A Checklist for Change

Change happens with amazing frequency. This checklist seeks to get you started and ensure you’ve not missed anything major. It can be customised for your own change scenario.

The world is full of detailed courses, books, presentations and papers about managing change. In my experience most people want a brief, pragmatic, effective approach. It’s not rocket science and much of it is common sense. Whether you’re planning changes in strategy, structure, people, activities, buildings, locations or systems you need to be intentional.

 

Change is part of our everyday lives, both at home and at work. However, people have different attitudes to change: some love it and thrive on it, others resist it and may even try to ambush it!

 

Checklist for Change

 

  1. PRAY: If you are making changes in a Christian organisation or church or even if you are a Christian making changes in a secular context this is the number one responsibility right through the project. Pray that God will guide you and all those involved, that those engaged in the changes will be open to change and that a good outcome will be reached.

  2. PREPARE: At the outset give some thought to the what, why, who, when, where, how and how much. This will provide your terms of reference and feed into your communications and your plan. It’s a good point to refer to this checklist! This is a good time to ask others, who’ve undertaken similar changes, about their experience and whether they have any tips.

  3. COMMUNICATE: This is essential from concept to completion. Identify your stakeholders (staff, trustees, volunteers, donors, beneficiaries, congregation), update them regularly and let them know when they can next expect an update. Clearly there are some situations where confidentiality is required. Communication is a feature of many of the other points on this checklist.

  4. CONSULT: Identify your stakeholders in the proposed change and seek their views early in the process. This helps buy in and ownership, so people feel they are being asked rather than told.

  5. LOBBY: At an early stage identify the key people who you need to support the change. Talk with them and actively ensure their support. Ensure that your leadership team, and where relevant your trustees, buy in to the changes and will endorse them in both word and action.

  6. THE REASON WHY: Make sure you are clear about the real, underlying reason for change. Explain this in the initial briefings and frequently as things move forward.

  7. VISION: Explain what you are aiming to achieve and remind those involved regularly so they don’t lose sight of the objective.

  8. CLARIFY the END RESULT: Be specific about the tangible outcomes, so there’s no misunderstanding later.

  9. PLAN: Make a plan, monitor progress and update the plan regularly as timescales change and as new tasks are identified. Communicate the plan and its priorities to all those involved, especially those whose name appears against a task! Sharing the plan helps everyone see how the change is being made.

  10. CHANGE TEAM: Recruit a small team, both women and men, who represent different teams, different levels in the organisation, varied skills and ages. They are your ambassadors, your eyes and ears, your change-makers. Empower them to take initiative. They are the people to meet with regularly, to monitor progress and to address potential problems.

  11. ENERGY, ENTHUSIASM and INSPIRATION: All these are needed to keep the change process moving. So ensure you are inspiring, enthusiastic and energetic in all you do and say, it’s catching!

  12. IDENTIFY and MITIGATE RISKS: Make sure you and your change team consider the possible risks. You may like to do this as a brainstorm individually (possibly using post it notes) and together. Consider how likely each risk is, how significant the impact and what action you can take to minimise it. Additionally give permission to all those involved in the change to flag any potential problems as early as possible, so that they can be dealt with.

  13. RECOGNISE the IMPACT on people, processes and systems. Ask the change team and team leaders to consider the practical implications of what’s going to happen so that such situations can be managed. I find personal assistants, secretaries and administrators will often have the best insights on this.

  14. SET SUCCESS CRITERIA: You need to ask “What does success look like?” so that everyone will know when and whether the change has been successful.

  15. DELIVER SOME QUICK WINS: Most people are encouraged by results, so schedule some tangible outcomes early in the exercise. This will provide momentum for continuing activity.

  16. TRAINING: Check out who might need training in tasks that will be done differently and include this in the plan.

  17. MAKE IT HAPPEN: Its stating the obvious, put your plan into action, do it!

  18. CELEBRATE: Once you’ve reached your goal remember to pause, to thank all those who’ve been involved and find ways to celebrate. Share your success by telling the story more widely. In a Christian context give thanks to God.

  19. REVIEW and LEARN: While it’s still fresh in everyone’s minds remember to look back on what’s taken place. What went well that you could use in the next change scenario? What might be improved upon another time?

  20. CONSOLIDATE: Change takes time and energy. Allow time for the new situation to settle down, for everyone to get up to speed with it and to catch up on the projects that may have been on hold. If at all possible take a break before starting your next change management initiative!

 

Signposts

 

Author and copyright: Helen Calder 2019

Peer reviewed by Glyn Carpenter