Effectively managing and navigating change is crucial to your business’ success.
And it doesn’t happen easily.
As it turns out, one of the key causes of these failures is a lack of preparation on all sides of the equation. Case in point, Change Synergy found that ineffective change leadership and poor employee support were the reasons most change initiatives fail.
That being said, we’ve put together this helpful guide on change management training.
Here, we’ll discuss:
- What change management training is, and what it entails
- Why change management training is essential to immediate and long-term success
- The most popular change management training models in use today
- The tools needed to effect impactful change management training
- How to create an effective change management program
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
What is Change Management Training?
Change management training refers to employee training aimed at equipping team members and managers with the skills and knowledge needed to navigate, adapt to, and adopt organizational change.
The ultimate goal of change management training is for every change initiative you put together to go as smoothly and effectively as possible.
Note that both managers and employees should participate in change management training, albeit with different goals in mind.
For managers, change management training involves:
- Leadership training to help them better motivate, guide, and communicate with employees during changes
- Decision-making training to improve their information gathering, problem solving, and, of course, decision-making skills
- Resource training to ensure they know how to access and use the proper resources — and to provide it to team members as needed
For employees, change management training usually revolves around:
- Generating buy-in for change initiatives within various domains
- Building adaptability and resilience in the face of constant change without sacrificing productivity
- Continually building on skills and knowledge to improve performance after changes take place
As we’ll discuss, there will come times where specific change management training can benefit both manager and employee.
For now, just remember that the goal is to prepare all members of your organization for change of any shape, size, or intensity.
Why is Change Management Training Essential?
Though we touched on most of this above, it’s important to nail down the key reasons change management training is so critical to your business’ overall success.
(It’s also important to consider what will happen if you don’t adequately prepare your team for change.)
So, let’s dive in.
Increases Buy-In & Adoption
The first challenge of effecting change is actually getting everyone onboard with the shift.
To be sure, this is likely to be a recurring issue with every change effort you put together. Unfortunately, resistance to change is, to some degree, human nature.
That said, change management training aims to make attendees more open to both the immediate change at hand — and to the idea of making iterative changes to all processes over time.
Reinforcing this message within every training session reinforces in your employee the idea that change is inevitable and, when approached correctly, will always lead to better things for the team.
Reduces Resistance & Friction
Even if your team members are onboard with a given change, resistance and friction can still arise from a lack of preparation.
(For example, a new piece of software can be rendered useless if your team doesn’t have the skills to navigate its highly-technical interface.)
To this end, change management training helps managers and employees:
- Assess their current knowledge, skills, and contextual situation
- Create practical and realistic roadmaps for change
- Identify roadblocks and other challenges well before they’re encountered
…all ultimately leading to more effective and streamlined change initiatives for the team.
No matter how prepared you are, though, you’re bound to encounter unforeseen challenges and setbacks when making changes to your workflows.
Another goal of effective change management training is to teach team members how to best manage these instances — in two key ways:
- Emotionally: Change management training helps employees navigate feelings of doubt, imposter syndrome, and other mental blocks that keep them from doing their best.
- Strategically: Change management training equips learners with the best strategies and tactics to use in specific situations when things go wrong.
With change fatigue at a potential all-time high, change management training is essential for keeping employees onboard and working past initial obstacles.
Enhances Communication & Collaboration
For managers, it may involve learning how to better communicate project roadmaps, or how to coach their team and individual employees to success throughout the initiative. For employees, training might involve team-building exercises, brainstorming sessions, and more.
Even if not the focus of change management training, most sessions will likely touch on the best ways to work as a team throughout each change you face.
Improves Productivity (& Less Downtime)
Tying into much of the above, change management training teaches teams how to approach change initiatives without sacrificing productivity elsewhere.
Specifically, change training helps with:
- Time and resource management
- Task prioritization
- Focused skill development
In some cases, change management training can end up making teams more productive in tangential areas of operation both during and after a related change is implemented.
Improves Outcomes of Change Initiatives
If all of the above puzzle pieces fall into place, the end result will be better outcomes for every change initiative you put together.
Your change management training efforts will also give you more insight into your team’s and employees’ developmental needs. In turn, you’ll be better able to develop highly-relevant training sessions for them as needed — ensuring continuous learning and growth throughout your organization in time.
To be sure, this will almost certainly lead to an overall improvement in your company’s bottom line.
Tools and Software for Effective Change Management Training
As with all employee training initiatives, change management training relies on a number of software and technology for a variety of purposes.
Let’s take a look at the most important ones.
Change Management Software
Essential for any successful change initiative, change management software plays a pivotal role in guiding and optimizing the processes related to organizational transformations, particularly in the realm of training. This type of software is not just a helpful tool; it's a critical asset for ensuring that the steps taken during change are coherent, comprehensive, and effectively communicated across the organization.
For employees undergoing change management training, this software provides a structured and interactive environment where they can learn about new processes, policies, and cultural shifts. It often includes modules for role-based training, scenario-based learning, and simulations that are critical for understanding and adapting to change.
For managers, change management software is indispensable in planning and executing training strategies. It allows them to create and disseminate training materials, track employee engagement and understanding, and identify areas where additional training or support might be needed. This insight is vital for ensuring that all team members are adequately prepared for the transition and that the training aligns with the broader goals of the change initiative.
Learning Management System (LMS)
A learning management system (LMS) is a centralized platform designed to manage, track, and facilitate employee training and activities within an organization.
For employees, your LMS is where they’ll go to engage with instructional material and other educational resources. This allows for on-demand learning, along with ongoing, individualized self-assessment throughout your employees’ training sessions.
For managers, your LMS makes it easy to track employee progress, assess their abilities, and help them make the most of their change training experiences. And, it allows them to gauge their team’s overall readiness for an upcoming change – and prep them accordingly.
Collaboration and Communication Tools
As mentioned, communication and collaboration are essential to change management — and in preparation for change.
From instant messaging software to team management tools, employee comms tools keep learners and instructions on the same page throughout training sessions and as changes go into place. Similarly, collaborative tools allow colleagues to work together through training sessions when appropriate — even when operating from different parts of the globe.
Content Creation Tools
Change training should involve a wide spectrum of digital content and content-related experiences for your employees.
So, you’ll want to invest in tools that allow you to create such experiences via:
- Video and other multimedia content
- Quizzes and other individualized assessments
- Interactive, dynamic engagements with knowledge content and other documents
This is a vital step to ensuring your change training content is both informative and engaging enough to prepare your team for the upcoming initiative.
Project Management Tools
Project management software is needed to ensure everything goes as planned when making changes to your operations — and this includes training.
Tools like Asana, Trello, and Jira make it easy to keep track of:
- What training is needed to facilitate an upcoming change
- How team members are progressing through said training
- The impact of training on your employees’ effort and performance throughout the change
Survey and Feedback Tools
Survey tools like Google Forms, SurveyKing, and SurveyMonkey can help you better understand your employees’ perspectives before, during, and after change management training takes place.
With these tools, you’ll glean valuable insight into your employees’ preferences when it comes to change management training — and get a better idea of how you can make these training sessions more relevant and impactful in the future.
Zooming out, you can tie the feedback you collect to employee performance throughout a change. Again, this can help you nail down exactly what needs to improve to better prepare team members for ongoing changes within your organization.
Reporting & Analytics Tools
Comprehensive reporting and analytics tools can be used to assess both the effectiveness of your change training programs, as well as employee performance throughout the training.
AI-powered analytics is typically offered as a feature within modern LMS’, project management software, and the other tools mentioned on this list. In order to make relevant and contextual improvements to your change training efforts, these reports must be synced and synthesized within a centralized digital location.
Speaking of that…
Knowledge Management Tools
Knowledge management software — specifically an internal knowledge base tool — is a must for teams looking to maximize the effectiveness of their change management training efforts.
A comprehensive knowledge base acts as a solid foundation of knowledge and info for your team members to use as you prepare for an upcoming change. During change training sessions, learners can quickly refer to documents detailing best practices, demonstrating tacit knowledge, and more.
How to Create a Change Management Training Program
While each change initiative you develop will be unique in its own right, the training behind it should follow a standardized and strategic regimen.
Yes, it’s an involved process.
But becoming more systematic in your approach to change management training will ensure you check off all important boxes — and never miss a crucial step that might derail your change initiative before you even get started.
And, as your team becomes more accustomed to this systematic approach, you’ll be more apt to go through these steps with relative ease on your way to making positive changes within your company.
At any rate, let’s talk about how to create an effective change management program.
1. Define Change Parameters
Before you can train your managers and employees on an upcoming change, you need to know exactly what the change will entail.
As we’ve discussed before, this involves:
- Identifying the need for change
- Defining your goals and their intended impact
- Get all stakeholders onboard
- Collaboratively develop your plan for change
Keep the notion of change management training top-of-mind as you go through these preliminary steps. This will allow you to begin formulating a picture of what training will need to involve for the upcoming change to go as planned.
2. Assess Training Needs
Once the upcoming change is planned and documented, you’ll need to answer the following question:
What will your managers and employees need to know and be able to do to positively affect this change?
For starters, you’ll want to analyze the gap between what they know and can do now, and what will be expected of them in the near future. This will help you identify and develop employee training sessions that are focused on the changes being made to their actual workflows and processes.
You’ll also want to look at how your employees have managed similar changes in the past, as this will show you where resistance and other forms of friction typically occur. From there, you can develop the change-related training sessions that will be the focus of our discussion moving forward.
3. Define Clear Objectives
As with all business ventures, setting attainable, relevant, and measurable goals is key to effective change management training.
Generally speaking, these objectives will revolve around the following:
- Increasing adoption rates and successful change rates
- Reduce time to competency when making changes within a given domain
- Minimize loss of productivity throughout the change initiative
(Remember, we’re focusing specifically on your employees’ ability to manage change — regardless of what a certain change might actually entail.)
In addition to these more measurable objectives, you’ll also want to set goals that are more qualitative in nature. For example, you might aim to improve your team’s perspective on continuous growth and change, along with their perceived levels of perseverance and resilience.
As we’ll discuss, quantifying these subjective competency levels will require routinely gathering and comparing feedback from your employees as time goes on.
4. Choose the Right Delivery Method(s)
By now, you should have a clear idea of what you want your employees to learn and be able to accomplish through change management training — and a pretty good idea of what the training experience will look like for them.
Before you begin developing the training material, though, you’ll need to determine how to best deliver the intended lessons to your employees.
In short, you need to pick the right training methods.
For your current purposes, you should focus on methods that are more interactive, engaging, and learner-driven. This way, the idea of making iterative and continual changes becomes more of a collaborative and cooperative process than a mandate dictated from above.
- Real-world or virtual simulations
- Communities of practice and cooperative groups
Using multiple methods is often advised to enhance accessibility and make for more user-friendly training.
5. Develop the Training Content
The next step is to create the content that will drive your change management training initiative forward.
Some key best practices to follow:
- Utilize multimedia formats consistently and appropriately
- Build interactive experiences around the most critical parts of the training
- Use real-world scenarios and simulations to make the training’s applicability immediately clear
6. Align Training With Your Timeline for Change
The next step is to consult your original timeline for change to determine when to deliver certain training sessions and experiences to your employees.
Most obviously, you’ll want to train your employees well before they’ll need to actually use their new knowledge and skills. You don’t want them scrambling to learn and implement everything all at once.
Thinking more strategically, you want to time your training sessions so that the material is still fresh in your employees’ minds when they need it most. This is a huge part of building the feedback loop necessary to make changes stick for your team.
Finally, creating this timed alignment will allow you to better plan for resource usage and gaps in productivity when training is most intensive.
7. Implement Training
Finally, it’s time to implement your change management training.
As you kick-off and roll-out the training initiative, keep close by your learners to ensure they’re engaging with the material as you’d hoped — and are able to do so comfortably and effectively.
How you roll the training out depends on the situation (e.g., your schedule, your trainee roster, etc.). In some cases, you might train those most in need as a pilot group before implementing the training throughout the organization. In others — such as when regulatory compliance is an issue — an immediate roll-out may be necessary.
You might also consider designating certain employees as change agents, who will be responsible for facilitating engagement throughout the training. These agents can act as liaisons between your ground-level employees, management, and your executive staff.
8. Monitor Trainee Performance
It’s important to keep a close eye on your employees as they navigate your change training sessions.
From a high level, attendance and engagement records can help you gauge their interest in and dedication to the training. Periodic quizzes and skills assessments can unearth more granular details about their performance during training — and more insight into their overall knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Because time is of the essence, direct observation (coupled with immediate feedback) is vital to change management training. Your change agents should always be able to jump in and help learners navigate the change as needed.
9. Collect Employee Feedback
On the flip side of the above, you should be collecting feedback from your employees as they complete change training sessions.
You want to know:
- Whether the training adequately prepared them for the change
- Whether the training material was applicable to their role and needs
- How the training impacted their commitment to making the change
You can use a variety of methods to collect this feedback, such as:
- Surveys and questionnaires
- One-on-one conversations
- Social listening (i.e., on internal social media and intranet platforms)
In fact, you should use as many methods as possible to gain a more comprehensive and contextual understanding of your employees’ perspectives.
10. Analyze and Adjust Training (and Your Approach to Change Training)
As training concludes and the change process begins, you’ll still want to look back to how it’s gone so far — and how it can go even better next time.
First, consider the improvements that can be made to the specific training session. Perhaps the material could be more comprehensive or engaging; maybe the delivery method didn’t match the subject matter; or, maybe some learning experiences simply weren’t accessible for some.
Then, look at the big picture: What have you learned from this initiative that might help you improve your approach to change management training on the whole? What can you do to enhance your employees’ flexibility and willingness to change?
11. Document Everything
Finally, be sure to document everything that goes on throughout your change management training sessions.
For one, it will reinforce in your employees the importance of the training and their learning experiences — and act as even more evidence of their hard work and dedication to your organization.
Secondly, the info you glean and lessons learned throughout your change training initiatives are invaluable to your company, in potentially an infinite number of ways. Combined with the rest of your organizational knowledge, it can be used to make hugely impactful improvements to your operations across the board.
As to where to store all this documentation…
Using Helpjuice to Supercharge Change Management Training
As we said earlier, an internal knowledge base is integral to all phases of change management training.
Whether planning training sessions with leadership staff, delivering training materials and other learning resources, or updating your approach to change training, your knowledge base is the central hub of information you’ll be relying on.
If you’re currently in the market for a knowledge base software, you’re likely looking for one that:
- Allows for limitless, collaborative authoring and editing of knowledge content
- Offers Google-like search for fast knowledge retrieval
- Provides intelligent analytic reports on knowledge base usage and changes
That is, you’re looking for Helpjuice.
Best of all, you can try us out completely free of charge.
Want to learn more? Sign up for a free 14-day trial of Helpjuice today.
The Best Change Management Training Courses
After establishing the framework for your change management training program, you may want to consider incorporating external training courses. These courses can complement your in-house training by providing standardized, expert-led instruction in various aspects of change management.
By making use of external training courses, you offer your team members an opportunity to gain insights from change management experts and thought leaders. These programs often cover a wide range of topics, from foundational change management principles to advanced strategies for managing complex change initiatives.
Below is a list of the top change management training programs (in no particular order):
- Prosci Change Management Certification Program: Prosci is one of the leading organizations in change management training. Their certification program is widely recognized and focuses on applying Prosci's ADKAR Model and tools for managing change in organizations.
- Change Management Institute (CMI) Accreditation: CMI offers various levels of accreditation for change management professionals. They provide comprehensive training on change management principles and practices.
- APMG Change Management Certification: This certification is aligned with the Change Management Institute’s Change Management Body of Knowledge (CMBoK). It offers foundation and practitioner level certifications and focuses on the theory and practice of change management.
- Cornell University Change Management Certificate Program: This program is offered online and focuses on strategies for effective change management, including how to lead a change initiative and overcome resistance to change.
- Kotter’s Leading Change in Complex Organizations: This program, offered by Dr. John Kotter focuses on strategies for leading change in complex and large-scale organizations.
- ACMP’s Certified Change Management Professional (CCMP): The Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) offers this certification which is based on ACMP’s Standard for Change Management© and best practices in the field.
- The University of Michigan’s Leading Change in Organizations Certificate Program: This program covers various aspects of change management, including understanding resistance to change, strategies for effective communication, and how to build a culture that embraces change.
- ATD (Association for Talent Development) Change Management Certificate: This program is designed for those involved in talent development and HR roles, focusing on applying change management strategies to help people and organizations adapt to change.
- MindEdge’s Change Management Suite: Offered online, this suite of courses covers various aspects of change management, including fundamentals, strategies for dealing with resistance, and tools for effective change implementation.
- Institute of Change Management (ICM) Certification: ICM offers various levels of certification for change management professionals, focusing on the practical aspects of managing and leading change in organizations.
While external courses provide valuable knowledge, it's important to integrate them with your internal training efforts. Ensure that the learning from these courses aligns with your organization's change objectives and culture. You might also consider how these courses can be used to supplement specific areas of your internal training program.
By combining the structured approach of your in-house training program with the specialized knowledge offered by external courses, you can create a robust, comprehensive change management training experience for your employees. This dual approach not only enhances their skill set but also prepares them more effectively for the complexities of organizational change.