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Getting Started with Change Management

  • 7 December 2023
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Whenever we are in a position of having to “influence and adapt” someone’s behavior, you are in the business of practicing Change Management techniques, especially when it comes to doing it professionally in your team, department, or organization. There’s usually a need to alter the status quo, a vision and a sponsor, a strategy to inform the rest of the affected people and train them to perform at their best abilities in the new expected “way of working”, while fostering a climate where they could thrive and achieve milestone after milestone.

 

So what is Change Management? Most of the time it’s used as a buzzword to describe an indefinite set of actions and processes that, together, should create the perfect recipe for success. How I see it, it is the simplest way to lead, in a human-first manner, a group of people from scenario A to B. So let’s set our scenarios: 

  • Scenario A is when, for example, you are working as a CS Lead or a CS Ops Lead for your SaaS company, which has just signed a contract with Gainsight as their brand new CS vendor.
  • Scenario B is where you, your team, and your company would like to be in 1 year time: utilizing your new CS platform in an efficient and scalable way, leveraging the technology to achieve each individual, team, and department KPI, like higher NRR, higher ARR/CSM ratio, higher expansion velocity on existing customers, higher NPS scores.

 

How do you go from scenario A to B? It all starts with strong foundations of a Change Management strategy. This strategy should be in place from the beginning as it contains the pillars of the new ways of working in order to bridge the gap from scenario A to B, and the good part is: it doesn’t need to be too complicated!

 

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EXECUTIVE SPONSORSHIP

You can start with identifying the Exec Sponsor, likely the Decision maker on the investment of Gainsight. We can call them Pam, usually the COO, CCO, or Global head of the CS and post-sales departments. They have a VISION, know what scenario B should look like, and you’ll need their sponsorship and involvement throughout the process, to ensure buy-in into this effort at all levels. The lack of an Executive Sponsor steering the project is the number 1 reason why a digital transformation fails, in almost 80% of the cases. Needless to say, we need our Pam to be involved! 

 

YOUR PERSONAS - WIIFM

Second, you’ll need to start mapping out who will be impacted by this transformation from scenario A to B, and whose support you’ll need to really make scenario B a reality. The recommendation here is to group the type of Personas - the users that can be grouped by role, level, region or type of activities expected to perform on Gainsight. This will make it easier to build the WIIFM = What’s In It For Me: why should they want to move from scenario A to B? Breaking down Pam’s vision into personas’ motivations is a powerful way of reducing the type of resistance from your future users that can hinder the success of this project.

 

COMMUNICATION STRATEGY

It doesn’t come as a surprise that the next point in our approach is indeed planning the basics of the communication strategy that will be used across the business. This is to ensure you give yourself and the other owners of the messaging the right time to organize what / when / where to send a message and to whom. Here below is a suggested list of the 5 key buckets that can be planned at the beginning - hugely helpful if we want to make a smart use of Pam’s time and keep her involved with a cadence.

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TRAINING & FEEDBACK LOOP

Now we arrive at one of my favorite parts of Change Management, number 4 on our CM Pillars list: Training and Feedback Loop establishment. This is the most tangible, human-first section of your strategy because you must put yourself in your personas’ shoes and explore questions like: 

  • What’s the best time/schedule for training, its content design, and the type of delivery?
  • How will you ensure interactivity and participation, also by empowering your users to provide feedback? 

Some of the best training I’ve seen had a clear but tailored approach to the personas in that group, and answered their questions on the what’s next as well.

 

For feedback collection, I’d recommend centralizing this via a slack channel, or a Google form with guided questions so you can then sort the feedback in topic buckets. 

  • Is it about a specific feature? Is it about the UI friendliness or rather a bug in a workflow? How urgent is it? 

To help you with this, you can start by identifying those users that are a bit more tech-savvy, and can see this new technology adoption as an opportunity for their professional growth: these will be your Champions! They’ll be your eyes and ears on general users’ sentiment, delivery of (local / departmental) training, and collection and analysis of feedback. But most exciting of all, they’ll help you add some fun to the mix - and here I am talking about incentivising your users to adopt new ways of working and supporting this change via gamification! Never forget to include some fun in the strategy mix. 
 

DRIVE OUTCOMES

Let’s go back to our scenario B, and the vision that Pam and the business had when they signed with Gainsight: what were those goals and outcomes? This fifth pillar is all about keeping an eye on the end-goal, our true North Star ⭐️ and reiterating this over and over, reviewing our course and, if needed, adjust the trajectory and the success strategy as we move forward. It is essential to have KPIs in a quantitative format as they’ll help us better recognise when we get to the finish line, or to our milestones, so that we can celebrate every step of the way.

 

WHAT’S NEXT?

A good Change Management strategy is an iterative process, and it needs to account for the organizational culture within which your team operates every day. The goal of your Change Management strategy is ultimately to reduce the resistance time from your users, thus boosting adoption and support for the new ways of working!

So, how to build your strategy and where to start, it’s up to you, as long as you incorporate a basic level of each of the Five Pillars of Change Management above. If you’d like to hear more on this, you can complete our Gainsight University course on Change Management. Other valuable resources:

 


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