How metals leaders can back organizational change management

Andrew O. Callaghan, Jordan Wicks
| 7/21/2022
How metals leaders can back organizational change management

Today’s business world is rapidly changing. Companies and customers are continuously facing new capabilities and expectations, and finding ways to adapt is key. At times, these transformations are met with enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. But sometimes change can be overwhelming, causing hesitation, resistance, and pushback.

While metals is a global industry with a long history and firm foundation, it sometimes is perceived as slow to adapt to change. But technological advances and innovation are inevitable, and metals leaders will need to keep evolving in the digital-first metals revolution known as Metals 4.0 in order to stay ahead of the competition.

So, the challenge for metals leaders becomes navigating organizational change in a way that secures the future success of their business and teams.

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What is organizational change management, and why is it important?

Organizational change management is focused on managing the people component of a transition or transformation of business objectives, organizational processes, core values, or technologies.

It is a way to structure change throughout the life of a project, an opportunity for leaders to be empowered to support and motivate their teams, and a chance to establish change competency within an organization. Change management is not something that happens as a one-time implementation event; nor is it a one-size-fits-all solution. Successfully administering true change takes an ongoing process that involves support and engagement from the entire organization.

Organizational change management can have a substantial impact on project success. Prosci, a leader in the change management space for more than 20 years, published “Best Practices in Change Management” research, which found that projects are:

  • Six times more likely to meet objectives with excellent change management than with poor change management
  • 73% more likely to meet objectives with an extremely effective leader than with a very ineffective leader

Prosci also performed research into the correlation between change management and project success and found that projects are:

  • Five times more likely to stay on schedule when using change management than projects that do not
  • Two times more likely to stay on budget with effective change management than projects with poor change management

5 steps to successfully implement organizational change management

Having a metals-specific tool that is agile enough to change as the business changes is critical to a successful future in the metals industry. But when looking to implement new technologies, processes, or objectives, leaders need to manage these changes in a way that empowers people to be at the center of it all.

The people who adopt new technologies, and their willingness and ability to adapt, are arguably the most important elements of implementing any innovation for a business.

Here are five steps organizations should take during a transformation and how the workforce is essential to each:

1. Define the change

Clearly defining and understanding the scope and purpose of the change is a critical first step to gaining buy-in from an organization’s leaders.

Without top-down enthusiasm for future goals and the process the organization will take to achieve them, any large-scale change is more likely to fail.

Whether it’s CEOs or project managers, leaders should see themselves as the communicators, liaisons, and advocates for change among their teams. They should be ready and able to clearly communicate the scope of the change and provide structure to sustain the main objectives.

2. Determine the strategy

Because the changes being implemented are unique to every organization, one-size-fits-all approaches won’t be effective. For example, the impact on a metals business of relocating office space is much different from the impact of choosing to implement an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution.

Once leadership decides on the path forward, it is time to analyze and customize a plan based on the organization’s culture and preferences as well as the direction chosen. Identifying processes, roles, and constraints (such as technological gaps) is important to the organizational mission. Leaders should consider who will be affected along the way. This is an opportunity to outline key messages and align timelines.

3. Inform the organization

Once leadership has outlined the plan, it’s time to broadly share it with everyone involved and begin making adjustments where needed. How and when to communicate are just as important as the message being shared. Leaders must feel well equipped to deliver the message and should work with a dedicated resource team to help train teammates on new technologies and processes.

This is also the time for leaders to watch for signs of resistance and address those based on the informed strategy. If some team members are hesitant to work with new technology, use the opportunity to assess, train, or adjust accordingly.

4. Prepare for the future

Change can cause uneasiness, but with the right coaching and belief in the system, the benefits can outweigh the resistance. Prosci discovered that 80% to 100% of project benefits depend on people involved in a transition buying into organizational change management and changing the way they work.

After determining where the hesitations lie, an organization can use a network of change champions within the organization to continue to discuss, embrace, and sustain the change among colleagues. Using such champions allows an organization to take the message down to the floor level and to gauge a team’s readiness through informal conversations and preparation assessments.

5. Make the change

Once the pieces are in place to make the transition, leaders should remain in constant communication with their teams. This is an opportunity for leadership to reinforce the change and commend teammates for jobs well done.

When implementing a new ERP system, it is critical for the designated change management leader to celebrate team wins, reinforce strategic concepts, and perform one-on-one check-ins with team members to provide full support. Leadership buy-in is key to communicating clear expectations, boosting morale of the team, and implementing a successful project or system.

Lead organizational change management with an experienced guide

Metals leaders can look to an experienced organizational change management guide that understands both the implementation and technical needs of a modern system.

Crowe specializes not only in the implementation of innovative ERP systems that are revolutionizing the metals industry but also in coaching businesses through effective change management. As organizations roll out new technology across the company, Crowe can help establish milestones, coach leaders and others through the ERP methodology, and support a positive change mindset.

Connect with the Crowe metals team today to learn more about how metals leaders can champion organizational change management and successfully launch their teams and businesses forward in the age of digital transformation.

Contact us

Andrew Callaghan
Andrew O. Callaghan
Managing Principal, Metals
Jordan Wicks
Jordan Wicks