Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Just Do It

A visiting SME (Subject Matter Expert) walks into a mini-workshop to present a fairly minor but mandatory and company-wide change to her third group of the day, her 70th group of the month. There are just six delegates in the room, all from a high-performing department. Everyone in the room knows about the change; some are nervous, most are skeptical. The SME starts talking quickly about her 25 years of experience, about how many times she's given this same talk, and how she knows the new process works. She can feel resistance in the room. She is challenged, which she handles with impatience, determined to move on.

One delegate suddenly excuses herself, says she can't cope with "it", walks out of the room, picks up her laptop and leaves the building.

What just happened?

Despite using an experienced Project Manager, and a committed SME, the business was determined to implement a new process without taking into account the 'people' factors. 

It's important to note that the decision to introduce the new process business-wide was made  after successful implementation at one site, where it solved a problem. There was little consultation outside Head Office.

Communication was minimal and vague, and far too long ago. Why is this a problem? Because change is often threatening and always personal. There were no success stories from earlier implementation. It was an indistinct cloud on the horizon, but with months between the first (and only) communication, and the implementation phase, office gossip had reinforced negative views of the change. This was obvious in the skeptical response in the room.

In this case, the change is relatively minor, and employees have no choice but to comply. The business impact of the lack of managed change will be negligible, but damage has been done. Employee engagement scores will take a hit. The company's values around respecting people will be questioned. The new process will be adopted and resented. Morale will suffer.

How could this situation have been avoided? An integrated Change Management approach would include the following elements:

Site by Site Consultation
Regular Communication - Benefits
Identification of resistance points
Neutralising of resistance points
Considered timing
Information & Resources

The workshop delegate who walked out will be implementing the change this week, without any counselling or instruction. She has decided that its easier to comply than make a fuss. Her personal resentment simmers.

No comments:

Post a Comment