Category Archives: Change Management Competency

Why Change Management Fails

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When organizations go about changing, the hardest work is almost always related to people. Getting people ready, willing and able to work differently is easier said than done. Defining a vision is important. But translating that vision into real change is an entirely different challenge that is where the rubber really meets the road.

Too often, we see well-meaning change management programs fail. A successful change management program ensures that a few critical things necessary to change an organization are in place.

First and foremost, successful change management ensures that there is active and visible sponsorship. That means leaders are engaged in the change in a way that people can actually see. Among other things, leaders need to be present (literally and figuratively) at key meetings, say the right things at the right times, prioritize meetings with project team members, ask informed questions about the change and make efforts to be available for informal conversations.

Second, successful change management ensures frequent and open communications about why the change is needed. People understand why the change is important and how the company, customers, and they themselves will benefit. Effective communication requires repetition, consistency, and transparency. Appealing to both the head and the heart helps too. A need that can be felt emotionally rather than just understood logically is more apt to spur action.hqdefault

Third, successful change management ensures a structured approach to managing the people elements of the transition. There are periods of assessing the impacted stakeholders and potential areas of resistance. There is an understanding of how to manage the individual transition that people will experience. There is an approach or methodology that provides a means for planning the work and carrying out the change management activities. And the approach includes work to help reinforce and sustain the new behaviors after the change is initially implemented.

Lastly, successful change management ensures that there are dedicated resources to manage the change. What projects succeed without people focused on getting it done? Dedicated resources and funding for managing the people elements of the change ensure that the work is the primary focus for some person or group of people. When the organizational change elements of a project are left to the project team without any specific focused resources, it is understandable that they fall to the bottom of the priority list.

Knowing these critical success factors for change management is the first step in actually putting those things into place so that a change management program can thrive in your organization.

The DO Phase – Executing Your Plan

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By: Annie Ayvazian
Once you have assessed needs and developed a change management plan, you are prepared to execute that plan. This involves developing your communication materials and preparing your organization to transition to the future state.
The “do” phase consists of 2 key activities: (1) launch communications and (2) transition work.

 
1. Launching communications: Now that you have developed your communication plan, it’s time to prepare content and materials to ensure people understand the project and why it’s important. This includes crystalizing key messages into an elevator speech, developing a communications network to champion the change, and providing answers to frequently asked questions.

2. Transitioning work: To effectively transition work, you need to identify the key activities required to implement the change successfully. This includes assessing readiness, defining training needs, and developing a workforce transition plan to prepare people for the new work and new skills required in the future state.

 
A Few Change Guides Tools – Click on the icon to see the tools.

do-pie-highlighted

Why is the “Do” Phase So Important?
The “do” phase is the phase where your planning turns to action and where you connect with the stakeholders who are impacted by your project. By crafting and communicating your key messages and determining the activities needed to transition work, you are preparing your organization to implement change successfully.

The PLAN Phase – A Critical Roadmap to Success

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by Shannon Stautberg
Every successful project starts with a common factor – a plan. Whether it’s the construction of a new house, the implementation of an enterprise-wide system or the creation of a piece of art, a plan is critical to a project’s success. The same is true for projects that involve change management. Getting people ready, willing and able to work in new ways requires a plan.

Planning change management activities requires you to do two things: (1) assess your needs and (2) develop a plan.

1. Assessing Needs: Identifying stakeholders, evaluating if leaders are aligned around a common vision and estimating how much effort will be required to help people understand and adopt a change are necessary to steps in defining the change management activities that should occur.

2. Developing a Plan: Developing a change management plan requires you to map out communications, leadership involvement and workforce transition activities. An effective plan also identifies who will perform these activities and when they should occur.

A Few Change Guides Planning Tools
Click on the icon below to see two of our frequently used “Planning” tools.

Plan Pie Highlighted

The Stakeholder Analysis defines the people who are critical to a successful change and
assesses their current and desired levels of support.

The Change Management Workplan lists the change management activities, estimating effort required and tracking progress.

 

Why is “Planning” So Important?

All too often, people make the mistake of skipping the “plan” phase. Instead, they jump feet first into doing the work they think should be done to get people on board with a change. While taking the time to engage in thoughtful planning does take time and resources, creating a plan is much more than an exercise. It’s the tactical road map to achieving the ultimate vision and goals of the project. Without a plan, you’re more likely to hit roadblocks and unnecessary detours. Don’t take shortcuts…take the time to plan!

Curious About What CCMP Is?

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CCMP. What do these letters mean and why should you care? CCMP stands for Certified Change Management Professional. The Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) has been working hard to develop industry recognized certification programs. The CCMP designation is the first in a series of change management certifications to recognize the accomplishments of change professionals around the world.

Starting on May 15, 2016, CCMP will be available to everyone for application. You can go to www.myccmp.org to find out more about CCMP.

Why are we doing this? In a recent profession-wide survey on the future of Change Management we asked: “What additional professional development could you use…?”
“A global, credible, consistent method for certifying change professionals.”
“An accepted certification process … that is recognized as legitimate.”
“…a certification to help organizations assess who is qualified to be a change practitioner.”

In response, development began on the CCMP program which will:

• Be globally recognized across countries and industries
• Enable change management practitioners to demonstrate they have met specified criteria and achieved a level of understanding of and familiarity with change management standard practice
• Support organizations in establishing good change management practice through improved recruitment and clear career development paths for change management practitioners
• Advance change management as a profession by clarifying the distinctive nature and value of the change practitioner role

Training and CCMP481c16f8-593c-45fc-9866-55f282b31848

• CCMP is not a training program itself, nor does it or ACMP offer training. The training you take to fulfill the required 21 hours is up to you. Any instructor-led (classroom or online) change management training that aligns with The Standard will fulfill this requirement. To help you identify courses that meet the requirements, ACMP developed the Qualified Education Provider (QEP) program (click Find Courses in the bottom right). The courses listed have been ‘pre-qualified’ as aligned with The Standard and they count towards the 21 hours you need.

• If you took training with a provider which is not a QEP it may still qualify. In the CCMP application you will be asked to submit a description of the course with an outline and learning objectives so ACMP can evaluate the fit between the content and The Standard. If you are unsure whether it will be a match, download and review The Standard and conduct a comparison to determine if the course content is aligned with the five process groups.

 

 

Let Us Tell You a Story

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by Beckie Schretter and Gina Giannitelli
Carol, an employee with over 30 years of service, deeply loves her work and truly wants what is best for her organization. She believes in the mission and values of the organization and has deep connections with the patrons. The director, Bob, was hired several years ago to help increase profitability, but hasn’t been successful. When Bob presents a new revenue creation idea to board leadership, Carol publicly questions the mission and vision alignment of the idea. A few months later Carol is called into Bob’s office and is handed a letter explaining her
position is being eliminated due to financial pressures. She feels deeply betrayed, angry and concerned for the organization she loves. Bob avoids Carol in the days that follow. She grapples with whether she is the victim of retribution. She decides to write a letter to the board…

Are you wondering or even making up how this story ends?

At the ACMP conference, storytelling was a theme throughout book pictureseveral presentations. Research
shows you use more of your brain when listening to a story, far more than when you listen to a
slide presentation or read a written communication. As Susan Weinschenk Ph.D. describes “…
because you are having a richer brain event, you enjoy the experience more, understand the information more deeply, and retain it longer.” How can we use stories in change?

Use them to create the case for change, connecting the head and the heart. Stories provide a refreshing break from data filled presentations or memos. Research by Paul Zak shows stories create a tension that sustains attention, which leads to shared emotions. Shared emotions lead to mimicked feelings and an increased trust and willingness to take action.

Recognize and challenge stakeholder stories throughout the process. Researcher Brene Brown reminds us stakeholders create stories that drive behavior. She observed “the brain needs to know the story” and fills in needed details. Resilience is enhanced when people challenge the
truth of their own storytelling.

Storytelling inspires change and helps people move up the commitment curve. When preparing the case for change or drafting a stakeholder communication, consider what story could illustrate the point and grab attention. When leaders are reluctant to share information, remind them people will fill in the blanks with their own stories. When confronted with counterproductive behavior, ask questions and challenge the story driving that behavior. What is the story behind your change?

Tips for Creating a Change Capable Culture

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by Shannon Stautberg

While change is hard for any organization, investing time and energy into thoughtfully creating a change capable culture will help ensure your people are prepared to successfully transition to new ways of working. Some tactical things you can do to help ensure your organization is on the path to being change capable are below.

 Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! Establishing regular and meaningful communication helps employees know what’s coming, why it’s coming and how it might impact them. A lack of communication can breakdown employee trust, reducing the likelihood that they will get on board with any change. Electronic newsletters, posting current information on office bulletin boards and hosting question & answer coffees with leadership are some of the ways you can keep the lines of communication open with your employees.

 Define and Communicate Roles and Responsibilities: People need to know what they are supposed to be doing before, during and (ideally) after the change. If one or more of your employees is unclear about what they are expected to do on a daily basis, this can quickly lead to frustration…frustration that can spread throughout an office like wildfire! Nip that frustration in the bud by ensuring each employee has been given a job description and that their direct boss regularly checks in with them to address questions or concerns regarding their role or responsibilities.

 Encourage Employee Collaboration: Establishing a culture that values collaboration as one of its hallmarks will help ensure your employees are open to and prepared for change. One of the ways this can be done is by establishing a well-structured mentor program that allows experienced team members to informally share lessons-learned with colleagues that are new to the team. Regularly recognizing employees that have effectively worked together to complete important projects or tasks is another way to promote ongoing collaboration. This can be done at team meetings or via organization newsletters.

 Build Trust by Caring for the Individual: One of the keystones to creating a change capable culture is trust in management. Leaders that sincerely care about the professional success and personal well being of their employees are much more likely to earn the trust of their employees. In addition to praising a job well done, it’s also important for management to get to know their team members – their aspirations, passions and interests. Being flexible with employee needs outside of the office, while still meeting the needs of the business, can make your team more likely to be there when you need them to go the extra mile at the office. The occasional bagels, donuts for the department can also help build good will. Employees that trust management are much more likely to be ready, willing and able to embrace the change that lies ahead.

While building a change capable culture does take time and effort, the return on that investment will be clear in times of change.

Manager Disengagement and How To Solve It

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Written by Luke Rees

Managers are currently the main factor determining whether other employees are engaged in their work. According to Gallup’s most recent survey,[1] managers account for up to 70 percent variance in employee engagement in the US.

What can be done to make managers more accountable to their employees, and also to ensure that they themselves are committed to seeing their workforce enjoy coming to work?

In a separate study from Gallup[2], just 35 percent of U.S. managers were found to be engaged in their jobs, and this cycle of dissatisfaction is taking its toll on productivity. Estimates stand in the area of $450 billion to $550 billion annually of how much money disengagement is costing the American economy.

It’s time companies instilled a more evidence-based culture of accountability, with managers setting the prime example.

Managers Often Fail To Recognise The Problem

Management require a skillset that is not as readily defined as other staff roles, hence why great managers are so rare. They include skills like motivating others, building trusting relationships, and making unbiased decisions for the good of their team.

Due to the elusiveness of these skills and the difficulty that lies in judging if someone has them, managers are frequently miscast. The majority promoted to management positions were typically high performers in their professional field. However, they have never been given formal training on how to take on a leadership role, and have therefore never been responsible for engaging others. In fact, they don’t even recognise the importance of employee engagement and how focusing on this issue can greatly improve productivity.

Make Your Managers Especially Great Communicators

Frank and frequent communication is the foundation of any strong relationship, and relationship-building is the key to management. Hence, the single most effective way for managers to improve their relationships with employees, is to create a culture of open and honest communication.

Simple as it sounds, this is not an easy task. To meet workers’ needs and to ensure each individual feels that leaders hear their opinions, companies need to establish working channels to gather feedback from all levels of the organization.

Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Hold regular employee-focused meetings and encourage all employees to contribute to the discussion.
  • Have an ‘open-door’ policy with regards to employee feedback. This doesn’t mean simply keeping your door open during office hours, but also actively interacting with employees and getting to know them personally.

Make Your Managers More Accountable  

Accountability is probably the main factor helping to make mangers better at their jobs. Self-awareness is essential for building an environment of trust and accountability, as emotionally and socially aware managers are generally able to build the strongest relationships with others.

To help make self-reflection habitual in your organisation, all employees should feel like they can give guiltless feedback when a manager is not pulling their weight. Manager feedback surveys,[3] for example, are a useful and anonymous tool for doing this. In a reverse of the performance appraisal, this survey allows employees to voice grievances anonymously, whilst creating a clear culture of accountability based on data insights.

Managers should be constantly thinking about how to improve the performance of others, and they do that best when they are held accountable to their own performance.

 

[1] http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/182321/employees-lot-managers.aspx

[2] http://www.gallup.com/services/182138/state-american-manager.aspx

[3] https://thymometrics.com/blog/2016/01/08/real-time-engagement-part-1-the-managers-perspective/

 

Culture, Learning, and Change Go Hand in Hand

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According to a Forbes article*, there are five keys to building a successful learning organization.

1. Remember that corporate learning is “informal” and HR doesn’t own it
2. Promote and reward expertise
3. Unleash the power of experts
4. Demonstrate the value of formal training
5. Allow people to make mistakes

This is a great list and directly applies to culture. It’s “how we do things around here”. It’s reflected in what people say and how they act on a daily basis. The cultures that display these five elements have an advantage when it comes to organizational change.

Remember that corporate learning is “informal” and HR doesn’t own it. This “informal” aspect of learning is an attitude that “I can learn something new every day.” These cultures use teachable moments. It’s as simple as asking a question real time or watching someone else doing the task right before you do it. That attitude translates to an appetite for change.8-constants-clipart

Promote and reward expertise – For projects, using Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) pays dividends. These experts are approachable and knowledgeable. Recognizing SMEs publicly, presenting them as role models and leaders demonstrates that having and sharing knowledge is valued.

Unleash the power of experts – It takes a village to drive successful change. Giving SMEs the support and resources they need to motivate teams, share their expertise, and develop others builds momentum and prepares people for an upcoming change.

Demonstrate the value of formal training – Most projects include formal training to prepare impacted employees for a change in their job responsibilities. To best prepare for a change, it’s critical that the management team places formal training as a high priority. Attendance should be required and tracked. After employees start working in new ways, sharing employee stories of how that training prepared users for the changes reinforces the value of training and communicates that implementation has happened.

Allow people to make mistakes – Anyone who has experienced a “go live” on new processes and/or technology knows there is no such thing as a “perfect go live”. It’s important to build the expectation that employees won’t know everything forward and backward day one. Recognize the learning curve inherent in the change and the likelihood that mistakes will happen as employees transition from old ways to new.

Creating a learning organization culture takes leadership commitment, a strategy, plan, and resources. In return, the organization and employees experience many benefits, one of them is being better prepared for change.

*www.forbes.com 5 Keys to Building a Learning Organization by Josh Bersin 1/18/2012

Engaging Your Audience in Conversations About Change

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As a first-generation American, language has always been an important part of my life. English was my second of five languages — we spoke two languages at home and I studied the remaining three at school. Having lived in eight different cities (seven in the US), I’ve also been fascinated by how differently we can all speak the same language.

So naturally, when I attended the Change Management 2015 conference in Las Vegas, I noticed a recurring theme of language in the context of change management. How you approach a conversation, as well as the language and vehicles you use, can impact the success of getting your message across to your audience.

As Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
Understanding your audience and speaking their language will help you as you work on a specific change initiative. For example, if the leaders and sponsors of your initiative are concerned about speed and quality, then it is important to use that same language in discussions about how change management helps achieve those objectives.

While this approach is beneficial in the context of a specific change effort, it can also be helpful in talking about the overall concept of change management. Many change management professionals have experienced resistance from sponsors and leaders due to a lack of clear understanding about what change management is. Given this, we were fortunate to have a general session one morning dedicated to the topic of how to create a compelling conversation about change.

During this session, we were challenged to come up with a metaphor to explain change management using language that might resonate with a potential sponsor. Here are some of the ideas we came up with at our tables using the prompt: Change Management is like…
A Marathon – Change efforts are often long-term initiatives with goals requiring a great deal commitment, training, and preparation. Change agents are like the volunteers at the race, providing help along the way and working to improve the endurance and health of the organization.
A Fairy Tale – Fairy tales generally start in one place and end in another. There’s always a journey and some challenges along the way, but change management provides the cast of characters to help you get to “happily ever after.”
Climbing a Mountain – Change management provides the right tools and the right commitment to get to the top of the mountain. Once you reach the top, you can see the new vision more clearly. But then, you have to sustain the change on the way down the mountain to ensure that employees are continuing to work in new ways and that the change is fully adopted.
WD40 – Change management helps create a smooth transition and reduce the friction that often accompanies change.
Preparing Your Family for a Move – Change management helps you understand where you are going, and provides a plan to help your people get there. And with change agents guiding the journey, your family can enjoy happy dinner conversations.
A Personal Trainer – Change management provides coaching and guidance along the journey to overall fitness. You may experience some discomfort during the process, and you’re going to have to sweat; however, the trainer guides you through the work needed to prepare your people to achieve success.
Flying a Plane – Change management helps you clarify your destination, provides a suitcase full of tools to help you manage the transition, and offers the expertise to help you avoid or smooth out any turbulence that may be encountered along the way.
A Midwife – In this metaphor, the organization is the mother and the change is the baby. You may be able to deliver the baby on your own, but not without incurring additional risk. Change management can help avoid a c-section.
Water on a Waterslide – ‘You can get down the slide without it — but it’s gonna hurt’. Change management helps achieve speed of implementation with minimal friction.

As you can see, we had a lot of fun with this exercise, and the responses were as varied as our potential audiences might be. The key takeaway is to take the time to understand your audience and do your best to speak their language so that your message will resonate. And mixing in a little humor along the way can help minimize resistance and keep your audience engaged in the conversation.

Learning About Change Takes a Change

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If you’ve never done it before, applying organizational change strategies and tactics is a change. It takes new thinking and new behaviors compared to what you’ve done in the past. Our company’s philosophy is that successful organizations lead and manage change in a strategic, thoughtful, planned and proactive way. If you’ve never approached organizational change that way before and now are trying to – it’s a change for you and those you work with.

Clients come to us because they are trying to learn a new or better way to lead and manage change. They are trying to learn the strategic, process, and tool based approach that we teach and apply. Some have used successful strategies in the past but they are often one off attempts at communicating or involving stakeholders. When they reach out to us, they’ve realized that people issues too easily fall through the cracks resulting in slipped timelines and underachievement.

As we work with new clients or immerse trainees in our approach during certification training, we often witness an example of individual change and transition. It’s a transition of knowing how to do something today then learning how to do things differently and applying that learning, changing behaviors as a result. This is a journey they hope to help others make. Here’s how we see their journey from our side of the table:

The awareness stage – they have identified that the current state doesn’t work (the current state defined as being reactive or negligent regarding people issues during change as witnessed by things like lack of communication, lack of sponsorship, lack of involvement and strong resistance). They have identified that there is a better way, a future state, as defined as using a strategic, planned and proactive approach to organization change.

The understanding stage – they are seeking to understand what a strategic, planned and proactive approach to organization change looks like. They increase their understanding by reading books, combing our website, and asking questions.

The desire stage – they have the motivation and put plans in place to do things differently. They make personal and financial commitments and see the “what’s in it for me”. They commit to training and/or hire us for consulting services.

The adoption stage, they start using Change Guides strategies and tools either by working with our consultants, applying what they have learned from Change Guides training or by reading our Change Management Pocket Guide and The Eight Constants of Change. They have changed their behaviors and are adopting a new way of working.

As they use and adapt the tools and processes over time, they will enter the internalization stage. In this stage, workers have made the new work part of their regular routine and have even improved upon it.

Like with any individual transition, it can be challenging to learn new ways to approach your work. I tell clients that the first time they use a Change Readiness Audit, it will probably feel a little uncertain and uncomfortable which is what happens to individuals when they are transitioning. I tell them, “That’s OK”. They will get more comfortable the second, third and fourth time they use the tool, just like workers who get training and practice are more comfortable when they are asked to work differently.

Organizational change comes down to individual transition. It’s important to remember how that feels, how it takes time, and that it applies to all of us no matter what we are trying to change.