At the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) International Fundraising Conference this past weekend, speaker Marcia Cone led “Waves of Change,” a session on change management.  Her point about timing is the one that stuck with me the most.  She says it takes 60 to 90 days to really implement change, and three to six months for the change to truly become the new norm.

That sounds accurate to me. When I think about an individual change, like starting to exercise regularly, it seems impossible and frustrating the first few weeks. When the heck am I going to fit in exercise around working, caring for a small child, and attempting to have a life? Fast forward three months, and if I don’t make it to the gym, I’m cranky. My body and my mind crave the outlet, and I’m fully on board with this change.

The same applies to change in the workplace. Right now, Abila is moving to Office 365 for document management. My department has been using Google Drive for the past 18 months, and, gosh darn it, I LOVE Google Drive. Office 365 is a disruptive change for me.

The leaders of this change have to consider the time it will take for me and my teammates to adopt this new system. They’re prepping us for it by showing the benefits, clearly communicating the timeline, sharing bite-sized information about the new system, telling us the migration plan. With all that, I may not be excited about learning to navigate a new system, but I’m sold on it. I’m ready to accept this change, ready for the learning curve, and eager for it to become the new norm.

If you are making a change in your organization, like moving to a new document sharing system or adopting new fundraising software, keep Marcia’s 60 to 90 day adoption timeline and three to six month new norm timeline in mind. Be ready for it to feel rocky in the early days. Know that it’s normal. Your change isn’t failing; it’s going through its normal maturation process. Keep your eye on the goal, help your team see the benefits, and understand the time needed to transform this change into a habit. You can do it!