What’s the most important part of change leadership?
That’s a tough question because so much goes into it and change leadership is often misunderstood. We have a whole change model called Change Project Management – The Next Step which is in a 10 pound book. It’s complicated.
Let’s start with the result. This result, if understood, is the driver for all change leadership activities.
The change leadership result we’re looking for is the assurance that everybody is ready to do their jobs.
Forgive me for getting really basic here. Today, everybody can do their job to some degree of competency. This is what makes the organization work. If you’re meeting revenue targets and the company is profitable, it’s because everyone is doing their job.
Someone is making a sale while someone is creating a management report, and someone else is manufacturing the product, and yet someone else is shipping that product. When the customer calls, someone answers their questions.
You know…the work.
Now, you introduce a change. Perhaps it’s a new workflow or a new computer system. When you decide on that new computer system you’re thinking about the benefits. Things like greater efficiency or more throughput. Those kinds of things.
A big question we have to explore at this early stage is what impact your change will have on the people who do the work and how well they will be able to accomplish those work tasks that get the job done.
We think we’re going to make things better. Often though there is a delay in getting to optimum efficiency in the new environment. How long is this period? Can we survive it? If the change project is done correctly every job will be addressed. This doesn’t always happen though.
What happens if because of the new computer system we can no longer make sales or collect accounts receivable, or support customers? Disaster.
If we are thinking about change readiness at the very beginning of a change initiative it guides our actions. Our communication is better. We build the links to strategy. We design workflows more comprehensively. We identify the important work and design around it. Training is better. We care about the work being done and protect that at all costs.
Basically we should devise tests and measurements of readiness so that a go/no-go decision can be made that considers the people of our organization, not just the technology change. If people aren’t ready we help them get ready. We want to be able to predict success rather than just winging it and hoping for the best.
By the way, being ready is very different from being trained. Getting through a generic training session and being able to perform my job are many times two different things.
As a leader you must consider readiness. Are your project people thinking about this? Let me know if you need some help setting up this mind set. It can change the way you change, for the better.
To do this week: For all your key projects ask the project manager or change leader what the process is for measuring the people side of change readiness. If they can’t show you the stats for each employee, their KPIs, and the tests they must pass before you will say “GO,” let’s talk about how to put this in place.
Let me know how it’s going. Click the “comments” box below to participate in an on-going discussion via LinkedIn.