Change is inevitable. Whether it’s routine—like getting a haircut or something a little more exciting, such as landing a new client—change is the one constant everywhere. Successfully adopting change is extremely challenging with over 70 percent of change initiatives failing.
The iProspect PMO uses the Kubler-Ross Change Curve (KRCC) model to understand the emotional states team members experience during a major account change. By analyzing typical reaction to change events, iProspect is part of the 30-percent of teams who successfully implement change.
Kubler-Ross Change Curve. Image courtesy of Rutgers.
Shock, Anxiety, Excitement? Create Alignment.
Most people are comfortable with the status quo and—on one extreme end—react to change announcements with shock and anxiety. On the other end, some are excited for change. This is an emotionally volatile time and it is important for teams to create alignment.
Real world application: A client we recently took on at iProspect began sending us 20+ new work requests a day as soon as we had our initial kick-off meeting. This was overwhelming because these new work requests were on top of the work the team was already doing to onboard and assume all work from the client’s previous agency. Our Project Management (PM) team was doing its best to keep up with the influx of daily emails from more than 50 different client contacts, but a change to the new work request and intake process was necessary. Our PMs used our enterprise work management system, Workfront, to streamline the process by enabling clients to submit work requests to one, secure location versus sporadically over disparate email accounts. While a seemingly easy change, it was not immediately implemented. Representative of the initial shock seen on the KRCC model, one client’s immediate response was, “But sending an email is quick and easy!”
In the next phase, Resistance, people question the timing of changes and if it needs to happen at all. According to best practices from the KRCC model, open and transparent communication is the best way to respond to change-resistors in this phase.
Real world application: In addition to informing our client stakeholders via writing about the team’s new work process change from email to an online platform like Workfront, iProspect’s PMs also scheduled a series of hands-on training sessions and follow-up communications catered specifically to the account’s needs. In the previous example, this established lasting habits of regular communication, which proved crucial for a smooth change management process and greater collaboration.
To counteract Despair—the next phase in the KRCC model—iProspect’s PMs find unique ways to motivate team members to engage in the change management process. They give them an active role, which also increases their sense of ownership and greatly contributes to increased buy-in for successful change management.
Real world application: The ability to create customized forms is available in Workfront and iProspect’s PMs gave their client stakeholders ownership of defining the common, account-specific information for their work requests. The client’s work defining standard information through Workfront custom forms that iProspect PMs built for them saved both the iProspect and client teams countless hours of ineffective clarification over previously lengthy and disparate email chains.
Curiosity? Develop It!
Curiosity soon follows in the KRCC model as people become more engaged and interested in change initiatives. iProspect develops engagement by increasingly incorporating team member ideas for greater involvement and buy-in.
Real world application: As our clients began using Workfront in the standing example, they started seeing benefits, such as easy views into the status of their work. Our clients also asked for additional reports, which iProspect’s PMs quickly provided. Both the client and iProspect team continued iterating on these shared reports for even more process improvements.
Gain Acceptance by Sharing Knowledge!
Acceptance is the final phase in the KRCC model. iProspect’s teams share knowledge, such as success stories, to gain acceptance.
Real world application: Not all our clients immediately accepted the proposed change to use Workfront instead of email in the standing example; however, one client who quickly saw the benefits, championed the platform to his colleagues by sharing positive experiences. When his client colleagues heard them, they embraced change easier. Now, everyone follows the same process, resulting in time-savings, consistency, and greater account organization.
Understanding how emotions vary during periods of significant change, as well as how to address this, ensures a model for successful change management towards better collaboration and operational efficiency for iProspect’s clients and account teams.