By nature, humankind is resistant to change. But when you work in an organization, especially with a dynamic environment, change is bound to happen. It can be as simple as training employees on new technology or as complex as merger and acquisition.
As an HR manager, you need to ensure that your employees are prepared to embrace the change, and when the change happens, they can adapt. While you can set up your employees for many change management training and workshops, they may be too technical and fail to communicate the benefits of change management.
Change management activity is one way to help prepare your employees to understand the benefits of change management models, bring in a dose of humor, and help the employees to align with the organization's vision. This article has a curated list of change management activities you may want to implement.
What are change management activities?
Changes are inevitable in any organization. It can be a change in the organization structure, introduction of a new application, or a complete change in management.
"As our team at Together grew from around 5 employees to over 20 we've had to drastically change how we manage our organization. Rather than working around a table or our coaches and calling one another up out of the blue to discuss this or that, we've had to adopt strict processes for managing product changes, submitting bug reports and resolving them, and running company meetings.
For example, we have a good practice of having a company wide stand-up at the end of each day. Everyone used to share what they had worked on that day. Now however, we've switched to have team leads summarize any relevant outcomes from their day. Instead of listing off what they did, they share what their team shipped. This is just one example of how we've managed change as we've doubled in size." — Matthew Reeves, CEO of Together
Change management activity is a fun way to initiate a conversation around change management, help employees understand the value of change, and help them overcome the resistance towards change through fun and engaging change management exercise. Change management activities can be fun office games, software adoption, and process standardization with tools like Scribe — a process documentation tool that writes your SOPs for you
What are the goals & benefits of change management activities?
Change management activities help employees to familiarize themselves with upcoming changes. Be it a process transformation or HR digital transformation, embracing change can make it a happy and productive workplace. And that’s what change management activities help you achieve — making a happy and productive workplace by encouraging and motivating your employees to embrace change.
Implementing change in the organization
Here's what experts have to say about the process.
“Our company recently changed the reporting process. The change affected multiple roles and divisions as the structure of the reporting sheets changed.
We approached the issue delicately by painting a picture of the current situation and the inefficiency it created backed by data. We gave the team a transition period, where they could try the new reporting sheet for two weeks, and provided feedback diligently.
We then tweaked the new reporting sheet to address any issues that arose. We also had data tracking to record the time gained by cutting the excess work. After a month, we had a company-wide meeting to report on the efficiency gain and have the full team consent to move forward with the new reporting structure.” — Paul Miller, Founder at Simply Be Paws.
And Matthew Ramirez, a Forbes 30 under 30 recipient, says:
“One of the change management activities that we have implemented is the introduction of new company policies. This change was met with some resistance at first, but we were able to overcome it with the help of our employees.
We ran a series of meetings to introduce these new policies and discussed their implications. At the end of each meeting, we asked our employees to fill out a feedback form so we would know how they felt about these changes. After a few months, our employees began to embrace these new policies. They are one of the many things that make our company a great workplace.
Also, we have implemented change management activities by analyzing the challenges our employees face in their job roles, and we have tried to overcome them by providing them with solutions. We conducted surveys and interviews with our employees to understand what they think are the challenges.
The solutions we have provided include providing them with training and coaching sessions and creating a supportive environment where they can share their concerns and ideas. We have also encouraged them to take risks and try new things, and we have also made sure that they feel appreciated for all their hard work.” — Matthew Ramirez, Entrepreneur, Investor, and Forbes 30 under 30 alumni
What are examples of change management activities & how to implement them?
Change management activities for on-site employees
You can do this fun change management activity with your onsite and remote employees. If you are playing this with your onsite team, gather the team outside in some open space.
Give them a bouncing ball and let them bounce it for two minutes. Once the time is over, let them settle down. Now ask them if the ball didn't bounce back at any point. The answer will obviously be a ‘no.’ Now draw an analogy with change management and show them how the ball bounced back every time. You will be bouncing back, too, after a change!
If you’re doing this activity with remote employees, you can show this concept over a video instead of asking them to bounce the ball in real.
The zigzag way!
This is one of the most interesting change management activities you can do with your team!
Gather all the employees in a big room and make them stand in a horizontal line. Now write down different keywords related to the change activity like:
... and more.
Ask the employees to walk a step forward if they find it a positive change or walk back if they find it a negative change. Note them down. Later, take time to reflect on why the employee saw it as a negative change and try to reason them out.
Change your seat
Gather all your employees in a big conference room and let them sit around an object placed centrally. Now let them change their seats and note what change they see at the object. Did they learn something new after changing their seat? Continue this for two rounds and let the employees record their feelings after each instance of changing seats.
This activity is a great way to initiate discussion around change management. It is also a good opportunity to discuss that while change is a constant, every change brings in an opportunity to learn something new in the long run.
Begin with setting up a roundtable for discussion between key stakeholders and observers.
The activity starts with the moderator giving a topic to the participating group.
The group starts the conversation with debates and sharing ideas. At any point, not more than six members will discuss the topic while the rest of the stakeholders can be observers. Continue a few rounds so that each stakeholder can actively participate in the discussion. At the end of the activity, spend time for final reflections and insights from the participants and the observers.
Cross your arm
This is one of the quickest change management activities you can do with your employees. Gather them in a room and let them sit in one place. Now ask them to cross-fold their hands and remain that way for two to three minutes.
Now ask them to cross their hands the other way. Let them be that way for another two to three minutes.
Afterward, let them relax once the activity is over. Now allow some time to ponder upon how the employees felt after the first posture and the second posture. Did they feel comfortable after the second posture? You might be surprised to hear answers like, initially, the posture felt uncomfortable, but as time passed, the employees got used to the new posture. The same may happen during a change in their work life too. A change might feel uncomfortable initially, but they will adjust to it with time.
“Recently, we implemented a new HR app for recording work time and making absence requests. It was a big change from timesheets, and employees were stressed about being more controlled. We wanted to ease everybody into the process, so we conducted a change management activity during our company quarter meeting.
The Cross Your Arms exercise was where employees had to cross their arms naturally and change their position after a while. Then, we discussed how they were feeling. The point was to demonstrate that initially uncomfortable things become manageable over time.” — Karolina Kijowska, the Head of People at PhotoAiD
This is a brainstorming and decision-making activity where all your employees can participate together. Before beginning this activity, write down the change you are trying to implement in the organization.
Know that for every change you want to establish, there will be a guiding force and a restraining force. You can only implement the change successfully when the guiding force exceeds the restraining force.
Once you write down the change on a whiteboard, divide it into two columns — guiding and restraining forces. Bring your team together to brainstorm the guide fore and the restraining force. Now work together to implement ways to overcome the restraining force and make a stronger guiding force.
Change management activities for remote employees
The ultimate drawing challenge
Gather all your remote employees on a video call. Ask them to keep the pen and paper ready. Add a note at the beginning of the activity that this game doesn't need drawing skills. Employees just need to follow what their managers say and complete the task.
The game starts with the manager asking the team to draw a house and allot them five seconds to complete the activity. When the activity is about to complete, the manager asks them to draw something else, like a boat. Again when the employees are just about to complete the boat, the manager asks them to draw something else, like a bird. This goes on for the entire duration of the game.
This game is a great way to set the foundation for discussing change management. Gather insights from the team on when they were most frustrated, how they overcame the frustration, and how they worked together to overcome the challenges. What were the moments that motivated them to complete the task?
Signing with the non-dominant hand
Get all your remote employees on a video call and ask them to sign their names with their dominant hand ten times. Then repeat the same exercise but this time with their non-dominant hand. Once they have done it ten times, ask them to repeat the exercise without specifying which hand they should use.
You will be surprised that most of your employees will revert to their dominant hand. This activity helps you start a discussion on how difficult it is to do something you are not used to doing and how convenient you find reverting to doing what you know and doing the best unless you make any conscious effort.
Identify the pattern
Gather your employees on a video call and ask them to write how they think change affects them with their dominant hand. Once they are halfway through the activity, ask them to use the non-dominant hand to complete the task. This activity is a great way to introspect how people think change can affect them versus how change affects them.
How to continue to support your teams during change management & beyond
“To support teams during the change management process, being compassionate and actively listening to concerns goes a long way. Funnily enough, it requires you to be open to change about how you conduct change management.
For any concerns and feedback, it’s important to address them immediately. At Finder, one of our values is “1 Crew,” where we work as a team to achieve our goals, overcome obstacles, collaborate, make things happen together, and support each other. Overall we take a very 1 Crew approach to change management.” —- Shirley Liu, Chief of Staff at Finder
“When leveraging change management activities and methodologies to support your team as they navigate change, it’s essential to remember change management is not a one-time consideration. Effectively supporting teams through change requires more than developing a solid communication and training plan before and during the shift.
To increase the likelihood that changes stick, identify how you will support your team in the long term. Consider gathering feedback about the change multiple times post-rollout to understand where gaps might still exist. And remember, changes require behavioral change, so it’s essential to recognize and celebrate the behaviors you want to see more of right after rollout and after some time has passed.” — Alyssa Towns, Organizational Change Manager at Adswerve
While going through a change management process, there are a lot of aspects that your employees need to follow or adhere to, many of those being for the first time!
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