Adopting new data governance and management processes might be a big transition for staff, citizens, and elected officials. It could create new duties for them or change work processes that have been in place for years. Getting buy-in from all impacted groups is essential for success. The change management materials included on this page are meant to provide guidance on supporting everyone through the transition.
Change Management is all about people, and making sure they feel supported, heard, and involved in changes that impact their day-to-day life. These supports should be provided to everyone who is impacted by change – from change leaders to citizens. It is important to remember that change management processes should be introduced as soon as the need for change is identified. This will help people prepare for, introduce, and maintain the change.
Building value for data into the culture of your government is key to implementing new data management processes. Staff need to understand the relevance of data governance to self-determination and taking charge of community well-being. Refer to First Steps: Visioning and Mapping a Path Forward for information about building a data vision.
This page includes:
- Change Management Models
- Change Management Best Practices and Principles
- Change Management Templates
- Change Management Summary Table and Checklist
- Change Management Case Study
Change Management Models
There are various models of change management which might provide helpful guidance. You do not need to incorporate every element of a change management model for every situation. Change management approaches should be flexible and adaptable, not burdensome. If a small-scale change is being implemented, there is no need to implement significant change management tools; a simple approach can be utilized.
A popular change management model is Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model, developed by John Kotter. Each of Kotter’s 8 Steps are outlined below along with examples relevant to data governance and management.
|Kotter’s 8 Steps
|Example for Data Governance and Management
Create a dialogue about the need for change, including potential threats and opportunities. This is a really important step for getting buy-in from staff and management.
|Make sure people understand why the change is needed. For example, discuss the opportunity to build data sovereignty and control the data narrative or the threat of missing out on funding if data is poor.
|Form a powerful coalition:
Get visible support from influential people within the organization.
|This may mean getting leadership, senior management and other key staff on board. If the change is large scale or wide-reaching, there may be a need to develop a Working Group with stakeholders across multiple groups (e.g., frontline staff, elected officials, citizens) to ensure they are champions for the change.
|Create a vision for change:
Create a clear vision that is easy to remember so that everyone understands where they are going and why.
|Refer to First Steps – Visioning and Mapping a Path Forward for help with developing a Vision. This should be simple and easy to remember.
|Communicate the vision:
Communicate the vision frequently and use it in your daily work.
|Include the vision in briefing materials, policies, training materials, and office posters. Reference it in team meetings while troubleshooting and developing new protocols. Ensure stakeholders have a deep understanding of what the vision means for them.
Look for barriers to change and remove them.
|Ensure data processes are streamlined and ensure staff are educated on any new policies. Make sure people have the training they need to understand and carry out the new processes with ease.
|Create short-term wins:
Create early, quick wins to motivate staff.
|Develop a plan for how the change will be implemented and communicate short term wins. For example, if there is a training component, make a big announcement when the first cohort completes training. Celebrating successes and showing the value is important to maintaining buy-in.
|Build on the change:
Build on the momentum achieved through early, quick wins. Continue to look for improvements.
|Start to implement new processes one by one until they are completed. This should be done in a focused manner to avoid burnout. If the change is small scale, this may not be relevant.
|Anchor the changes in the corporate culture:
Continue to make the change visible in the organization and important to leaders.
|Highlight the data culture in onboarding and training materials. Emphasize the role of data culture when reporting on useful data. Get feedback to staff on the results of their actions (e.g., new funding that results from data, changes in policy).
The eight steps can be done to varying degrees to support change. For example, in step four: Communicating the Vision – the vision could be shared verbally in a couple of meetings if it is a small-scale change, or it could be printed on posters and incorporated into training materials if it is a large-scale change. Some of these steps may not be required for a small-scale change (e.g., step one, step two, step seven, and step eight may not be needed).
Download a printable version of the Kotter’s 8 steps table below.
Change Management Best Practices and Principles
There are a number of ways to support staff and other stakeholders through change. Most of these are focused on ensuring their involvement and regular, clear communication to ensure that all concerns and questions are addressed.
Resistance to change among staff can be a major barrier to implementing new processes. It is important to work collaboratively with staff to understand the reasons for resistance, and work with them to address any concerns or questions. Remember: Change leaders have had time to sit with the change and understand why it is needed; staff may not have had that opportunity yet. It is important to ensure staff have time to understand the change and fully buy in.
Feeling a lack of control over the change and resentment towards change being imposed can be as big a factor in creating resistance as the actual effects of the change. Simply hearing an acknowledgement that it is difficult and frustrating to be affected by change that you don’t control can go a long way towards addressing resistance.
Change management best practices and principles:
- Ensure buy-in of senior personnel/leaders: Ensure leadership/management is on the same page and is committed to the change. Offer communication tools to ensure consistent information is shared from leadership to other stakeholders.
- Involve those affected right from the start: The need for a change may have been identified by front-line staff, managers, or leaders. Whatever the case, make sure everyone affected by the change is involved in assessing the need, and in considering the options. People are far more likely to support change processes if they feel that they had a hand in shaping it.
- Take time to understand concerns: Change can be demanding and can also have real negative effects for some people involved. It is important to take time to understand concerns and ensure they are addressed. Building supportive relationships and having meaningful conversations about the change is critical to implementing sustainable change.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate (early and often): One of the hardest parts of change is making sure everyone maintains awareness of the change and feels they are included. Keep staff (and other stakeholders) updated and seek their feedback. If you feel like you are overcommunicating, it is probably just enough. Start two-way communication before the change happens and make sure to allow for meaningful input.
- Include people in the change: Those who are impacted by the change should have a voice in planning what the change will look like. Involvement can look different depending on the nature of the change, but it is important to ensure people have their voices heard in terms of what the change will look like. If they are not included, it can result in a lack of buy-in and investment in maintaining the change. Talk to people about how they want to be involved in the change and their ideal vision for how the change will impact their day-to-day work.
- Demonstrate why this matters: Make sure people understand why the change is needed and how multiple parties will benefit from the change (e.g., how will citizens benefit – better service delivery, improved efficiency, etc.). Communicate this regularly to ensure people remain bought in to the end goal.
- Explain what’s in it for them: Explain how the change will improve the government and make things easier for staff to do their jobs.
- Quick wins: Plan an implementation that it is done in phases. This way, the completion of each phase can be considered a win. Quick wins are key to building energy and enthusiasm for the project and are important to maintaining buy-in.
- Work on buy-in from “challenging people”: There are often people who will push back against change – they can be the biggest asset when implementing change, if their concerns are heard so that they can buy in to the vision. Work to bring them into the change by communicating, understanding concerns, and working to address them (as possible). This doesn’t necessarily mean changing the whole project to meet their needs, but it does require sincere, meaningful effort to understand and address those needs.
- Pilot projects: Rather than adopting a new process across your entire government, start with a pilot project. This can allow any key issues to be identified and addressed early on. A pilot project is a small, focused, preliminary project intended to test out and improve a process before it is fully implemented. For example, you might have one or two staff members test the new process for a period, and work with them to address any issues that come up, before rolling out the process to other staff.
- Ensure sufficient resources: Once the decision is made to implement a process, financial and human resources are needed for the change to be successful. If existing resources are at capacity, you will need additional resources to be allocated or some of their workload will need to be paused.
- Provide ample training: Ensure staff have enough training to successfully do their job. This requires planning, communication, and time to ensure staff are able to learn.
- Take breaks if needed: Sometimes change just doesn’t go well. Allow for this and take time to re-frame and re-group as needed. This should not be seen as a failure, but as an opportunity to ensure practices are implemented in a way that best supports those impacted by change.
- Allow for dips in productivity: Introducing new practices will inevitably lead to temporary dips in productivity as staff adjust and learn. Management must be prepared to give their staff permission for this temporary change in productivity.
- Frame the work as ongoing: Data governance and management needs to be framed as an ongoing process and a permanent shift in government culture, rather than a one-time project.
Download a printable version of the best practices and principles below.
Change Management Templates
The following templates are further explained through the Change Management Case Study below. Each is designed to support change management in a flexible manner. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to change management – it can be adapted to suit the realities of the change and how stakeholders are impacted.
It is important to remember that not all tools are needed for every situation. If it is a small, straightforward change that people generally feel good about, you may only need the Change Impact Assessment and Communications Schedule. For example, if you were changing a form, it would be important to understand who is impacted and have a schedule of how/when information about the change will be communicated.
If the change is significant (e.g., a complete overhaul of the data management system) then all templates will likely be needed. The table below indicates whether or not the template should always be used or if it can be dropped off with more simple changes.
|Change Impact Assessment
|Question and Answer Document
|Training Session Plan
The level of detail provided in the documents can vary depending on the nature of the change. If the change is straightforward, not as much detail will be needed. These are all adaptable documents that are meant to make change easier – not add layers of complexity.
Note that all these templates should be considered living documents. This means that they will need to be re-visited and adjusted throughout the duration of the change. People’s needs and perspectives will change as they become more knowledgeable about the change; therefore, the tools used to support them also need to develop and grow.
The change management templates provided include:
- Change Impact Assessment
- Communications Schedule and Calendar
- Question and Answer Document
- Training Plan
- Training Session Plan
For each, there is a brief explanation provided in italicized, yellow highlighted font and an example entry provided from the change management case study below in italicized, blue highlighted font. These explanations and examples can be deleted as the template is used.
Change Impact Assessment
The Change Impact Assessment should be one of the earliest tools used in a project. It allows for leaders to understand how stakeholders will be impacted by change from their own perspective. To fill this out, it is essential to engage with representatives of the various groups to ensure their true feelings are being understood. For example, if you want to assess the impact of the change on staff, conversations have to happen to thoroughly explain the change and staff need to be given the opportunity to openly share how they feel they will be impacted.
Download the Change Impact Assessment template below.
Communications Schedule and Calendar
A Communications Schedule is another tool that can be used early in the change process. The purpose of the Communications Schedule is to allow for predictable, consistent communications. This should be developed and informed by the Change Impact Assessment, with more frequent and fulsome communications for those who are impacted to a ‘High’ or ‘Medium’ degree.
The Communications Schedule can be shared in a visual way using the Communications Calendar, which helps ensure predictability and consistency. It provides a full month-by-month overview of the communications schedule, with each ‘milestone’ indicated on the calendar. This should be developed and informed by the Change Impact Assessment, with more frequent and fulsome communications for those who are impacted to a ‘High’ or ‘Medium’ degree. This can be used on its own or together with the Communications Schedule.
Download the Communications Schedule and Calendar template below.
Question and Answer Document
The Question and Answer Document is a summary of important points that can be shared with stakeholders to ensure they are receiving consistent information. This is a key element in ensuring no false rumours are starting and areas of concern are being addressed.
The Question and Answer Document can be a simple email or word document with the questions listed and clear, concise answers provided. The focus should be on keeping it as simple and straightforward as possible. There should always be a contact person that individuals can follow up with if they need clarification or have additional questions they would like addressed.
Download the Sample Question and Answer Document on Change Management below.
Training Plan and Training Session Plan
Sometimes change requires training to ensure those involved have the knowledge and education required to support the change. Having a clear training plan can be a key element in easing anxieties and assuring those impacted that there is a plan to support them in learning everything that is required.
Download the Training Plan Template below.
To ensure that training is a good use of staff time, it is critical that staff members and their managers have a clear understanding of what each training session will involve. Having a clear plan for each training session ensures that participants can make an informed choice about which training sessions they should attend.
Download the Training Session Plan Template below.
Change Management Summary Table and Checklist
The Change Management Summary Table and Checklist summarizes the information above to clearly lay out the steps of a change. The document includes both a comprehensive summary table and a simplified checklist that can be printed off and used to help you keep track of progress.
Download the Change Management Summary Table and Checklist below.
Fictional Case Study
The Sulingituk Government recently decided to introduce a new tool to manage information and to help with data collection. This will involve the transition away from paper filing towards an online, cloud-based system.
The webinar below is a presentation by Katie Newcombe and Luke DeCoste (Davis Pier Consulting) on the change management tools in this toolkit. For more webinars covering content in this toolkit click here.