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How to Develop a Great Change Management Plan

Picture of black tusk mountain with flowers - change management for project managers course

This week I’m teaching a course called Leading Change for Project Managers. The goal is to equip the project managers with the knowledge, skills, tools, and confidence to integrate and manage change management best practices in their projects – especially when they don’t have a dedicated change management person on their team. Among other things, we’re going to work through the key elements of creating a change management plan.

When I get asked to provide change management support on a project, my first question is always, ‘What do you mean by change management?’. My definition of change management is driven by the need for an organization to realize its desired outcomes from a change. To do this you need solid project management plans – to prepare, implement, and evaluate the change AND you need transition plans to support people through the ending, exploring, and new beginning stages of transition. Together, these plans make up your change management plan.

So how do you get there? To develop a solid change management plan you follow the Planning and Managing Conversations from my book – Talking Change: Must-Have Conversations for Success Leaders. Starting with The Why Conversation – why are we changing and why now, to the What, When, and How Conversation (listen to my Talking Change with Jen and Rebecca podcast to hear more on these conversations), through to the Stakeholder Conversation and the Results Conversation (and a few more in between).

The Planning and Managing Conversations help you create your project management plan – to prepare, implement, and evaluate – and also provide you with the foundation of your transition plan, by giving you insight into those impacted by the change, why they may resist the change, and what they are expected to do more, better, or differently to realize the change. Once you know this information you can build out your transition plans – which will include communications, engagement, training, coaching, a re-alignment of performance measures, possibly a champion network and pilots, and definitely a measurement plan to assess success.

The difference between a good change management plan and a great change management plan will be the engagement activities – this is where the Engagement Conversations from my book come in. Planning when, how, and with whom to have these conversations – then actually facilitating them – will exponentially increase your chances of a successful change! People will change when they feel heard, when their concerns are addressed, and when they have the opportunity to provide input – the Engagement Conversations are the way to make this happen.

There are eight Engagement Conversations that lead people through the ABC Transition Roadmap™ – from awareness of the change, to buy-in and belief, creating capability & capacity, to gaining commitment and continuing in the desired direction. Equipping not only your project team, but more importantly your people managers, to facilitate these conversations will drive engagement, commitment, and success.

So, crack open the book – assess your change project using the Planning and Managing Conversations (chapter 8) to make sure you’ve included what you need in your project plans then review the Engagement Conversations (chapter 9) to build out your transition plans.
You’ve got this!

Need more in-depth support or training on how to manage change and transition effectively? Reach out to bring one of my change courses into your organization to improve your change game. 

  • Are you managing or supporting a change initiative? Take the Leading Change for Project Managers course to build your confidence, skills, and toolbox to plan and manage change with ease. It's change management training for project managers. 
  • Are you leading a team through change – whether you chose the change or not? Bring the AIM Changer program to your organization – it will change the way you lead forever. 


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p.s. this is one of my favourite pictures of all time from a family hike - do you know where it is?