Change Management: How to Prioritize People

Heather Leachman-Beck

Heather Leachman-Beck

Director, Workplace Innovations

I have over 15 years of experience in design and office interiors ranging in specialties from interior design to customer success. I specialize in enhancing user experience through a design-thinking approach for workplace design and strategies to optimize productivity, communication, and engagement. When I’m not in the office you can find me taking pictures of all the flowers and/or my sweet little girl.


Moving sucks. For everyone. The process is riddled with logistics, fraught with impending deadlines, and downright disruptive. But instead of searching for ways to expedite a move and situate more desks in less space, research shows that working through a deliberate and expertly-guided change management program has the power to impart positive change. We see improvements in overall productivity, general workplace happiness, and culture. True story.

Change Management vs. Move Management

Before we dig further into the magic that is change management, we need to draw a strong line between change and move management. While they both guide and impact moving activities, move management is the tactical side of the project. Driven by a project manager, move management deals with the colossal mountain of tactical to-dos like managing general contractors and timing. Meanwhile, change management takes care of what people need.


The Tangible Benefits and ROI of Change Management

It’s to our mild chagrin that change management never quite caught on as a must-have until there was data to prove the benefits of implementing a program alongside a move. Regardless, we’re still elated to say that taking care of people is highly beneficial in the long run. There’s a true history and financial impact of change management that simply says the happier your people are, the more successful your projects are. 

One of the leading pioneers in the space is Prosci. Not only do they offer the best industry practitioner and advanced certifications, they collect and crunch data that equips us with cold, hard facts. Alongside all members of the Steelcase ARC (Applied Research + Consulting) team, I have been trained by Prosci to keep us perfectly in step with Steelcase standards and round out the Hyphn full-service move program. 

Plus, we have access to articles like, Why Change Management that helps us to demonstrate the sheer importance of change management. “Prosci’s correlation data from over 2,000 data points and ten years,” the article says, “shows that initiatives with excellent change management are six times more likely to meet objectives than those with poor change management.”

Where Change Management Comes Into the Picture

Like move management, change management is most effective when a plan is implemented from the very beginning. While every change management program should be customized and completely tailored to each client, here’s a taste of the list of activities that might accompany a medium-sized company move:

  1. Verify that the appropriate resources are available.
    Designate a change management lead, a project manager, and a member of the executive or leadership team to support the activities and help facilitate communication with their team members.

  2. Figure out the level of risk to the organization. How big is this change?
    If the level of risk is low (for example, there will simply be new snacks in the office), change management can simply help you sort out a few details. It’s important to think about what’s currently available, what’s the protocol around this change, how to conduct a quick all-hands meeting, then call it a day. But if the level of risk is higher, like it might be in a moving situation, everything changes. The sheer amount of work and type is incredibly different. Facilitating manager workshops, introducing employees to current and consistently-updated information, giving them a platform for asking questions, and gathering input might frame the beginnings of change management.

  3. Understand how different departments are affected.
    We can help your company draw up a plan that ensures all departments are in the know about how they will be personally affected and how they’ll be supported throughout the entire process.

  4. Gather info, create charts, understand baseline. Create plan going forward. Execute!
    Ensuring you’re fully prepared before change starts to roll out helps to greatly mitigate risk, allows management teams to answer questions in a timely manner, and keeps people abreast of the change and—dare we say—anticipatory of it.

  5. Stick with it.
    Change management should continue to be in effect long after the change actually happens. Continuously reinforcing change and consistently support it is crucial until it starts to reinforce itself.

In the end, recentering people throughout any company-wide change not only makes a difference in your profit centers, but can have true power to improve the lives of the people who walk through the front doors every morning. That, to us, is what it’s all about. Interested in discovering how change management can help your people? Get in touch!

ArticlesCraig Hawker