Impacted Groups are the people who must do something differently as a result of the change. “Different” might mean a new process, a new technology, a new office location – or they might simply need to doing something that has always
been part of their job. Because the change will most directly and dramatically affect Impacted Groups, it is critical that they are involved in every stage. Of course, preparing this group is not new to change management efforts, but the MAGIC is getting them involved early on.

In their book The Flight of the Buffalo, James Belasco and Ralph Stayer wrote, “Change is hard because people
overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.” Impacted Groups, in particular, need to be clear on what is changing, why it is changing and what the problem is with NOT changing. Your communications to this group should contain this balanced messaging and emphasize the benefits of the change – for customers, the company or the individual employee.

Even before you meet or communicate with your Impacted Groups, think about and anticipate their emotional response to change and their feelings about letting go of the old and embracing the new. Gauging the reaction of Impacted Groups to the change can be done in a number of ways; focus groups, surveys, social events and user acceptance tests are all effective in understanding their attitude toward the change – both positive and negative.

Here are some tips for preparing Impacted Groups:

  • Show up in the workplace to gather feedback. For example, hold impromptu focus groups in the cafeteria, buy Impacted Groups lunch or offer a coffee gift card for participating in data collection efforts.
  • Training, webinars, tip guides, FAQs, tip sheets, and documented process visuals are a great way to help them prepare.
  • Be clear and instructive in your messaging. Tell people exactly how they need to behave, what they need to do, and who to call if they need help.
  • Most organizations provide training before the change. Consider offering additional training or Q&A sessions for several weeks after implementation when users can ask more detailed questions.

Most importantly, the Impacted Groups need to be – and feel – prepared for the change. What creative techniques have you used to get your Impacted Groups on board?

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