9 Part Blog: The Reasons Transformational Change Can Fail – Reason 3.
Conventional change management models often follow a one-size fits all approach. This does not take into account important differences between change initiatives, or the distinct operating cultures of companies. One important way to assess any transformational change is to evaluate it from the perspective of the employee.
Change Models Should Consider Employee Roles
Employees play 2 roles when involved in a transformational change. The first is that of Helpers. These individuals assist in the planning, design, and actual implementation of the initiative. These activities will often interfere with their regular work duties, which present challenges when trying to perform both roles.
The second role is that of Users, who become active once the initiative has been established. This occurs during the Post-Implementation phase where they employ the new tools and new processes in their roles. Some of the Users, who have assisted as Helpers, will also play important roles as Coaches and Mentors Post-Implementation.
Change Models Should Consider The Type of Impact on Employees
There are also 2 types of employee impact that occur in transformational change. These are Non-Measured and Measured Impact, which are based on how the new processes and tools are used once implemented. Initiatives under Non-Measured Impact are where Users use the new tools and processes, to become more productive and efficient. For Users, the information provided by the new methods are not used to measure their employment performance.
Initiatives that fall under Measured Impact are usually directly linked to revenue, operating efficiency, and profit generation. For these Users, employment performance is directly measured based on the use and results produced from the new processes and tools.
Non-Measured Impact and Employee Roles
Non-Measured impact primarily applies to Digital Transformations and some forms of Performance Transformations. These initiatives are focused on increasing employee efficiency and effectiveness. Examples apply to areas of the company such as finance, production planning, procurement, or logistics.
Throughout the Pre-Implementation phase, there is a predictable degree of disruption that occurs with employees (which includes Managers) in the departments affected by the initiative. Various employees from different parts of the organization will act as Helpers, who are involved in the planning, data collection, process validation, rollout, and the training phases.
The major tension experienced by this group of Helpers is in their extra workload, and the short-term impact it has on their productivity and performance. These are the key challenges to manage. When this occurs, Managers need to support and work with Helpers while still ensuring they maintain their regular work performance. Once the initiative is rolled out, it enters the Post-Implementation period. Users then begin to apply and use the new processes and tools. For them, the use of, and resulting outputs from the new methods are not directly measured and tied to their job performance.
Measured Impact and Employee Roles
Measured Impact relates to Sales Force Transformations and some types of Performance Transformations. These initiatives are focused on increasing revenue, profits, and/or operating efficiencies. As with Non-Measured Impact, Helpers assist with Pre-Implementation activities. Once the program has been implemented, it enters the Post-Implementation phase. Helpers and other employees become active Users, and begin to perform to new expectations. Their activity and results are measured and directly tied to their job performance.
For companies that do not have a strong culture of accountability, Users that are not used to having their activities tracked and actively followed up on, often experience some degree of tension. This continues until they move up the experience curve and become comfortable with the new requirements in their roles. A significant amount of coaching and training is required for Users to support them through transition. Not only can front line employees struggle, but Managers can be challenged as well to operate in the new environment if they are unprepared for their evolved roles or are not able to overcome entrenched relationships with subordinates.
One interesting thing to note is a higher risk of failure exists for transformational change that falls under Measured Impact. This is due to the disruptive nature on the workforce and the shift to a performance-based environment.
What Managers Require
Companies that are successful at implementing transformational change ensure that their Managers (and Executives) receive change management training to prepare them to work with their staff. For Managers, it is particularly important they know that their leadership team will provide them with tools, guidance, and support they need as they adopt to the new realities of their management roles. This support should include:
- Awareness training about the type of transformational change the company is implementing.
- Awareness of new processes, tools and procedures that will be implemented to support the transformation for short and long term success.
- Identification of common challenges and scenarios that can occur with staff during Pre and Post-Implementation.
- Role simulations focused on how to manage and work with Users through a range of predictable scenarios that can occur.
Transformational initiatives can be completely derailed should Managers not understand how to operate in the new environment. Companies that are successful at implementing and sustaining transformational change take the time to prepare their Managers for the types of challenges that may emerge with staff as the company embarks on its new approach.
In the next blog, I will talk about the dangers of ignoring the human element when implementing transformational change.
This article is based on my forthcoming book Rethinking Change Management; How To Implement Transformational Change For Long Term Success, which will be publishing later this year. If you find this article helpful, please share and subscribe to our blogs and newsletter. Stay tuned for further details.
Also share your thoughts in the comments section below.