Sustaining the change is an important, often overlooked part of the change process. When our major, visible milestones are achieved (e.g., new processes are in place, we enter a new work environment) we have a tendency to close a project out, assuming that the changes in behaviour will persist.
Yet, often, as leadership moves on and members of the change team are reassigned to different work priorities, people revert to old practices and workarounds. One of the ways we can avoid this is to plan what we are going to do to strengthen the change after our major milestones have been reached. This helps us maintain the change and solidify our return on investment.
Our sustainability plan can include:
- Sustainment objectives (e.g., encouraging professional growth over the long term, sustaining a dialogue with employees)
- Our audiences
- An outline of roles and responsibilities related to sustaining the change
- What success looks like and how we will measure it
- Sustainment activities and timeline
Our sustainability plan will be even more critical when the change initiative involves a shift in mindsets or culture, as these take more time to take root.
There are a variety of templates we can use if we choose to do so. One example is based on a sustainability plan developed by the Center for Strategic Change at Public Services and Procurement Canada.
With our plans prepared, we’re ready to implement our change. That’s what we’ll do next.