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Take a Collaborative Approach to Change Management

Making IT staff an active part of large-scale change projects will increase their ability to adapt in the long-run, and help them be more engaged and productive

It’s in the nature of large organizations to change, whether they’re trying to make a profit or serving a government in the public sector. In fact, the average organization has experienced five big changes in the past three years, according to CEB data.

Managing a change plan can be particularly difficult for government IT departments due to the organizational and cultural norms in the public sector that tend to make teams more averse to change. But, regardless of how teams feel about change, there will be some big disruptions in the next few years. Digitization, mission-led IT, and the impending administration transition will all change how IT teams do their jobs and with what resources, and will require an IT workforce that can quickly adapt to maintain productivity.

IT leaders must think differently about how they help employees acclimate. While many senior managers typically create and heavily invest in top-down change implementation plans, these plans don’t tend to bring about the changes required. Despite leaders’ best efforts, only 33% of employees working within big change leadership plans agreed that they successfully changed their behaviors to adopt the new change.

Learn more about the research behind Change Management best practices.

Embed Change in Employee Workflows

On top of that, change-related stress – such as the transition to a new administration – can decrease employee performance by as much as 5%. This is something that can have significant productivity and monetary costs.

Government IT teams should implement the change by helping employees understand how their day-to-day work will differ and  Have employees and managers lead change: Since organizational changes will affect IT employees differently than their colleagues elsewhere in the organization, consider enacting the change at the “end-user” level. Government IT leaders should create broad guidance for their function, but allow individual teams to create a plan to achieve their own goals.

This approach not only empowers employees to manage the change process, but also it ensures that the approach to change is tailored to individual work streams.

  • Shift from campaigns to conversations: Widespread email campaigns do not necessarily ensure end-user adoption. Instead, government IT leaders should shift the authority of change communications to managers and project leads, and promote a personal and honest dialogue within their teams.

  • Create “change challengers” in IT: Cultivate an open-idea environment where employees are encouraged to create and express different strategies to support the change – as well as challenge their peers to do the same.

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