My list from the first ACMP speaking engagement post:
- As a profession we suffer from groupthink.
Many practitioners are inexperienced (internal and external) or at least one company practitioners.
3. Organizations are not structured for change.
4. The models and methodology being used are old, tired and misguided.
one that is skilled in only one area; also : one that has success only once
Change management, except at the lowest smallest level (and probably even then) requires the ability to compare, envision, interact and check things off the to-to list. It is more art than science. It necessitates interaction at multiple levels (and sideways and diagonally) with many different kinds of people. It calls for an understanding of status quo and people. It cries out for the kind of person who can put things in context while pulling in explanations of possibility. It also requires someone who can teach and mentor some of these capabilities.
One Trick Ponies
Internal One Company
The ultimate one trick pony (they are really project managers with a little layered CM) is the internal practitioner within a function.
They will likely be practicing push change management. They are tasked with getting people to do things, even when those people are unwilling (and maybe especially when).
They do well with eight step processes that force urgency and play nice with project management.
Even if they did want to use the flair, outreach and sensitivity that a senior consultant would bring to the work they can’t. One because the system at that level gives them little flexibility and two because they haven’t had to deal with the range of interactions that reaching out requires.
In fairness this ultimate one trick pony role is fantastic to have early in your career- as long as you are mature enough to have very open eyes (and ears). It is here where you will be able to see what does not work for CM. You will spend endless hours with dictated deliverables (if your CM is heavy internal then this is demands from the promoted one trick pony). You will always have to ask permission for any kind of interchange outside the small walls of control invisibly set up for you. (When you do get that permission you will have a “CC”list a mile long which completely defeats the reach out). In this career you have to be able to see and know why change does NOT work so you can do better.
Internal/External One Consulting Firm
This is the glorified ultimate one trick pony.
These are the big firm consultants who list all the clients they have worked with. Don’t be fooled. It is a long list of a barely external version of our previous pony. They are constrained by their organizations approach (again just a fancy version of the same bad steps from above). They are on a constant mission to increase revenue- up or out without bringing in the cash. The ones who stay are locked in to the most extreme version of CM status quo I can think of- rote, deliverable based approaches that have more to do with staying power than solutions.
The partners in these organizations have been in their roles for at least ten years (most many more). This is the top of the hill one trick pony. They are working with senior executives who have a lot of status quo to protect (illustrated by the fact they brought in the big firm). The consulting firms work in a distinct hierarchy so their approach will too. Operate that way for ten plus years and you have very little flexibility.
At that high level with C leaders and boards a good CM (with a lot of “tricks” available) is like a Gumby doll.
Just out of School
You aren’t even a one trick pony yet (although you do have the degree).
But, if you are lucky enough to get in a scenario where a good “pony trainer” can guide you, there is a chance you can scoot right past the one trick stage. IF you move on. Regardless of where you start in CM that should not be the place you are two years later. Stay longer and you go native with all its intendant status quo, hesitancy and to-do’s.
I sometimes think success with CM is about trying it all. Because your real role is to help people to see trying things makes sense.
One type of Engagement
There are consultants who are strictly IT. Say the SAP CM. Or the Workday CM. OR the HR CM.
Do the same thing over and over in this arena and you become a project manager. Nothing wrong with that role (we would not exist without it). If you are a CM you chose not to be a project manager. We need to keep our labels straight.
At a certain point in my career, right in the middle, I was asked, “have you done a FULL engagement?”. Or “have you done a full engagement for blank (usually SAP)?”. Or “have you done a full engagement, with blank, in this industry?” I would respond (even if the answer was yes) with, “are you looking for a change practitioner or a subject matter expert, because they are two different things”.
Yes it helps to have a full (whatever that means with CM) engagement. Yes it helps to have done more than one engagement within an industry. You could just as easily cobble together those requirements with multiple clients. The first part here, the middle there, another first part, the rare sustainability engagement. I would argue you are much more talented than the glorified one trick ponies who stay on engagements for more than two years. (By the way that would probably be a contractor not a consultant- that differentiation will come up at the ACMP panel discussion).
Anything mid-level or above that crosses at least one vertical and loops in more than a couple senior leaders requires a change management practitioner with varied experience. CM is about tweaking status quo. To have practitioners who have thrived on something one baby step ahead of status quo makes no sense. Practitioner, leader, one trick pony, get out of your box. Try a different trick. Make sure your successes are TRULY different. Then you can call yourself a change leader.
Perks & Perils: Optimizing Internal and External Change Management, April 16th at 4 pm PST, for the Los Angeles ACMP conference. We have a chart we will use to show the strengths of external and internal along with the overlaps. I gave you some outside the panel insights for External Change Management Consultants last week. This week let’s look at “Internals”.
You see above I have highlighted our panelist “representing” the internal perspective- Ania Spzakowski. She has made a clear distinction, and opened my eyes while doing so, for our two roles. I am not going to steal any thunder other than to say I now see clearly how the two roles can work together and potentially be stronger than one plus one. That’s good because I have been sour on internal roles and the reasons for creating them (more to do with cost and control than successful outcomes). Another tidbit: Ania has had a chance to do a similar version of change in a different part of a huge organization and operated like an external. Interesting. Not a recipe for replacing externals with internals though. No organization is THAT big.
Here are things that internal change management consultants can do (sometimes solely, sometimes better than externals):
- Business Process
Internals get measured with the documentation trail they leave. They have a reason to be good at this (and the organization trains their behavior accordingly).
This alternately astounds, intrigues, puzzles and confuses me.
It seems with internals every change action they take is one to be looked back on and measured against. I often hear the refrain, “someone in the organization will probably do this again, we want to leave best practices and tools for them”. Fair on the surface, but no organization goes through the same change twice. And approaches that model change as the same process each time end up templated and simplistic.
I have had a few engagements where the client insisted on the approach they had been sold (either by a salesperson or through internal organic influence). “Sold” approaches are often very templated and documentation heavy. Practicing change in those scenarios is as simple as filling out the forms, right?
The smart internals have created a base level of templates and tools to make change communications and interaction recognizable and different from normal. They use that documentation to get things done.
If I am a representation of external it is easy to say internals are better at this paper trail.
This paper trail, as I mentioned, is “important”. Internals know how to make it more important. For this I personally love working with an internal resource. (Because I get the internal organizational connection).
Communication is a little like documentation. Knowing the avenues and having a quick form to fill out crosses off some of those things that are essential for change, but time-consuming (and arguably not that effective). Certain kinds of regular communication fall into this category. While an external may want to go out and connect to get things to happen and internal wants to make sure everyone knows what’s going on.
So they communicate that information.
They are usually good at communicating just above the radar of rules. They are making tiny pushes to the big ship of change with each of those individual communications.
Honestly externals rarely have that kind of patience. (Patience should be a category for internal positives).
This is where internals shine.
They often have come from a training (rather than a consulting) background so this was, and is, one of their strongest competencies. They also are often subject matter experts for something which makes them perfect to train that thing.
And they know the organizations guts and how to maneuver through the logistics of getting people to create training, getting the training to happen and getting the right people to show up. Every change has training as a component. Every change initiative should have an internal connected to this piece.
At a tactical level (swim lanes and Visio diagrams) internals are great at diagnosing business processes and then figuring out how to tweak them.
This category is a squishy one because externals are good at going in and out of business process to see bigger pictures. Most business processes are connected to others. Remove or tweak a piece here and something collapses there.
It is not that internals can’t see that big picture; it is that the organization does not like to let them do so.
There are a lot of power levers in that larger view. (Hint for the panel discussion: there appears to be agreement on externals ability to leverage power).
Is high level tactics.
My generic distinction between internal and external is that internals are best at tactics, externals at strategy (yes that is a very broad stroke).
Some of the internals I have worked with that are exceedingly impressive, are so because of their ability to manage the logistics of the whole change equation. They are almost like project managers. And, in fact, many organizations seem to think it is somehow good to be project and change management certified in the same person. (Outside those organizations that is considered a little schizophrenic).
Internals are most impressive when change initiatives get to the inevitable extension of the end state date. For IT that might be a Go-Live, for a cultural initiative it might be the period where the project team will roll off or the money spigot is set up to end. Get the steering committee together, agree to the new date and internals are scrambling to rebuild the fallen house of cards. The externals? Are scratching their heads confused at the inevitability of these situations. (They wait a little before helping to set the cards back up knowing that the whole change environment has now gotten MUCH more difficult). (Think waiting a bit while catching your breath climbing a sand dune. Wait long enough and a dust storm may just build that mound up bigger than it was when you started).
Documentation, Communication, Training, Business Process and Logistics. That is my list of things internal change management consultants might just do better than externals.
Fast Company, “Why Faking Enthusiasm is the Latest Job Requirement” will get your blood boiling- especially if you read the comment section. Thinking about it makes me snicker. How many times have I heard the word, “engagement” in organizations? “What can we do to get them engaged?”. From a senior leader, “how are you going to engage this particular stakeholder group?”. (OK maybe that snicker is a sneer with the inside-my-head response, “I would ask YOU the same question”).
It is almost refreshing to meet those employees who are NOT faking it. You are supposed to go full bore with no qualms. You are certainly not supposed to complain. It is those who toe the line right in the middle that amaze me. They just kind of HANG IN THERE.
Let’s put a change spin on this
No one should have to fake anything that has to do with their job or change. They, equally, should not be expected to cheerlead their way through life and their role. Both sides of this equation have to be looked at. What do those happy-go-lucky-love-my-job people get for their energy?
As some of the comments suggest money is not everything, but seems to be pretty important. There is a level that the money has to be at. That is different for everyone, different for roles and levels, but there is always that level for every role that is the bottom. A post like the Fast Company one comes along when that level has been broached in a downward direction.
Productivity is up, wages are down.
There seems to be a factor there that might engage people.
Nothing is going to change (although take heart CM practitioners rates have definitely gone up this year) soon in the wage arena.
My suggestion then is that things make sense at some level. For change it is because work fits into something bigger than the individual stakeholder. For a job it might be that ones skill is being used/leveraged. For a role it might be that this can be a stepping stone to the hop-and-skip-to-work roles.
If we are truly to get engagement there needs to be more opportunity, more reward (or at least fair reward) and, yes maybe a little better attitude. This applies to jobs and change.
Here is something to think about for your organization: How about using change for changes?
I have found most change initiatives now have people running to participate, IF, they know changes will be made to the way they do their work. Yes I know you thought change was the other way around- big effect on what people are used to. This willingness to participate seems to stem from this wave of organic decision making that has occurred in the last couple of years. Stakeholders (for change) and employees (for operational activities) know that the only way decisions are made that can help tweak structure is to have many (if not everyone) on board.
Organizations are becoming a little like politics- it takes massive pressure to make the slightest of tweaks.
Might there be a way to speed this up?
Use your change for changes
As you look at your path to end states keep in mind operations of the future and the present. Are there tweaks you can make to process, performance, culture, interaction that will facilitate efficiency, or participation or the use of expertise? You, of course, need to look at the tweaks needed for your operational end state, but what about now? What about making things better as you travel to that future? Maybe push a few small buttons before you tackle the big ones? (This approach is my own version of quick wins- quick wins that work now AND later).
The Change “Excuse”
Even in the most entrenched organizations (entrenched being either dictatorial or organic) change becomes a great time to do things a little differently. It is not that hard to strip away a few of those mandatory reviews. It is not that hard to open up stakeholders lists so more emails can be sent at once, or together. It is not hard to designate someone as the leader (owner or sponsor) so that ONE person becomes responsible for decisions. (And to think we used to push back against that kind of leadership- the pendulum swings).
Take advantage of the change excuse to:
- Tweak performance measures. Make them future and goal oriented. Make them REAL.
- Create new rules. Maybe you make some new meeting rules, say 40 minute meetings instead of one hour. Maybe you put time limits on interaction, forced deadlines yes, but parameters that make sense. Maybe you pull in HR to help you create new rules thereby possibly changing the rules for making rules. In this case think of a rule as a chance to guide behavior rather than the opportunity to control something (or someone).
- Do things differently. Do you always, quickly, put dates on things? Are you deadline driven? How about padding those times for once? Or maybe put that padding in front of the announcement of a date/deadline- you might find yourself making some smart decisions with less pressure. Do things seem to last forever and never get accomplished in your organization? Maybe yours is the one that needs to start fencing things in with dates. If hard dates are too hard then drop things into time frames say a quarter, or month or week.
- Do the same things better. Use change to look at the things you already do (especially if they will be similar at the end state) and make them better. How often are your lists of 10 things really only seven or eight? How well do you organize work so that it makes sense? Is the smallest of tasks connected to a bigger whole (hint the answer is ALWAYS yes)? Do you communicate that? Do you organize work around that? Change is a great time to do that.
- Do something new. You are already changing. Why not try some new things at the same time? (Hint: those new things will be much less overwhelming than the actual big change, and doing them feeds the comfort level needed for the bigger stuff). Sometimes change is an attitude. Encourage that.
Use big change for small change. Tweak, create, do things differently, do the same things better, do something new. The small changes will feed the big changes if you use the big change as an opportunity.
Feldthoughts brings us a great list for meetings, repurposed from an Urban Airship employee wall posting:
0. Do we really need to meet?
1. Schedule a start, not an end to your meeting – it’s over when it’s over, even if that’s just 5 minutes.
2. Be on time!
3. No multi-tasking … no device usage unless necessary for meeting
4. If you’re not getting anything out of the meeting, leave
5. Meetings are not for information sharing – that should be done before the meeting via email and/or agenda
6. Who really needs to be at this meeting?
7. Agree to action items, if any, at the conclusion of the meeting
8. Don’t feel bad about calling people out on any of the above; it’s the right thing to do.
Go to the Feldthoughts link and read the comments. This post produced an animated thoughtful and helpful stream of tips and perspectives.
Leveraging a list like this would be fantastic for change management. It would also be a great tool to experiment with under the cover of change work.
I preach a rule (that rarely gets followed, but is always worth proselytizing): reports as deliverable, decisions/dialogue as meeting.
Using a meeting as a report-out is HUGE waste of time. For some reason it is a favorite pattern with project managers (I think that is because they are rewarded by task completed so any chance they have to show how much they checked off they take- it must have worked along the way because now it is an engrained pattern). An argument can be made that people do not look at those attached reports when sent. Fair (since there are also too many report-outs, another blog post). If they do not look at the report then maybe the report is not that important… to them.
0. Deciding whether to meet should be automatic, but is not an easy choice (mostly because the organizer is usually intensely focused on the world from their perspective).
- I like the start time only… but do people just make sure all meetings start on the hour? I could see either lots of tardy attendees (from meetings that go forever) to lots of 5 minute meetings on the hour. A compromise is to make meetings shorter- between 20 and 45 minutes instead of an automatic hour.
- Good luck getting that one to work in certain countries. I say schedule all meetings less than an hour and be a little early. I learn lots with the questions I ask before meetings (and knowing that gets me there early).
- Lots of studies have shown that multi tasking just does not work. End of that discussion. Except… if you are multi tasking then the meeting is not important so move to number 4.
- Yes! Except that we would have to leave a LOT of meetings. As a change management practitioner pretty much every meeting will provide something valuable (we need background information to fulfill our roles). The only way the “leave the meeting” rule works is if everyone understands and the number of meetings gets reduced as a result. The more reduction the easier it is to follow the rule.
- Have agreed to this for a long time. You do have to create a structure where people read reports voluntarily or are punished if they do not. Don’t punish the reader before you go after the producers though.
- The CAN OF WORMS. It is much, much easier (especially with change that screams inclusive) to justify having someone at a meeting than not. The cost of these meetings is phenomenal though. I listened in on a report meeting (little dialogue, lots of things that needed to be tabled…hey there’s a word, tabled, as in “in person meetings over stuff on the table”) with 125 (!!!!) participants, almost all call in. Let’s err on the chintzy side and say each of those people made the equivalent of $60 hr… that report-of-the-report cost $7500 US. Did I mention these are usually weekly? $30,000 a month to cover tracks.
- Not every meeting HAS to have action items. Remember meetings should be for dialogue. Marching orders work perfect in bullet point lists with names on them sent separate from meetings. Meetings, remember, can also be for decisions though. That is when the action items will appear. Decide, create marching orders. A good use of a meeting.
- If you do not make it OK to use and question these rules (and question those who do not follow them) then it is just a set of rules that will never work. Change has to make sense. It has to make sense at the individual and functional level. This list could be a great pilot exercise for bigger behavior change.
One thing I would add is to question agendas.
They are a little “oxymoronic”. On the surface it makes sense to let people know what will happen and what is coming up. Dig deeper though and you realize agendas invite the multi tasking of #3, illustrate #6, invite #4 and fit better with #5. Plus, meetings that are TOO structured (or always structured exactly the same way with a templated approach) reduce dialogue, which then effects decision making (as in making it almost impossible).
Eight rules for meetings, care of the Urban Airship, with some horizontalchange twists and suggestions when dealing with change.
The organization decides to start some big change. Enough people agree on it and it gets far enough into their process that an initiative begins. At the point that it has a name (or could have a name that is another issue) spending has been allocated, the right people have participated and “agreed” and they are good to go.
This is something that I see over and over, and it seems to be getting worse: big process for deciding whether something falls into that initiative title; LOTS of effort to make sure everything is quantified and figured out from a money and business perspective; and spreadsheet lists of needed resources. All well and good. Should work. Makes sense.
Except: most of the expertise, the competencies needed, are not available. They are either not there or are locked in as full FTE’s for other stuff and or operational work.
What does this actually look like?
It looks like those in the project team begging, pleading, bargaining for and coercing to get the resources they need (which comically are in those proposals to leadership).
I honestly do not get this.
(I get how it happens, I get what has to be done as a result, I get that this seems to be a common result of built up Human Nature).
How can you embark on a major, multi- million dollar effort and not MAKE SURE you have the people you need and that they know they will be doing what you are expecting?
An aside: many, if not most, of the models out there are created to facilitate the begging and pleading- all cloaked up in “research” and “best practices”.
This discussion falls squarely in the Prioritization layer for change management (see Change Management Layers for the others).
Most, ok in a way all, organizations have strategy. The same for a project, review and allocation process. All organizations have someone who can “sign” for initiatives. You would assume those signers, or better THAT signer, has the power and influence to illustrate who will be needed where. It seems pretty straight forward: see the need, define the need, place the needs in the proper order and sequence. Simple.
Or it would be if there was not a gap in the whole change process (which is because most organizations do not have a true change process- they have high level project processes).
The gap is the inability to interconnect change initiatives with operations and allocation. The secondary gap is the lack of decision making- call it prioritization like I do (to avoid scapegoating executives for a much bigger problem).
I see solutions. It would be exciting to be in a position to actually address this problem in one organization. It would be its own change initiative though. A big one FULL of needed behavior and structural change, not to mention a whole lot of reflection by senior executives (and likely the board). We can dream though.
My first pick for the reason any change “fails”? Prioritization and Strategy.
I remember, it seems only a few short years back, organizations that had clear career paths. They had official training (in person, can you believe that?) programs, succession plans and mentoring. True that still exists, but it is more informal and most organizations are missing one piece of the training/mentoring/succession triad.
External consultants can provide two of them (officially in the contract or as a value add within their work process), training and mentoring.
Mentoring often has training (and coaching for that matter) elements built in. So let’s look at Mentoring (it gets a capital because of its importance and effect).
After a few years of experience we, as consultants, make a lot of assumptions about how much leadership is understood. Take away those experiences (which is where most leaders in organizations are coming from- one or just a few place where they have watched and practiced) to compare and leadership suddenly gets complicated and confusing. When externals understand that, and internal leaders value that externals insight, it becomes easy to guide with a little correction here, a risky move there, a new relationship built over there.
- Good leaders understand motivation. As a mentor help your mentee to see things from the perspective of those they lead.
- Great leaders are aware of themselves and their presence. Help leaders to see their value as a leader of others and as a role model. Teach them to be connected to their leadership and those they lead (no walls for safety).
- Fantastic leaders acknowledge. Mentors should be constantly calling out the positive in both the leader and those led. The more we all appreciate what we are good at the more we offer up that talent to others.
In my case this is a component since it is my specialty. It never hurts to have this category part of any mentoring arrangement. You will create a prodigy if you focus on end states, expertise and broader views.
- Awesome leaders can see the end state, define objectives turn them into goals and create the right tasks for the right people (and so not have to beg for participation).
- Savvy leaders define change in terms of talent and skill. Teach to see what needs to be done, what skill or competency is required for that and who would be the best fit.
- Smart leaders always frame effort around the future. This is HUGE. Teach to stop looking at the present compared to the future. Future first defines possibility and strength. Future first reveals inadequacy in a solution oriented way.
Strategy and Tactics
One of the things I see missing with leaders is an ability to see the biggest picture and then zoom in. Everyone seems to be able to zoom in. In fact just about everyone (including high level leaders which seems strange) STARTS at zoomed in. Without the ability to see a broader picture nothing can be put into context.
But always looking at some big, likely unattainable picture, also does not work on it own. Learning to turn big into small, idea into task, is a valuable leadership competency.
- Do mini exercises together describing end state of things going on in the organization. Repeat with different perspectives.
- Do the same thing from the other direction. Look at a set of tasks the leader or someone else is responsible and see if a connection can be made to a bigger picture.
- Focus on how the organization organizes strategy (pillars, stated objectives etc.) and make a list of things the leader can influence to make that organization better, visible and accessible to stakeholders.
Leadership is about business first right? Or not.
Business translated to people is a little like the present converted to the future. It is backwards.
Or think of it this way: Look at a business model and figure out the competencies you will need and look at a group of talented people and see what you can accomplish (that someone will pay for). I think a talented group of people can make money faster than a business can gather talent.
So, with the assumption that business requires talent, learning about people, looking at things from a people perspective, will make a strong leader. The business part you can sometimes pick up just by being there, the people part takes attention.
- List out the leaders reports, then list their competencies broken down to skills. Ah ha- you were going to make a list of the things those people needed to improve on weren’t you? Know what you have that is working before you get into the weeds of fixes and improvements.
- As an external mentor reach out to someone that will help your mentee somehow. It is so much easier for externals to make the right connection horizontally than it is for internals (I sense some pushback as I write that- there is a blog post there). Build that connection and then draw in your internal leader in the right way. Maybe carry information back and forth that helps both and then slowly make the connection just the two of them. Your leader will see your process and use it the next time they need to reach out.
- Teach the leader to say thank you, to acknowledge, to put things in a positive light. (And, yes, use that perspective to more easily shine a light on the opposite).
If you are an external looking to make more of a difference, and increase your value, spend more time mentoring. If you are a client working with an external consultant ask, or contract for, this arrangement. Mentoring is missing in a lot of organizations, externals can fill that gap.
These things I already do, but I am resolving to get better:
- Be patient.
Client time is different from mine. It is usually slower, but sometimes has a wild false urgency. Patience for change management means going slower at times and faster when it is not really necessary.
- Fill in the cells.
Whether or not it makes sense everyone seems to need cells filled in. Rather than constantly question all these spreadsheets I am going to take some time to fill them up so I can get to the REAL change management.
- Stand my ground.
It is easy as a consultant to not say some things either because you know there is little chance your comments will turn into the right action or because you are afraid you will push buttons which can make your position precarious. This is exactly what consultant used to get PAID for- willingness to question and eloquently present alternatives. I have worked to hard to discard this talent.
- Spend more time dishing out Kudos.
There is not enough specific acknowledgement in organizations. Perhaps coming from outsiders compliments that call out expertise might carry some extra weight? Perhaps spending a little extra time on this helps others to follow suit? You do not know until you try.
Four resolutions that might help both consultant and client, and vice versa: Be patient, fill in the cells, stand your ground and hand out extra Kudos. Use them yourself if you like.
One of the first questions I ask potential clients is, “Who is the owner of this change?”.
Rarely do they know what I mean by owner (the highest level executive connected to the budget that feeds the change).
So the second question is, “Who is paying for this?”.
Followed closely by, “Where is that money coming from?”.
This is always the first opportunity to do some “change informing”. Where the money comes from and who owns the transfer of said money is a big deal. Stakeholders are astute about how money flows in their organization. Where it flows (where it gets stuck) and who touches it before something actually happens is something stakeholders know. If they do not know then an important trust component is missing.
Be clear about that path your change budget will take and do not be afraid to communicate.
Change can be expensive until the end state arrives and savings are achieved. You may be paying with the bills in your pocket or you may be “putting it on the card” (your organizations version of start now pay later).
When it comes to paying for change there are often small fixes, corrections and process changes during the change process that save money. Sometimes you are lucky enough to know ahead of time where these tidbits lie. Sometimes not- you just have to notice when they appear. It is a shame for change energy and connection to improvement not to call these scenarios out. To not highlight improvement, especially when you have clear positive numbers attached, is a waste of opportunity. Granted you may have to communicate with sensitivity since savings can mean something negative for certain stakeholders, but avoiding these kinds of opportunities in order to stay secret about the difficulties is another trust breaking event.
Call out small change that saves money (or creates revenue).
How are you paying for this change? How being in what form are your resources being paid for and classified? Consultants direct? Employment contracts? Contingent workforce? “Permanent” employees?
While this may not seem important internally, other than which cell in the spreadsheet you are going to record these resources, for those brought in it can be VERY important. For your change that means consideration of risk factors and energy/participation of those doing and guiding the work.
Know they are doing this work through their own company. Know they are being paid as much as the market will dictate, with no skim. Know you value their expertise. Know they will have some flexibility to leverage the world outside your organization to help you with solutions. Can be argued are the happiest and most committed of ANY of your resources.
If you are not using this avenue I guarantee you are having problems as a result (can’t find the right people, everything seems so expensive, resources-the good ones- keep leaving for better roles, lack of commitment, only doing exactly what is asked and nothing more, etc.).
Might give you something close to direct.
If you think you might need this resource more than two years an employment contract might make legal sense. (For a true consultant two years is the cut-off- at that point it is time for the consultant to move on). An experienced consultant will balk at this arrangement, mostly because the word “contract” means almost nothing now. I do not know a consultant who has not had a “contract” broken early by a client.
When it comes to paying for this change employment contracts might be a good option, because theoretically you are signaling to the consultant that you expect them to stay. That can provide a little extra security for that resource and a little more comfort in doing difficult things that are needed for the change to happen. (Whenever possible I set up pre-pay arrangements with clients so that everyone is committed at the right level).
Many organizations, at least here in California, are using contingent workforces. 50% of “FTE’s” as contingent is not uncommon (that could mean tens of thousands of temporary workers in one company). For the client this is a good way to instantly get the right expertise, the right resource in the right place without a higher level of commitment. For resources transitioning, or unable to find full time work (maybe because of this contingent problem it is a vicious circle in a down market), or consultants who do not like the business part of their career choice this is a good work category. But look at the words I had to use- transitioning, do not like, unable. Contingent means, if this exists, or that, or the other thing, and when it does not, no contingency (and as a client I just realized last night in my sleep this change is not “contingent” on that resource anymore).
I have decided when it comes to resources, employees and employers, permanence is in the eye of the beholder (and lack of permanence is just out of their field of vision). This is an oxymoron-ic term now as it was with our parents and even, to some extent, with our grandparents. When it comes to business nothing is permanent. Some things hang around a long time, some people are able to do that too, but not everyone, and these days, not most.
This can be a good thing. As with a lot of the components and pieces of change what may seem negative can actually be a quick positive. If nothing seems permanent to an employee or permanence is an elusive target then why not do things that make the present more comfortable (and reasonably safe)?
This category of resource will thrive on acknowledgement connected to differences that are good, connected to the change, that they were part of creating. Permanent employees are the one category where you have an actual performance system to reward and value your resources. (The other categories would benefit from acknowledgment too, but are used to finding their own version of connection to work).
“Permanence” can work both ways though. If those resources feel locked in, if they feel they must follow status quo, if their ideas get pushed away, they become the stakeholders that inexperienced and old fashioned consultants call “resistors”.
Be conscious of the way you will pay your resources and what label that attaches to them- labels being both positive and negative.
Change, how are you paying for this? How is that payment defined? Who is distributing the payment? What kind of a river does that money have to flow through to get to individual resources? In what ways are those payments connected to the work of change? The answers are more important than you think.
“Quick wins” are an engrained organizational and project management expectation.
A few previous posts that might help for background:
Start Correctly Quick Wins
Change Management Quick Wins
Tactical Quick Wins
Change Management can get a jump start if those “wins” are chosen carefully and done well.
There is one quick win (quotes removed because this is the REAL thing) that will always pay dividends and stands out as the ultimate of quick wins. Ownership.
Every change has a person who controls the purse strings.
Don’t kid yourself with that organic committee structure. Every expense has a “signature”.
Stakeholders know this and look to that person in relation to the change. How is the owner participating? What are they saying? Do their actions (or inaction) give away their connection? In what way are they working with the next layer, the implementary owners/leaders?
For the stakeholders, ownership goes through three phases: the idea, the socialization and the project process.
This is the first exchange from one person to the next that will be the seed for the change. Later stakeholders will ask, or wonder, whose idea it was. (Can you just hear the comments in your head if this is represented poorly…”Whose idea was this ANYWAY”)?
Owning the good and not so good of a change idea can be powerful for the change process at the individual level. The power is equal for the actual owner owning the idea because it is theirs and for the owner owning the idea because it is someone else’s.
Ownership of the idea, or not, is revealed as soon as that idea starts to get socialized.
That would be when the third person is brought into the loop. First person idea, first person tells second person, one or both of them tell third person- and you KNOW how fast it spreads after that. (PS you have now arrived at, or arguably PASSED, the point where you could stand to have a senior change management consultant- preferably external- onboard).
Ownership during socialization builds trust, gives chances for promises that can be kept and makes inclusion a choice rather than a task in a spreadsheet.
The Project Process
When it comes to ownership and change you do not get to pass orders and responsibilities down the line and then walk away. Even if someone else is officially accountable for delivery (usually starting at the implementary leader) there is ALWAYS still an owner. Don’t set this aside as unimportant. Years of listening to stakeholders have shown me this is the number one complaint, issue and “problem” to be fixed.
When the project phase starts everything is connected to goals with goals being part of the needs for the end state. Goals should be a representation of the organizations overall strategy and the reasons this change is happening. If there is no ownership first from the actual owner and then from those implementing then there is no trust for strategy. No trust for strategy translates instantly into no trust for leadership. No leadership trust? Then very little actual change.
How do we do this?
The NUMBER ONE quick win for change management is to get ownership. Admittedly this may not be a “quick” thing and if you have chosen to add change management to the mix late there is some catch up to do. Also weak corporate strategy and worse poor or “sale-sy” communications makes ownership tough in general. But we are looking for a quick win here.
- Make the connection between high level change management consultant and “the one who will be owner” as fast as possible. In the most perfect of worlds for both client and consultant, and so for change, the owner is the external consultants direct client. (This can be done internally, but it is a MUCH more difficult exercise). If your organizational culture, and/or the way and place you brought the consultant into, insists on an organic approach then mid level implementers must trust the consultant and then provide the necessary introduction. It is then up to the consultant to build trust and a relationship with that executive to start ownership.
- Adjust structure. Leaders get away with non-ownership because there are things baked into the organization that make this possible. Once baked everyone just accepts the taste. Leaders have the power and leverage to tweak those structural things. That is, of course, if they are willing to own decisions. Find something in the organizations structure that can be tweaked, do it, stick with it and help the leader own it. Hint: something as simple as creating a few leadership communications or having the owner show up in the right places at the right time could be a structural change. If this has not been done before, especially from a strategic implementation perspective, and it is done again the next time a structural tweak has just happened (and will be followed by a cultural change I can guarantee).
- Replicate this for your next quick wins. There are lots of levels of ownership from the idea, to the money, to the strategy, to the goals, to the individual task (and so person). Model ownership and pass it horizontally, down the change and from side to side within teams. Do so and your “quick wins” are virtually endless!
The ultimate quick win is ownership. The first quick win is ownership by the OWNER of the change. Without this quick win you will waste time, erode trust and never really quite get to those end states.