The change challenge
It's notoriously difficult to make change stick once a transformation programme has been put in place. Here are a few reasons why and how you can address them before it's too late.
In an ideal world your transformation programme would complete having achieved all milestones on time and to budget, with your business geared up to start delivering.
In reality, what we see all too often is that people work hard when the pressure is on during the programme, then over time revert back to old ways of working. Often teams experience what is called the Hawthorne Effect in which individuals modify an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed. At worst operations and field teams feel secondary to the process and either ignore the new solution, find ways around it or are actively resistant.
We spend a fair amount of our time helping to fix projects that aren't delivering and we hear the frustrations of field forces across many industries, including:
- Concern that few outside of the field team understand or appreciate what they do and their operational challenges
- The solution is not aligned to field requirements; for example a lack of access to data and frustration with poor mobile coverage
- Disconnected with management team and feeling in the dark regarding the plans for the programme and the benefit for the field teams
- Lack of two way dialogue to address any ideas for improvement, feedback or concerns raised
- The solution isn't seen to deliver what customers truly need
- Lack of awareness and sufficient training available with field teams left to figure it out for themselves
Where resistance to change remains in the field it is hard to see how the intended benefits of the programme can be achieved. With transformation programmes there can be a lot of moving parts. Organisations tend to run a good hundred metres but fail to get around the whole track!
Making change stick
Making the change stick in companies with large, field-based or disparate workforces is notoriously difficult.
Change needs to consider the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ – processes, systems, structure, people and personal change. All of these should be underpinned by insight – understanding the readiness, willingness of individuals and underlying root causes of behavior and ways of working.
Delivering change through workforce management transformation programmes can be complex as operational processes will touch different functions, teams and systems right across your organisation.
Change management is important. It involves your teams in a structured and manageable way. It helps to consistently communicate a clear case for change, and support all of those users who will be impacted by the solution being introduced (whether from a system or process perspective).
Change is subtly different from business transformation.
We tend to differentiate change as temporary (an outcome of a project or programme which will have a finite life and be managed during the delivery of the project or programme).
Transformation is more enduring and typically becomes part of standard business operation after the project or programme has delivered. Achieving success is incredibly difficult; after all, you can update a scheduling system or change your business processes, but the crux is getting people to change and that can be particularly problematic when your people are geographically dispersed.
Focusing on the early “shaping” phases of a project or programme makes a considerable difference to the chances of success.
We also think it is the part of the programme which is often rushed or insufficiently prioritised. If you don’t plan and define things, how do you know you’re delivering the right outputs, outcomes and benefits? How do you ensure the pace of your implementation can be tolerated and accepted by your business?
Make sure you follow the other change management blogs on Service Talk for plenty of other hints and tips on change.