Category Archives: Culture

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.

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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.

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.

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

Communication in a Digital Age

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The demographics of the workforce have changed over the last several decades. The ways that most organizations communicate with their people have not.

In 2007, a study showed that seventy four percent of business communicators said that communications within their organizations are done virtually the same today as they were years ago. (Deloitte, Survey of International Business Communicators, 2007). Even though this data is a few years old, it still rings true today.

That same study showed that three quarters of professional business communicators actually believe that their communication methods are cell phoneineffective or only slightly effective in today’s day and age. And sadly, most of them admit that they don’t even really understand the communication preferences of the more tech savvy members of the workforce.

Workers of all ages, if they’re technologically savvy, want to see a full range of communication types – not just your typical newsletter, posters or even email campaigns. If you make new vehicles available, people will use them. Not using technology is missing a huge opportunity.

Newer tech savvy workers want information at their fingertips, on demand. They are communal – they connect and form groups with software and virtual environments. They want to improvise and create networks on the fly to meet issues. And they are mobile, linking in anywhere at any time.

Technology can be especially useful for communicating and engaging people during times of significant organizational change. During change, people commonly seek to re-establish their own sense of support, understanding, and control.

People naturally seek community and inclusion during times of change so they don’t feel like they are going it alone. Social networking sites and controlled environments for people to connect can help people develop a sense of support.

In the midst of change, people crave information, often filling in the blanks so that they can fit themselves and their future into the new context. Wikis and other human intelligence aggregators help people develop deeper understanding.

When an organization is going through change, people look to regain what they perceive as a loss of control. They often think that change is happening “to” them. By networking and actively searching for information on demand, people feel like they are taking control of their situation which helps them navigate through change.

CRA

CRA

While technology can be an important communication tool, don’t forget that people still prefer to interact face to face with people. People can be engaged through face to face interactions much more successfully than any other way. What leaders do is still more important than what they say. And trust is still a foundation that can’t be shaken. But technology can be a tremendous communications tool. Used properly, it can help inform and share information, engage employees, create communities, and align leaders

The Digital Evolution Within Organizations

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Many of our clients are evolving to meet the needs of digitally savvy customers. The ubiquitous nature of technology makes it easy for customers and organizations to connect, changing the way almost every organization does business. And if the way an organization interacts with customers is changing, it almost certainly is changing the way it operates inside of the business.

Technology opens up great opportunities for organizations – it makes it easier for organizations to identify customers, keep in touch with customers, and develop deeper relationships with customers. Technology also, however, poses challenges for organizations– it makes it possible for customers to share what they really think (good, bad or indifferent), to comparison shop, and to be more educated about their choices.cell phone

The digital age requires organizations to always be on top of their game. If they aren’t, there is another organization that is willing to take their place. Your customers can easily find those willing replacements, and those organizations can find your customers.
There are a host of changes that come about when an organization goes digital. How organizations identify, nurture, and serve customers is different today than it was 10 years ago. And that means how organizations are run to create different “outputs” needs to change too.

We have several clients that have been successful brick and mortal retailers for a long time. Those companies are now learning how to be online retailers. The shift to meeting customer needs online and digitally ripples through everything they do – pricing, logistics, assortment, promotions, inventory management, etc.… Every part of these very large organizations will look different in a few years because of their evolution into digital merchants.

So how do organizations make such a shift? It requires a lot of vision and a great plan, some strong project management, and a commitment to managing change for the people who need to work differently. To expect people who have been successful working in the old way to magically be successful in the new way is not realistic.change-pocket-guide-app-icon

If the people in pricing, logistics, assortment, promotions, inventory management, and so on are not ready, willing and able to work differently, the endeavor will take a long time to get off of the ground. And that is just enough time for competitors to step in and meet their customers’ needs.

The Future is Here, Are We Ready?

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Bob Dylan once said, “There is nothing so stable as change.” Change is all around us, impacting every aspect of business from our workforce and our technologies, to the world in which we work.
When I first joined the workforce a few decades ago, I was surprised by the number of people I met who had over 30 years of service with the same organization. They worked traditional business hours and then left the office (and their work) behind to return home to their families.

Today, statistics show that younger workers have an average tenure of only 3 years of service. And the traditional workday has given way to a world of 24/7 global connectivity where “the barriers between work and life have all but been eliminated.”
The makeup of our workforce is also changing. A 2012 Economic Intelligence Unit Study shows that by the year 2030, 50% of the workforce will be made up of contingent workers (e.g., self-employed, independent contractors, temporary workers).

Today, Millennials make up over half of our workforce and they have vastly different expectations than the previous generations. This changing workforce is on the receiving end of the shift in the balance of power. With all the transparency brought about by LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and other social media, employees have greater control over navigating their careers and fulfilling their goals of finding flexibility and purpose in life.

Not only is the workforce changing, but so is the overall job market. Some jobs are going away, while new jobs are on the horizon. According to a US Department of Labor report, “65% of today’s students will be in jobs that don’t yet exist.” Already, we have seen a proliferation of jobs that didn’t exist even 10 years ago, such as App Developer, Chief Listening Officer, Data Scientist, or Cloud Engineer. Are we ready for some of the new jobs that Fast Company predicts will be in place by 2025? Where will “Corporate Disorganizers” or “Digital Detox Specialists” fit into our future organizations?

These are just a few examples of how the world of work is changing. The question is: are we ready for all the changes that are coming at us at an ever-increasing pace? According to Stephen Hawking, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” So, how can we become more intelligent as business leaders and learn how to adapt to change?

It’s not enough to simply be aware of the trends. We need to take a more active role to understand these changes, prepare for their impacts, and in some cases, reinvent our organizations to get ahead of them.
Just as the floppy disc has given way to new cloud storage solutions, so too must our organizations evolve to meet the needs of our changing workforce. We should take a good hard look at our organizational structures, systems, and processes to make sure we are preparing for the future, versus perpetuating what might have worked in the past.

For example, how will we recruit, attract and retain employees in a world where ‘job hopping’ is the new normal? How will we modify annual performance review processes to meet the immediate feedback needs of the new generations? How will we manage all the information that is available to us without being crushed by its sheer volume and complexity? How will we leverage new technologies to train our workforce for skills that don’t yet exist? And how will we develop our future leaders in a world where the pace of change is more rapid than at any other time in history?

Even among these challenges, according to the Global Human Capital Trends 2015 report, Deloitte researchers found that the number one challenge facing business leaders in this “new world of work” is culture and engagement, (with 87% of organizations citing it as one of their top business challenges). “An organization’s culture—which can be loosely defined as “the way things work around here”—is increasingly visible for all the world to see.” How will our leaders create cultures that drive employee engagement in this age of changing expectations and increased transparency?

These are just some examples of the challenges that organizations are facing as the world around us changes. While this list of changes and challenges may seem daunting, as with many things in life, it’s less about what is happening, but more about how we approach and react to it.

The single most important thing we can do is have a mindset that welcomes and embraces change. Having a competency for getting ahead of change and managing it effectively will continue to be a source of competitive advantage. Arguably, those who view change as an opportunity will be the ones who succeed in this ever-changing world.

As Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change.”

Change is here to stay. Are we ready?

 

[1] http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/tenure_09182014.htm

[1] Global Human Capital Trends 2015:  Leading in the New World of Work, Deloitte University Press

[1] Global Human Capital Trends 2015:  Leading in the New World of Work, Deloitte University Press

[1] http://www.dol.gov/oasam/programs/history/herman/reports/futurework/report.htm

[1] http://www.fastcoexist.com/3015652/futurist-forum/8-new-jobs-people-will-have-in-2025

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.

Training Trends

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Learners today are faced with many challenges, one of which is short attention spans. Thanks to the large amount of information available on the Internet instantaneously, Smartphones, and people’s busy schedules, an adult’s attention span can be reduced to mere minutes.

Keeping someone’s attention during training is extremely challenging when most trainings are hours, even days in length. In most cases, a normal attention span for an adult is approximately 15-20 minutes. What is one to do when there are several hours of material that need to be covered?

Here are a few things that may help you when planning your next training:

Learning Format. Many people fall into the routine of showing PowerPoint slide after PowerPoint slide. People have seen these bulleted slides over and over again. Fewer slides tend to be better. Make sure to mix up your fonts and use unusual colors. You want them to be enjoyable to look at. Can your slides can be read from the back of the room? There is nothing worse than being in the back and not being able to see what is on the screen. Want to mix it up? Try Prezi, easel.ly, or Powtoon. These are only a few options, there are many more online that offer an alternative to the standard Power Point. The key is to have great visual impact and to capture the audience’s attention.

Social Interaction. Most adult learners prefer social interaction with the group versus being lectured to from the front of the conference room. At the start of your session, have an ice breaker so people can get to know one another. This will help during the rest of the training when you have small group discussion. Breaking up training by having frequent question and answer sessions is something a trainer can do to keep the attention on the material. Dividing into small groups where the adult learners can integrate their life experiences, new ideas, and use their existing knowledge is a win-win situation for the trainer and the attendees.

Break Time. Everybody needs a break. Be respectful of your students. Frequent breaks for the restroom, snacks (fruit, nuts, mints, etc.), a moment to stretch the legs, and also to check their email will be much appreciated. People are accustomed to being able to check in with their work emails many times throughout the day and also to touch base with family as needed. If you have a no cell phone policy during training then make sure during break times, people know they can check their phones.

End of Session Survey. At the end of your session, pass out a survey. Be prepared for honest answers so you can make your presentation better the next time. Many people have presented before and can offer helpful tips. Have an open mind about the change you may need to incorporate.
Keeping any sized group attentive for a significant period of time is a difficult task. Planning extensively, incorporating eye catching slides, having your students interact with each other, and allowing for breaks will help you keep your group engaged.

Website used: trainingindustry.com