Change, whether as a result from external influences such as the community, funding, and regulation, or from internal forces, like instructional initiatives or student population changes, is common in the environment of a school district. If not managed correctly, change can catch some people by surprise and can result in missed opportunities for a district and its staff and students.
Some people think successful change is brought about by chance. But in reality, it’s brought about by enacting proper processes and procedures. These processes and procedures make up what is called “change management”.
K-12 inventory management is quickly becoming a priority to apply change management processes to. State standardized testing, funding requirements for programs like E-rate, compliance with state mandates, and the prevalence of 1:1 initiatives all push the boundaries of how school districts have operated in the past. It’s impossible to meet the demands of these initiatives with past processes and procedures.
Typically we see districts create sustainable change management surrounding their inventory control initiatives by focusing on these six areas: leadership, a shared vision, skills, resources, incentives, and strategy. If one of these components is missing, change will not occur properly, and your district may fall into the all-too-familiar traps of failure to launch, confusion, anxiety, frustration, resistance, or false start.
Let’s take a deeper look at each of the six components for sustainable change management, which will prevent these negative consequences from occurring.
The first step in enacting sustainable change management is leadership. Leaders are the shapers and evangelists of your district’s change strategy. They are the main guides in the change process. Without a leader, there is confusion about how proper processes should be carried out, which leads to failure to launch.
As administrators, you’re responsible for providing oversight to anyone who benefits from the district implementing a new inventory management system. Without your guiding hand, how will staff understand the reason for change and its benefits to supporting the district’s mission of providing an education that creates people who will make positive contributions to society?
Leadership also requires the delegation of roles in order to successfully meet the target objectives of your inventory management project. Demonstrate to the key stakeholders and members of your project team how their role and new responsibilities will contribute to a student’s success, better budgeting and planning, higher utilization of existing resources, and increasing the effectiveness of every educational dollar spent.
What does the end result look like? How will it be carried out? Leaders and major district stakeholders must have a shared vision they can communicate to staff. It will be a guiding force throughout the project.
There needs to be a district-wide understanding of the project’s objectives because some procedures are going to require buy-in and support from multiple departments. Without a shared vision and agreed priority among key leaders, confusion will occur, as each leader fights for their own idea of what the inventory procedures will look like and who is responsible.
Start developing a shared vision and program foundation by identifying your project goals and the most efficient ways to achieve them. Ask for 10 minutes in your district’s pre-scheduled department and principal meetings to communicate this message and gather feedback.
You might have the leaders and the shared vision, but you must also have the skills to carry out proper change. Skills can be technical or interpersonal (communication, political savvy, advocacy, public speaking) in nature.
Anxiety occurs when you have people unprepared or ill-equipped to do the work necessary for the project. How can you carry out a great vision if you don’t have the right skills to perform the task?
In order to acquire the skills necessary to effectively execute inventory management procedures and oversight, you and your staff need to be properly trained. Identify what skills your project requires and then recognize staff members in your district that have those necessary skills. If you’re district is lacking people with a certain skill, you’ll need to come up with a mitigation process. Will you fill that gap with a consultant or someone from another department?
Staff, time, and tools are three of the most important resources you need to enact change management within your district. How could you implement a new initiative if you don’t have allocated time, tools that increase efficiencies, or the proper staff?
Identify what resources your project will require before implementing change. For staff members involved in the inventory project, it creates frustration if you attempt to work toward your goals without these resources, and that frustration could cause the project to come to a halt.
What’s in it for me? As you and other leaders look to follow through on procedures, you’ll need some way to satisfy key contributors and stakeholders of the project.
Without any incentives (which could be a reward or celebration) for your staff along the way, what impetus do they have to adopt the change? Think about opportunities to show how successful use of the system or proper adoption new procedures is meeting the goal of the project. Incentives will provide your staff with a sense of achievement and intellectual excitement. A lack of incentives means you may encounter resistance, even from those who you thought might’ve been your best allies because they see nothing in the changes for them.
Do you have any timeline or directive to keep your project on track and at the forefront of your staff’s minds? You create this through an action plan or strategy, which breaks your entire project into simple tasks that can be easily assigned to staff in the district and managed on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, where necessary
Without a strategy, team members will experience many false starts. They’ll forget important steps as they take off in different directions (or try the same direction over and over again), which will force them to stop their progress to fix the problem. The project will take an exponentially longer time to see success and increase frustration.
Developing a strategic plan with specific action items and quality assurance processes to ensure your inventory management project stays on target.
It is important that districts have the necessary components needed to oversee an inventory management project, including creating your own project team. But rest assured, if you need additional change management support, it’s common to require the help of an outside influence to provide best practices and guidance.
This outside influence can help you build stakeholder commitment to managing the human impact of the new business process, organizational structure, and culture. Another challenge you may encounter is continuing the momentum generated at the beginning of the project. To achieve continued results, you’ll need to identify ongoing milestone goals and continually manage the inventory control program to those goals.
With experience serving over 400 school districts, Hayes Software can help you develop the processes and procedures necessary to manage a successful project. Combining change, program, and performance management strategies with staff professional development, the experts at Hayes will provide you with long-term, actionable plans that lead to a sustainable inventory control program.