Change Management: Planning for Change

Waterloo’s collaborative approach to Change Management (CM) focuses on people (employees, students, retirees, alumni and visitors). To support individuals, teams and the organization manage the change impact, a structured change management approach is applied to achieve the desired change outcome.  

Change is about engagement, collaboration, innovation, evolution, and partnership. When implementing a change, a change leader will work closely with individuals to minimize the impact the change may have as people move from a current and familiar state, through a transitionary exploratory state, to the desired defined future state (where the change is implemented and adopted). 

When planning change management activities, a change leader will consider and appreciate an individual’s unique change journey. By prioritizing and customizing activities to the individual's needs, change adoption and usage can be enhanced.  

Examples of activities the change leader can complete to support and guide an employee as they navigate their change journey fall within three unique change initiative phases: 

UWaterloo steps for implementing change

Phase 1: Prepare for the change

A time when the change is conceptualized, and information is gathered to inform the steps that need to be taken to implement the change. This may include conducting interviews, defining the characteristics of the change (size, incremental or radical) to inform the change strategy; selecting the change team; and identifying roles and responsibilities; defining impacted stakeholder groups and undertaking a preliminary assessment of the impact the change will have on these groups. Collaboration and innovation are key to this phase.

Phase 2: Inform, motivate and train stakeholders

A time to engage stakeholders, foster existing partnerships, or create new ones. A time to understand, assess, and manage resistance to the commitment to change. In this phase, you can create and roll out communications and/or training plans and identify change barriers and plan proactive strategies to address these.

Phase 3: Implement and sustain the change

A time to implement the change, celebrate success, and recognize contributions. Change leader activities should include frequent check-ins, engaging stakeholders to solicit feedback and (if applicable) address additional training needs. This is also a time when collection of data to inform adoption success rates will be valuable. From a change leader’s perspective, reflecting back on all activities undertaken and assessing the success of these activities is important and will help to inform planning for future change initiatives.