'During your studies, you learn the theory behind change management. With the client, you experience getting employees on board with changes.' We talk to Roel van Santen.

Roel LO staan 2

Roel has been a Young Executive at Boer & Croon for a year and a half. He started his first assignment as a project manager in the project & change department of Simac. It is an IT organisation that provides retail, industry, and healthcare solutions. After completing two assignments at Simac, he started work at McCain, the world market leader in frozen potato juice products. Change management plays a significant role in both assignments.

What was Simac's question?

Enthusiastically, Roel begins: 'During my first assignment, I improved and automated services for Simac clients with a colleague. Then Simac asked me to implement an asset management system. At Simac, all service managers were working with their system in which they kept information about customers' IT assets. Each team did this in its way. As a result, there needed to be uniformity and an overview of all IT assets that Simac manages for this customer. Together with a colleague, I was therefore commissioned to implement an asset management system, giving Simac a standardised and unambiguous overview of all IT assets per customer.

How did you proceed?

'First, I engage with employees about the challenges in the organisation. During these initial discussions, employees recognise themselves and the problems outlined, and you notice their need for improvements. When you are later in the process and discuss the changes with the employees, they often need to be more willing to participate in the implementations. They notice at that point that the changes also affect their work. It is therefore important to involve employees throughout the process, explaining what will change for them and what the point of this change is.'

How did you get employees to understand the adjustments at Simac?

'To ensure everyone in the organisation learns about and uses the system, we created an online environment with information about the new system before implementation. This page shows which references there are and why they are important. We then organised a live studio session for the whole organisation. During that session, we explained to all employees what would change and how they should use the new system. This was very instructive but also exciting. Employees asked many critical questions, and not everyone understood the choice of the new system. The session and the online environment helped to get employees on board with the change.'

How do you measure the success of your change?

'At Boer & Croon, we not only come up with the solutions but also help with the realisation. During the process, you measure support for the change through surveys or measuring attendance at a knowledge session. During the system implementation at Simac, we could see how many employees were using the system and whether they were using it correctly. That's how we saw that the implementation was successful.'

For you, what is the biggest challenge of change management?

'I have noticed in recent assignments that logical solutions with ironclad arguments can only sometimes convince employees. There is a good chance that a group of employees would somewhat disagree with the adjustments. The trick is to remain calm despite the resistance and not shy away from talking to these people. With this approach, employees often end up understanding the situation. Gaining support from senior management is essential here.'