Change management for CRM

Change management is an approach to systemically shift individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state while mitigating productivity loss during the transition, creating the environment for sustained change and realizing the benefits of change more quickly. 

The implementation of a new system will move many people away from the status quo and outside their comfort zone. Most strategic software implementations meet many cautious or resistant users and a smaller number of users who are adamantly opposed to change. 

This later group may be initially difficult to recognise as they generally cast doubt in private forums outside of management visibility. If uncontrolled, the hidden agendas and failure to embrace the needed change will significantly challenge the project, and likely result in time and budget overruns. 

To proactively head this off a dedicated change management framework needs to operate in parallel to application implementation. The framework should analyse changes caused by the new solution, forecast the operational impacts, understand the cascading effects to users, prepare staff for change, and implement methods to minimize resistance to change. 

Change Management Framework 

Examine the organizational culture – Solicit and gather user feedback, design the change management strategy and plan, develop the case for change, provide methods and tools, and manage transformation activities and progress. 

Change management consultants can bring guidance and best practices, but organizational management must also orchestrate a change governance hierarchy – the change effort must be led from inside the organization.

Articulate a clear vision – Introducing more change without clear direction contributes to staff anxiety. Senior Leadership and management at all levels must articulate how the vision directly aligns with the organization’s most important business priorities. 

The vision should be tailored for each stakeholder group, including the customer, the employee and the company. It’s also helpful to forecast milestones along the journey so staff can witness progress and see a finish line. The more interim successes the better. 

Assess change readiness – The reasons for change will be questioned many times during the project so the case for change must clearly identify the pressures for change, the benefits of change and the definitive reasons why not changing is not an option. Surveys can determine whether the case for change is understood throughout the organization. 

Surveys are a good start, but the changes must be viewed from the employees’ perspective. Walk a mile in the user’s shoes – empathy can provide meaningful insight. 

Be on the lookout for sacred cows. Change agents normally uncovers institutionalised obstacles such as cultural norms, established processes, influential people or political fiefdoms so entrenched or insulated that they appear sacrilege to question and untouchable.  

Design the Communication Plan – Acceptance begins with understanding the need for change and becoming involved in the change effort. The communication plan defines what will be communicated, to whom, when, with what frequency, for what purpose, and how and by whom it will be delivered.  

It should articulate messaging by project phase and group – general communications delivered to all recipients supplemented with tailored communications designed for various stakeholder groups. 

Additional change management best practices include the following: 

  • Articulate a consistent narrative regarding the need for change, the process for change and the benefits of change. It’s helpful if management can also provide the context for change by linking the change effort to external factors such as customers, competitors and markets. 
  • The Communication Plan must deliver the right message to the right audience at right time. Good communications plans start small, build momentum and finish with a crescendo effect. Aim for a progressive messaging plan that moves recipients along a continuum from Awareness, to Interest, to Understanding, to Engagement. 
  • People respond to different channels differently. It’s helpful to engage stakeholders using multiple channels and media (email, newsletters, Intranet notices, enterprise social networks, face to face meetings, Vlogs). 
  • It’s critical not to over-promise when setting expectations. It’s helpful to acknowledge there will be some rough spots, benefits may be realised in small increments and not every user will benefit from the project after go-live or possibly ever. 
  • Make the messaging interactive. Always solicit and act on feedback. Use a channel such as an internal social network group or tool to capture feedback. 

Make sure your communication with users is a dialogue and not a monologue and remember that all feedback is a gift. You may increase input by creating a reward system for feedback and new ideas. 

In part two of the article, we will continue to explore the change management framework. Sign up to recieve our newsletter to ensure you don’t miss part two. 

8 ways to combat employee change fatigue

Real change can ultimately only happen when employees adopt new processes, practices, systems and models. But how can you keep your team motivated and combat employee change fatigue?

Here are our top tips on combatting employee change fatigue:

1. Clearly define outcomes 

Make sure your change initiatives have very clear and defined outcomes which you can describe easily. More than that, start your initiative by talking about the objectives and outcomes, not about what you’re going to go through to get there. 

2. Place a premium on people’s time

Plan your change programme in light of the capacity of the key people involved and affected. Don’t develop a timeline for the programme and then start assessing what needs to give to achieve it. 

3. Lead by example

If you don’t then employees will feel they are constantly told they need to adopt change, only for the leadership team to keep on doing what they always do, and for managers to maintain the same old routines. 

4. Implement a communications plan

 Communicate openly and honestly to your employees at every stage of the change process and remind them of the context about what is driving the change.  

5. Shift the language about change

The term ‘change’ classically means the end of one thing and the beginning of something new. Instead of defining the change by business objectives, explain the positive impact it will have on the purpose of the organisation and to your members, donors and supporters.  

6. Celebrate the small wins

 When leading change, small victories become big victories over time. Ensure you highlight even the smallest of successes, encouraging your employees to keep the good momentum going. 

7. Regularly check-in

Measure and monitor the change progress and team health on a regular basis and ask your team how they think the change is going. Find out if they are facing any challenges and what fixes they need.  

8. Follow through on promises

Setting and meeting expectations is a key aspect of successful change programmes, and that applies at every level. If you promise to review, do, act on, feedback on something, then make sure you do. You won’t always be able to give people everything they ask for, but you can try and you must explain why not where appropriate 


Download our 8 ways for combatting employee change fatigue infographic.

Part 2: Are you a part of a learning organisation?

In part one of this article, I talked about how becoming a learning organisation can unlock the potential contained in a system and explored how effective learning can take place at the individual level. In part two, I will discuss how you can ensure effective learning can take place at both the team and organisational level.

Team development 

At the team level, the learning needs to focus on collective observation and reflection, based around a framework of shared goals and mission. This also goes hand in hand with a supportive environment where rather than blame and recrimination for sub-standard performance, the team is supportive and involved in helping all members to develop capability and increase contribution. This requires an openness to discussing individual behaviours in response to feedback and to apply and continually monitor these behaviours, and the use of collaboration tools and the sharing of individual knowledge is essential to facilitating this. 

So, in effect there are four major areas for consideration: 

  1. the purpose of the team and the team success criteria 
  2. the make-up and dynamics of the team 
  3. the design of the technical infrastructure to support the team 
  4. the process of team development 

Specific behaviours that lead to team development include: 

  • members having a range of overlapping skills and competencies 
  • the leader acting as a coach and mentor, rather than a traditional supervisor 
  • problems seen as collective issues to be resolved, not just managers problem 
  • teams developing their own solutions 
  • teams setting and monitoring their own targets – and monitoring these 
  • members having direct customer contact wherever practical (customers may be external or internal) 
  • the need for constant personal upgrading is recognised and encouraged by all team members 
  • rewards are diverse and situational 

Organisational learning 

At the organisational level, there may be considerable barriers to the development of collective learning, including a lack of recognition of the need within the staff body, functional and geographic barriers (especially since Covid-19), a risk-averse culture, and a lack of buy-in and encouragement from leaders at all levels of the organisation. 

In order for organisational learning to continually take place, there has to be an organisational commitment to allowing it, through planning, policies, encouragement, recognition and investment, both in technology and human resource. 

The organisation has to critically examine and be honest about identifying and measuring its’ core competencies and addressing the deficits that exist. 

There may be a performance gap relating to a lack of efficiency in cost, quality, response time to queries and requests for service which can be directly addressed but there may also be an opportunity gap. 

An opportunity gap is an area where resources could be profitably deployed to create new opportunities, whether new markets, products and services or generating more customers/members. Addressing an opportunity gap is a more problematic activity but can be addressed in part through: 

  • Gaining staff commitment to innovative approaches 
  • Leveraging resources to focus on functionalities rather than products and services 
  • Energising the whole organisation to concentrate efforts by developing a collective mindset, shared goals and developing strategies for acquiring and deploying the individual knowledge and competencies to the common good 
  • The development of governance processes that foster ever-better quality of relationships across traditional business units and functions and sees the collective learning spanning organisational boundaries 

For organisational learning to develop there needs to be more than just information passing. There needs to be sharing of individual and team learning and the willingness to invest in the technical infrastructure to support this. 

Are you looking to implement new technology and want to ensure you can unlock the potential contained in the system? Get in touch to find out how we can support you.

Are you part of a learning organisation?

Knowledge is the lifeblood of the organisation

You’ve invested large amounts of finance, time and effort in a new customer or member management system, linked it to your website and accounting application. You analysed and documented the organisation’s business requirements, considered how processes might change as a result of having the new system and spent a lot of time ensuring that all that old, redundant or inaccurate data was cleansed, de-duplicated and updated. 

But what comes next? 

How do you really start to unlock all the potential contained in the system and how do you exploit this?

Access to new technology, linked with news paradigms of work due to many external factors means that you also need to consider your workforce and their potential as the major resource now available. Staff have to be capable of quickly changing to new working practices and systems, managers have to be effective at managing the change and the organisation has to become much more flexible than previously required. 

At the heart of this is the potential to change to new hierarchies of work that often cut across traditional organisational boundaries and make use not just of quicker responses and better data but of the knowledge that is now unlocked and available to staff.  This knowledge is the lifeblood of the new organisation and comes from being able to link and make inferences about customers and members, from being able to analyse and anticipate their behaviours and developing products and strategies to take advantage of this knowledge. The intellectual capability of staff becomes an ever more important resource as the knowledge-based contribution they make increases.  

Invest in the intellectual capability of your staff

In response many organisations are recognising the importance of becoming learning organisations, placing a different emphasis on staff development away from traditional, individual training and into organisational learning. 

The concept of organisational learning is based on the idea that new ideas and experiences themselves don’t lead to organisational improvement, only people can translate these ideas into action and this needs to be planned and managed at three levels: 

  1. Individual 
  2. Team 
  3. Organisation 

Individual intellectual competence 

For effective learning to take place at the individual level it’s essential to foster an environment where they are encouraged to take risks, where mistakes are tolerated but where there is a designed approach to learning from these mistakes, through follow-up action and reflection on the activity and the outcomes, and the sharing of the learning across teams and the wider organisation. 

In part two of this article, which will be published next month, I will explore how you can ensure effective learning can take place at both the team and organisational level. Ensure you do not miss this, and much more by signing up for updates below and get our latest articles, insights and events sent to you.

Put your organisation’s culture at the heart of your recruitment process

Our chase.livestream culture theme this year explored how to get the best from your staff and embed lasting change in your organisation. We’re proud to say we have our best team yet at Hart Square and are often approached for advice on how we got here. It all starts with finding the right people so here are some recruitment tips that have proved so successful for us.


Click here to download the 7 Top Tips to create your best team yet infographic 


1) Explain the role, the culture and the vision well

You need to have a clear purpose and vision for the role you are looking to fill; that is not the job spec or recruitment advert. You need to be able to explain what it would be like to be in the role and what your company culture is all about. Being succinct and clear about the role is really important from the minute you make the first contact with your potential candidates. What are the 3-4 things that really count and will make someone successful?

2) Be prepared to sell the role

Even if you have an interesting and rewarding position with an attractive compensation package, be prepared to sell the job to prospective candidates. Don’t ever assume the supply of good candidates exceeds demand. It is important to organise a transparent and swift recruitment process. You will inevitably lose good candidates along the way if you have not sold the job well enough or taken too long in the recruitment process or your decision making.

3) Warts and all

Whilst it is important to make the role attractive, nobody will believe that every part of the job is going to be brilliant. “This is the bit where I’m going to try to put you off this role” does raise a few eyebrows and smiles in an interview, but candidates appreciate the honesty. Do explain the challenges of the role, the boring bits, the bits others sometimes struggle with. Do be upfront and clear and see how the candidates react. Are they up for the challenge? It is no good them finding out once they’ve started, that doesn’t help them or you.

4) Involve existing staff

Who can better sell the role than your existing team, so use the champions for your company culture in informal interview pre-meets, an employee referral programme or through the interview panel. This can help your team to get buy in to their new colleagues, and them in turn having a better understanding of the role and your company culture. Involving your team in recruitment can be very rewarding and reap great benefits for all parties.

5) Hire for attitude and passion

Yes experience and skills are important but if the candidate does not share your company passions and culture it will be an uphill struggle. To hire on this basis, you need to be able to explain your culture well enough so make sure you can, or get someone to help. Then be prepared to invest in training and mentoring to bridge any knowledge gaps.

6) Leave a good impression

You are likely to see a large number of candidates throughout the process and it is vital for them to have a positive experience. Aim for the recruitment to be a useful learning process for all and provide as much feedback as you can. In the world of non profit candidates you never know when you may come across your candidates again and it is important to leave a positive lasting impression even for the unsuccessful candidates.

7) First impressions do count so make induction the best you can

The induction process when someone joins sets the scene for their whole time as your employee. Make it count, make it memorable and welcoming, make it the most valuable experience in their career to date and they will embrace and reinforce the culture of your company and stay with you for longer.

In summary, plan your recruitment approach carefully and make the culture of your organisation the key theme in how you find and keep your best team.


Click here to download the 7 Top Tips to create your best team yet infographic 

How can my organisation become digitally mature?

How can my organisation become digitally mature?

At Hart Square, we have the privilege of working with a range of different organisations right across the non-profit sector. Recently many of them have been placing a strong emphasis on improving their digital capabilities and their all-round use of technology.

Against this backdrop, one question arises regularly: how do organisations become ‘digitally mature’ or a ‘digital first’ organisation?

Understanding what being digitally mature means can be a challenging first question, and it will mean different things for different organisations.

McKinsey Consulting, in their article “What Does Digital Mean” defined it as:

Digital is less a thing and more a way of doing things

So how can your organisation develop its level of digital maturity and reach a place where you’re happy with your way of doing things? There are several elements which an organisation should consider, and we will analyse a couple below.

Critical factors in this are the culture and skills within the organisation.

In a digitally mature organisation, there needs to be a focus on developing people’s skills, allowing experimentation to take place and creating a culture that values the learnings that come from failure. Of course, skillset is an important aspect but equally important is the culture of your organisation. Conditions need to facilitate new ways of working and giving people the tools they need to push the organisation forward.

This is acknowledged in the 2019 Charity Digital Skills report by Zoe Amar, where 56% of charities are asserted to be taking active steps to improve their culture so digital can flourish.

Customer experience and understanding your audiences are other important factors.

This does not necessarily mean you should just have the latest digital ‘fad’ but instead understand how and where your audiences are engaging. To ensure you can continue to respond to your customers’ needs, you need to put the right infrastructure and processes in place to implement a continuous cycle of development which evolves over time.

Each organisation will have their own way of judging if they are ‘digitally mature’ but in a rapidly changing digital ecosphere the goal posts will continue to move.

That is why its more critical than ever to put in place the right processes, people and infrastructure that will allow your organisation to flourish and evolve. If your organisation can do things in the right way, it will be more than capable of reaching and sustaining the digital maturity you desire.

How to find a balance between culture and strategy

In my previous post on the subject of culture and strategy, I described how and why they compete for dominance in many organisations, especially charities. Taking this forward, this article looks at why we need to align them.

How to find a balance between culture and strategy

The key to balance is discovering if the existing culture is going to readily enable the strategy or not. Unless the strategy is written from the result of discussions and feedback across the entire workforce, it is likely that it will involve certain actions that are not considered universal priorities. This could therefore be of disinterest to some of the key stakeholders and negatively impact the success of the strategy.

The following considerations serve as a guide to design an inclusive strategy that leaves less room for a strong culture to jeopardise the success of a transformational project:

  • Align strategy with values – if each action of the strategy can lead to an outcome that is directly linked to the mission and vision, the importance of the task will be clearer, which, in turn, will increase motivation and participation within the team.
  • Set realistic targets based on known skills and behaviours – if the team does not have the capacity or skill set for project work, there will be resistance, which could cause delays, or scope and budget changes. It could be worth opting for a hands-off approach or looking to outsource this role.
  • Undertake an honest analysis and criticism of your culture before taking on a new direction to see if the current strategic approach will be possible within the remit of the culture – if the answer is no, it will be easier to adapt the approach of your strategy than to try and fight against an uncooperative culture.
  • Do not assume that a (good) strategy alone can fix holes in a (bad) culture – it may be that complementary workshops and training are needed to address aspects of the culture that the organisation wants to move away from.

Giving strategy a seat at the breakfast table

In summary, Drucker’s theory should not serve as a reason not to embark on a new project or introduce a strategy refresh. It should however serve as a reminder that when creating a strategic roadmap, the power and influence of the organisation’s culture should not be underestimated or overlooked. After all, Drucker also said that “change is the norm; unless an organization sees that its task is to lead change, that organization will not survive”; reminding us that change and transformation are essential to the success of the organisation, and that by letting the fear of a culture vs strategy face-off prevent leading change, it will also prevent all of the new opportunities that come with change.


Interested in content about culture and strategy? Join us for chase.livestream from September 8th to 10th for more great insights. The no1 leadership conference for the non-profit sector is fully virtual and free to attend.

Does culture always eat strategy for breakfast, or is there room for both at the table?

Management Consultant and author Peter Drucker coined the expression: ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ to illustrate that the realisation of strategic goals will be hindered if the culture of the team does not support them. This theory has sparked debate across all sectors but is particularly relevant to the charity sector where organisations often have a very strong and united culture heavily influenced by their mission and vision.

Why charitable organisations have especially strong cultures

Individuals tend to be attracted to work in the charity sector due to an affiliation with or belief in a certain cause, and therefore many charities are made up of teams of people with similar opinions and priorities. When a group of likeminded people are working in the same place, a culture is therefore borne out of the unspoken behaviours, mindsets, and social patterns that these individuals share. To illustrate, it is unlikely that a person who hates animals would choose to work in a donkey rescue shelter. Far from it, it can be assumed that the team would be made up of people who love and care for donkeys, and would put their comfort and wellbeing ahead of other responsibilities within their job description, such as reaching strategic targets and goals. Thus, a shared culture of ‘operate first, innovate later’ is born.

Why strong cultures can often be disabling

There is no doubt that a shared culture is an asset to an organisation and leads to effective execution of tasks that the team actively regards as important. However, it often results in mutual disregard or disinterest in tasks regarded as of lesser direct importance to the cause. In the case of our donkey rescue shelter, the team is united in working towards the outcome that donkeys receive the care that they need, but reflective and analytical tasks – perceived as inactive or indirect in meeting the needs of the cause – are often left to one side. Thus, if a strategy were to be introduced, requiring all members of the team to complete actions such as: data audits, user testing, and participation in discovery workshops, this shared culture of prioritising operation (basic function) over innovation (how to more fulfil the function more effectively) could easily become a roadblock. That is to say, it could result in a team of culturally aligned individuals who are misaligned with the wider strategic vision.

Why we need bring culture and strategy together

This by no means suggests that there is no room for strategy in the charity and third sectors. In fact, one could argue that a charitable organisation with a strong cultural alignment has the ideal conditions to host a transformational project, as the shared culture could be used to increase the chance of success when confronting change or challenges.

Why? The combination of a team with invested interests in the triumph of a project, with accountability on an individual level and teamwork to support each other in meeting the criteria for success, leads to faster and better decision making, no competing priorities, less possibility for scope change and less possibility for the project to derail.

Hence, strategy and culture can be compatible concepts, with the former providing a logic and plan to achieve the goals, and the latter providing the will, enthusiasm, and longevity of results.

In my next post on this topic I’ll cover “How to find a balance between culture and strategy ”


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