Webinar round-up: Framing the People Side of Change

Driving change within organisations is not an easy process, yet many businesses underestimate the difficulty of delivering long-lasting change. They will focus their efforts on implementing new processes and technology, while neglecting the most important aspect of change: people. Implementation is necessary, but without understanding how to drive adoption, projects and programmes are destined to fall short of expectations.

To help us frame the people side of change properly, Programme Director at Dyson Will Seward hosted a Deltra webinar. Will is an experienced transformation specialist with over 10 years’ Transformation & Programme experience across numerous industries, currently contracting with Dyson. Outside of work, Will volunteers for Samaritans, is working towards being a counsellor, and helps with respite foster care. It’s these extra activities which help Will grapple with different perspectives and approach change differently.

Planning to implement vs planning to adopt

Transformation programmes are often highly functional in the delivery process. They are usually planned in terms of how the change will be implemented, but not adopted. They focus on outputs instead of outcomes. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one.

Focusing on outputs refers to an emphasis on what system, policy, or technology you want in place. Having outcomes in mind makes you think about where you want to be as an organisation at the end of the change process. Of course, you want people to adopt the change, but this can easily be overlooked if your end goal is just to have the system in place.

Planning for adoption will bring different and more valuable metrics. For example, the number of times people log in to a system, or the number of mistakes that are made in a new process. Once you’ve defined these metrics, you can bring them back to the start of the journey and work out the implementation. Then, as you’re implementing the change, you can see if adoption is taking place too.

Creating emotional buy-in

A lot of mistakes occur during change due to unrealistic expectations. Managers assume that if they say they are transforming the business, change will happen. In reality, without emotional buy-in from employees, people won’t adopt the new processes and technology as quickly as desired.

Will drew parallels from the book ‘The Speed of Trust’, in which the author outlines the interaction between trust, cost, and speed. During change, if we can increase trust among employees the programme will be completed quicker as there is less resistance, which in turn will drive costs down because the programme isn’t dragging on.

Change is often viewed by employees as cost cuts, redundancies, and a lack of empowerment; it’s happening to them rather than with them. Effective leadership through change is bringing people on the journey with you by making them feel a part of it. In the early stages of transformation, communication is paramount.

The people side of change – operational or emotional?

People often confuse ‘the people side of change’ with training, human resources, or organisational design (see the picture below for details). Although all of those aspects – the operational side of people – need addressing during transformation, that’s not what will truly drive adoption. You can have all the right people in the right place with the right skills, but still be left baffled when you reach the end of the programme and you’re not getting the cut-through you expected.

What will have the largest effect on the success of the programme is paying attention to the emotional side of people. Communication is key in this. You need to consider not only what to say, but also when, who needs to hear it, who the message should come from, and where to deliver the message. Regular communication will create trust and emotional buy-in, because people will feel included in the change.

One webinar attendee chimed in with his rule that any communication needs to pass the ‘know, feel, do’ test. You need to think about what you want the audience to know, how you want them to feel, and what you want them to do. The middle part is often overlooked.

Learning from your mistakes

At the end of programmes, it’s common for managers to hold a workshop where they share the lessons learned. Unfortunately, what is also common is that these lessons are forgotten about by the time the next programme kickstarts. Will stressed the importance of bringing those lessons forward into each programme. Each thing that didn’t go as well as it could is then put into a RAID log and managed as a risk within the next programme.

Equally as important is making note of what you did right, so that you can keep doing it well next time. Over time, you’ll have a long list of things that can even be built into a template that allows you to hit the ground running in every programme. No change programme is going to go flawlessly, but good transformation demands that we understand and account for the human side of change.

Will also made it clear that transformation professionals can learn a lot from each other. Sometimes in this industry, people don’t want to ask questions in fear that they’ll look inexperienced or unconfident, but that’s not the case. That’s the reason Deltra set up events like this one in the first place. They are the perfect forum for like-minded people in change and transformation to come together on equal footing, network, and share ideas.

So, if you’re interested in hearing about our next event or perhaps getting involved as a speaker, don’t hesitate to sign up.

This event was run by our Principal Consultant Kevin Suddaby. Connect with him on LinkedIn, contact him via email, or call him on 07584 630 111.

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21st December

Deltra Events