Category Archives: Training

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 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.

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.

* 5 Keys to Building a Learning Organization by Josh Bersin 1/18/2012

Oh How Organizational Change Management Has Changed…

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Some of the core ideas about human behavior that shape the field of Change Management have been around for over 50 years. But the field itself is relatively young. In the last 20 years, the field has grown and changed tremendously and more is yet to come.

In the mid-90’s, when many of us at Change Guides were just getting our start, big consulting firms like Deloitte Consulting and Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) created Change Management methodologies for the first time. Practitioners read John Kotter and Daryl Conner (ok, so some things haven’t changed) but generally, available resources were limited. There was a lot of experimentation – what works and what doesn’t?

In 2005 when Change Guides formed, experimentation led to best practices and we published the first accessible methodology and toolkit focused on Change Management (The Change Management Pocket Guide, First Edition on Today, ten years after the start of Change Guides, we see a Pocket-2nddifferent landscape in terms of demand, advocacy and available resources.

Demand and advocacy
Then: We heard “what do you do?” Change Management Consulting and Training could be a hard sell. Change Management wasn’t in project budgets. Project or operational managers weren’t sure how the work that change management consultants differed from the work of project consultants. As a company whose sole business is Change Management, we were advocates and educators first. We had to teach our customers what deliverables and outcomes resulted from Change Management work and training.

Now: We hear, “we need Change Management on this project.” We’ve had repeat clients for years and we add new clients annually. Once companies experience what skilled Change Management resources do, the tides turn. Internally, business leaders advocate for Change Management resources. They advocate to develop skills internally and they set aside budget to fund external experts to help the overall effort.

Available Resources
Then: Information was out there, but it was not ubiquitous. Knowledge sharing was organic and informal. We talked face to face with colleagues about what they did, what worked and what didn’t. We listened, adapted, tried, sometimes failed but mostly succeeded in improving project outcomes.

As consultants solely focused on Change Management, we were an anomaly. Clients never had internal change management resources. There were no CMOs (Change Management Offices). There were no Chief Change Officers, no certified change management professionals. There were no Change Management Workstreams in projects (unless we were there to add them).

CG-Web-IconNow: Knowledge is readily shared in the form of books, eBooks, LinkedIn groups, Blogs, YouTube videos, Change Management certifications (like our very own Change Guides Change Management Certification) and Change Management apps like our free Change Readiness Audit (add links). More consultants are dedicated to the field of Change Management as seen by the growth of the Association for Change Management Professionals (ACMP) and the Change Management Institute (CMI).

Clients build internal competencies and centers of excellence (COEs) in managing change with leaders and internal subject matter experts (SMEs). They demand more from their partner consulting and training firms. They need external resources that partner with internal SMEs, help develop their internal competency and provide a higher level of experience and expertise.

While Change Management has changed over the years, more is on the horizon. We know that the foundational truths like the ones captured in our second book, The Eight Constants of Change, still apply and probably always will. But we are always learning. The field will grow as experienced practitioners continue to learn and grow and feed that learning back into the field, as the Change Management research base grows, and as the workforce changes.

We are excited to continue leading the evolution of this important field. As Change Management work evolves, we predict that consultants will fall into two groups – Change Management Generalists and Change Management Specialist Experts. Generalist positions will exist internally and at consulting firms whose core competency is something other than Change Management (where Change Management is seen as an “add on” service). Firms like ours, who only do Change Management, will be hired as Specialist Experts to work with the Generalists. Whether our prediction about change management roles is correct or not, one prediction is certain… The field of Change Management will keep changing.

Have your own predictions? Join our LinkedIn Group  and let us all know what you think.

Virtual Instructor Lead Training (VILT)

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When companies have employees in multiple locations that all need the same training, what is the best way to accomplish this? Virtual training is becoming an ever popular option. Gina Giannitelli, our expert in virtual training, offered some advice on the matter.

Gina Giannitelli’s experience stems from serving on the Talent Development Advisory Council and then more importantly on the Talent Development Strategy Team for Deloitte Consulting. In that capacity, she learned a great deal about training delivery strategies. Deloitte was making decisions on whether to invest in a bricks and mortar training facility, and when/how to deliver training virtually. Like many companies, they were seeking effective, cost conscious ways to develop their talent which was distributed across multiple geographies. They developed a whitepaper on Talent Development (after various industry research) and held a leadership summit to inform the talent development strategy. That included reviewing the best delivery approach for “Technical, Industry, Professional and Leadership” knowledge and skill development. After the strategy work was done, Gina later worked closely with a team of Instructional Designers on the AERS TD Management team to implement the strategy in that business environment. She learned a great deal about training design and delivery methodology while serving on the AERS TD Management team.

Do you feel that virtual training goes as well as face to face training?

I have to admit, I was cautiously optimistic the first time I delivered Change Guides training in a live-virtual environment. I was curious to see how it translated. Virtual Instructor Lead Training is certainly a different experience, but when VILT is done well I do believe it can deliver all the value of a face-to-face session. Some of the keys are keeping classes to an optimum size for interaction and driving interaction through the delivery approach. With tools like Go To Training, we incorporate technology enabled live-virtual interactions through polling, virtual whiteboards, quizzes, etc. But it is equally important, in my opinion, to have a skilled facilitator who can draw out participation. The VILT environment actually offers a unique opportunity for participants to share their partially completed Tools, something we don’t have the capacity to do in a technology enabled way during in-person training.

After your training, you send out a survey, do you feel the participants achieved the maximum benefit from their virtual training?

Yes, I was pleasantly surprised by the very positive feedback from my training session. I do think most participants received maximum benefit… but like any other in-person training, participants get out of the session what they put into it, so there is some variation. The participants who are engaged, who resist any temptation to multi-task and who share openly their challenges and hopes for the session certainly gain the most… just as with in-person training.

The virtual white board that you ‘pass around’ for people to write on during the online training is a neat way to keep people engaged, do you feel that indeed it does keep everyone engaged?

The virtual whiteboard certainly helps, and it is a technique I like to use. When you know you may be asked to take the whiteboard at any point, you are less likely to multi-task (which is always a risk in person, and more so virtual). This is just one of many VILT techniques that ideally would be sprinkled through a session. Others would include knowledge checks through virtual polling or quizzes. I also really like sharing screens so participants can show the class a tool they have started, like a Stakeholder Master for example. Even using animations on slides helps to keep people engaged virtually, because there is visual interest on the screen. All part of the toolkit for virtual instructors.

Of course you never know what all people are really doing during the training, checking email, leaving the room, surfing the web, etc. How much of an issue do you think this is for online training?

This is always a consideration for online training, which is why we as instructors spend time up front customizing the Change Guides in-person materials for virtual delivery. We work hard to keep it interesting, interactive, to talk with people about how they provide feedback, if they need a break… all those little things that add up to a good training session. I would reiterate that an experienced trainer is key, someone who is skilled at driving participation and conversation. I prefer VILT sessions where there is a nice balance of information coming at you through instruction, discussion, and hands on learning. Our Change Guides training uses this format which is one of the reasons why I think it can be successfully delivered virtually. If we were delivering 4 hours of straight “talk at you” instruction it would not be as conducive to VILT.

As a trainer, how do you feel about the idea of more web based training? When companies have multiple people that need trained and those people are all in different locations, it is certainly more cost effective to do a virtual training. Do you think there is anything lost by not having the face to face contact?

I love the idea of more VILT options, when it is a fit with the content and the participants! It is absolutely the way of the future for dispersed teams. I particularly enjoy teaching virtually when some of the participants already know each other… it creates instant community and really encourages interaction. Research has shown that VILT is great for technical and industry knowledge. In person training is often ideal for what can be called “professional or leadership” skills, softer skills, many of which are important for Change Management. But I think VILT is very compatible with our Change Guides materials, which provided a tactical framework and tools. I really like the idea of combining in-person and VILT delivery… this would be my “ideal.” But in cases where timing, cost, or geography make in-person difficult I think VILT is a great option!
Live virtual is certainly finding its place in the training world. You have to have a well- trained facilitator that can keep the participants engaged by using white boards, virtual polling, quizzes, etc. The students have to work hard to stay focused and be an active part of their virtual training. If both sides of the equation work hard, VILT can be a successful experience.

The Return on Investment for Change Management

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Our clients ask us all the time about the return on investment for time and money spent managing change. Studies conducted by McKinsey several years ago showed a correlation between successfully managing change and increased returns from the changes studied. But the study provided no clear formula or way of calculating the increased value of future changes. We know that the benefits of investing in change management come from increased speed of adoption, adoption rates, and the skills or abilities of people who will take on new ways of working. So we were wondering… how do you measure the return on the investment in change management?

We asked past Change Management Certification Participants the following questions about their return on change management investments.
How do you justify the use of change management on your projects?

Lots of respondents said that they basically don’t justify the use of change management on projects. For some, they don’t because they don’t need to. Their leadership teams just know intuitively that it helps. For others, their lack of justifying the use of change management is a problem that they are continuously battling when resistance to change management arises.

A few justify change management with surveys and sharing the successes of change management in previous projects.
Have you measured the return on investment for change management? If so, what did you measure in order to determine the ROI of change management?

Most of you haven’t measured the return on change management investments. For those that have, measuring productivity of the workforce before and after a change was suggested, along with measuring adoption rates and surveying people about their engagement in a new way of working.

Several folks commented on the “soft” or “intangible” benefits of change management and the difficulty in measuring it.

In which change management activities do you invest the most money?

The most common things noted were communications (planning, executing, and materials), bringing stakeholders together for communication and engagement, and training.
Thanks for those of you that shared your experiences with the ROI of change management. There is no formula that we can point to just yet. But if you are thinking about measuring the benefits of the change management work you are doing, look to the cost savings or benefits for the organization that result from: faster adoption of new ways, greater utilization of the change, and greater skill or ability to use the changes. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

Five Signs You Need Change Management (Signs 4 & 5)

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This blog rounds up my top five signs that indicate you need change management on your project.  Here’s a quick review of what I covered in the previous 2 blog posts:

  1. Sign #1  Leaders aren’t visibly supporting your project
  2. Sign #2 Employees don’t have a clue about what’s going to change
  3. Sign #3 When people talk about the project, you think, “Why are they saying THAT?” 

Sign #4 is  No one’s talking about stakeholder strategies.  True learning, commitment and understanding come from involvement and hands-on participation. The more people are involved in change, the less negative their inevitable reaction will be. People naturally support what they help create. Truly involving others takes time, the ability to select the right people and the ability to delegate and manage diverse groups. Identifying various audiences and involving others the right way takes prioritization, inclusiveness and empowerment. The payoff for this approach is employee buy-in and commitment to the new strategy or goal.

Change managers document impacts by stakeholder and create specific transition strategies so workers are well prepared. These strategies include activities that help promote understanding and commitment to working differently.

Last but not least, sign #5 is  HR is not included in the planning.  Support and reinforcement are critical for making changes stick.  Sometimes, some of the old ways of hiring, developing and compensating people will work just fine in the new world.  But often, the reinforcing systems in the organization are misaligned with the new behaviors.  Without reinforcing new behaviors, people naturally revert back to old ways of working. To sustain change, the organization needs to have the right infrastructure in place to reinforce the change. 

This is where HR comes in. They bring additional perspective on how these systems should and can be changed. They usually play an important role in the training that takes place before go live as well. The sooner HR can understand the impact to the employees, the sooner they can start working on ensuring these supporting eliminates are aligned with the new business goals.

The Change Manager’s role includes connecting communication, leadership, HR and project activities so they are consistent and coordinated in terms of transitioning the workers.

Change Managers work on the People Strategy. This is a critical element when driving organizational change. After all, it’s the people who will do the new process, use the new system or have to work with a new team every day.

Organizational Learning… It’s Not Just for Hotel Ballrooms Anymore

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Truly exceptional organizations facilitate continuous learning and
transformation.  In order to bring about effective organizational change, individuals within an organization needs to be ready, willing, and able to work in new ways… over and over again!  That means that the individuals who make up the organization continuously learn and transform.

Organizational learning is tricky business these days.  People are busy.  Budgets are tight.  And adults are not really programmed to learn in the same ways that most of did when we were in school.

Adults at work learn in lots of different ways.  There is of course experiential learning that takes place every day through interactions, mentoring relationships, and on the job activity.  But there are also crafted learning experiences like training and workshops that are critical components of a continuous learning strategy.

Continually educating the workforce so they can work smarter, leaner and faster can be very expensive if we think about learning from our traditional viewpoints.  Everyone in a classroom.  Days away from the job.  The dreaded hotel conference or ball room.  These models can still work, but there are other options.  With geographically dispersed workforces, as well as ongoing demands of our jobs, looking at virtual options for learning only makes sense.

One concern that comes to mind when looking to virtual forms of learning is the loss of the benefits of interactions with a trainer and classmates.  With live virtual events (“live” meaning that the training takes place with a live teacher and classmates, “virtual” meaning that the group does not sit in the same physical room but shares an electronic or virtual room), the benefits of live training can be paired with the benefits of virtual training.

When facilitating organizational change, there is almost always the need to help people learn new ways of working.  Being creative about the way training is delivered (in one shot or broken up into small bits over time, in one location or from disparate locations) can reduce resistance to training and even improve the effectiveness of the learning.

If people in your organization need training to be effective at whatever change
you are trying to implement, think about how to best deliver that training so that you can meet the demands of the learners as well as the change.