The Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (SMCT) is a community based, not-for-profit organisation, committed to serving the needs of Melbourne communities. SMCT have 330 staff of which approximately 30% are part time and 70% are full time employees. They run 9 Cemeteries within the Melbourne Area.
The WHY for Change
Their project slate was varied from a Digital Transformation, Operating Model Change, Cultural Change, new systems such as Document Management System and upgrading their HRIS system to building new buildings and implementing and training Funeral Directors in new technology. This last project was added to the program slate due to Covid when funerals numbers were reduced and people wanted to attend from all over the world.
SMCT had previously not had Change Managers involved on their projects. In 2018 the People and Cultural team and some Leaders within the business attended the 3-day Prosci Course and they were keen to implement that knowledge and their learnings of change into their up-and-coming major projects. They realized that with the amount of change that was about to occur they needed Change Management to ensure their people were prepared, supported and adopted the various changes that were about to occur.
White Cloud Recruitment met with the People and Culture Manager and was involved in sourcing their Change Management team. I asked the SMCT former People & Culture Manager Kristy Siega some questions around the ‘why for change’ at SMCT and how it was received.
Why did SMCT feel they needed Change Management on projects?
With significant funds allocated to major projects over coming years – that impacted employees and required them to embrace and adopt the change – it was essential that project managers worked together with change managers to ensure project success. SMCT recognised that without change managers to share their expertise on ‘what good looks like’ we would have significant issues in getting our employees on board.
What type of projects were Change managers involved in?
Change managers have been involved in all projects impacting people, up front in the early project planning stages. We all know too well the risks and issues of not involving change managers from the get go. Projects ranged from people related, process, technology and development of a new site.
What have been the benefits of having experienced change management on these projects?
We only hire experienced change managers, recognising high capability equals better outcomes for the business and projects. These change managers often supported the business to get the changes over the line – without them it would have failed. This would have resulted in increased business costs. Experienced change managers are astute, have a professional skill-set and unique type of emotional awareness and intelligence you don’t find in other professionals.
How is change management received by staff (initially and now)?
Initially staff didn’t know what change management was. They didn’t know it was a career or that this type of job even existed. Once we explained the purpose of the role and benefits it will bring the organisation and projects, staff were open to seeing what they could do. Now they are one of the most respected teams in the organisation with a credible reputation and seen as top talent the organisation can’t do without.
How would projects have gone NOT having change management applied in the organisation?
Without a doubt they would have failed. For example, possibly a system may have been implemented but people wouldn’t have used it properly, would have continued with work arounds and inefficiencies. Costs would increase as further interventions would have been needed later/down the track.