other phrases we can use include “game plan” and “course of action.”

Change creates uncertainty, which leads to anxiety and stress. Strategies are particularly important in change situations because they ensure we are intentional about our actions, and that we identify, agree, and create the support we need for how we are going to work. This builds an environment of stability and certainty. We are identifying in advance what we will do if certain situations arise.

Strategies are a quick way to understand what should be happening. They can act as a rapid onboarding tool, summarizing the style and method of work without getting lost in the detail of the tasks and who is performing them.

I was keen to write this article because, after more than 30 years of leading transformational change, I have formed the view that we don’t do enough strategizing. Too often we jump right in with a tactical plan when our time would have been better spent defining our approach, before identifying all the tasks and activities we need to complete.

Without a strategy, our planning focuses on getting things done and making progress, but without considering how best to achieve that progress. Strategies prevent us from being “busy fools”, having considered if our initial decisions are the right ones.

Was this article helpful?

Subscribe to get your daily business insights


HRD Roundtable: Combating 'Quiet Quitting'…

08 June 2023
  • E-Book
  • 1y

HRD Network Roundtable: The Retention…

15 June 2023
  • E-Book
  • 1y

Manage change and drive value…

01 June 2023
  • E-Book
  • 1y
Sign up to our Newsletter