I have been carrying out research on new tools in the change management industry. This is my experience of two tools, each of which has triggered ideas on how we need to upgrade our approach to involving those impacted in our change initiatives.
Apprendo Learning Gateway
The first is an eLearning platform which enables staff to access learning modules, record their progress and for the trainer to see what they have viewed and what is still left to learn. All pretty standard but it was the range of module types that caught my eye:
• Slide presentations
• cartoons and animations
• web pages
My lesson learnt is that I need to put more effort into using a range of communication types to get the same message across, as everyone has different learning styles.
Another observation is that to track participation by the learner we need to make sure that these modules include lots of ways to track their involvement. Obvious measures are how many modules they have viewed, how often they are logging onto the platform, how many modules they abandoned, how many they returned to for a second look. In addition we can include quizzes, surveys, responses to blog posts, questions raised by the learners, number turning up in the chat room to talk to the trainer.
I have written before about the importance of tracking how many people are involved in learning about and adopting the new ways of working. Participation is the critical success factor for turning change from an idea to reality. My lesson learnt is that these platforms can help us track granular data about how much people are involved in the changes that affect how they work. However, this tracking only works if we incorporate the two-way feedback loop into every aspect of our communications.
eLearning puts the learner in control of the order in which they access the information. This has implications for how we present information, because we are not controlling the story. Each piece of learning that we provide about the new ways of working must be valuable. It clearly must define:
• What the element of the change is, and how it is different to current ‘business as usual’
• Why this element of the change is relevant to the user
• How it relates to other elements of the change
• What the user has to do differently
• How the user has to work differently
• What from their current ways of working they need to stop doing
My lesson learnt is that effective Change Managers are the ones who can break their change into specific steps and activities and explain each one of them clearly and concisely. We cannot generalise about how we want people to work because of our transformation, we need to facilitate sessions where those affected specify exactly what must change. Once we have these specifics, we can communicate them to everyone who is affected.
Mindsauce Knowledge on Demand
This platform enables confidential on-line coaching for executives. Making access to change experts as easy as possible is critical to successful change. At a recent Thought Leadership panel, I heard from transformational change directors of their concerns that executives aren’t confident in leading change. Their abilities are tuned to ‘steering a steady ship’. Piloting an oil tanker is a different proposition to driving a power boat. How to change course at speed is a different skill-set to excelling at ‘business as usual’.
In my own practice I have seen how impactful regular, confidential discussion can be. In these sessions I provide examples and suggested solutions that those I am coaching can explore and tailor to their own situations. This coaching addresses the blockers that prevent the change taking hold:
• Understanding how to get started, what to say and who to say it to
• The resistance of influential middle managers
• The need to tweak the scope of the change to ensure it works for all staff, not just a few roles
• The ability to uncouple the change from too many inter-dependencies
• The ability to break the change into small, specific elements that are small enough to deliver in a short time-frame, keeping up the momentum for change
This coaching needs to be available from the early stages of the change, when it is still be discussed as a possibility in the board room, the first announcements to staff, the building of momentum and the hand-holding needed as the change takes hold and side-effects and unexpected outcomes are discovered.
My lesson learnt is that this on-line coaching can be even more effective than turning up for face to face coaching sessions. Those I am coaching can get themselves somewhere quiet and confidential, without the hassle of having to give me access to their building.
No-one has to suffer the stress of travel, or cope with the time lost in getting somewhere, so the coaching can be easily scheduled, which means it is delivered closer to the point of need.
Most importantly, the face to face nature of the video calls enable us to experience words, tone of voice and body language – all the elements needed for the building of respect, trust and empathy.
These are only two tools. I would love to hear your recommendations from around the world for what is working best for you.