In my posting last week, I discussed why change is hard. The posting received many interesting comments; some agreed that change was hard, others did not. One of the things I really like about the Internet and Blogs is the diversity of opinion that a person can peruse to find what is useful for them self. Today, I would like to discuss some ideas on motivating people for change, and a supportive framework that helps foster change.
Several people that commented on last week’s posting mentioned that one of the most important things about change is helping people understand why change is necessary. I quite agree; without understanding why change is needed it is difficult to help people become motivated. However, there is another piece to this puzzle, getting people motivated about change: what is in it for them! If people do not know how they will benefit, or even worse believe that they will not benefit, change becomes even harder.
For example, if employees believe that by becoming more efficient, some of them will lose their jobs just try to get them motivated! On the other hand, if they feel that their lives will be easier or that their may be increases in pay or bonuses connected to increased efficiency, motivation becomes possible.
Beyond motivation, one of the reasons that change is hard is that often there is no framework within which change happens and is supported. Simply telling someone to change what they are doing will not work in most cases. I suggest using the following set of questions to help people understand how to change and what must be done in order for change to last.
What is the end result of change? In other words, how will the end result be different after the change? If the company is looking for more efficiency, then the end result might be shorter process time. If the company is looking for better quality, then the end result will be fewer or no defects or less rework, for example. Involving those in the process in determining what the end result will be is the most advantageous approach.
What must change? How must the process that the employee is working on change in order to produce the end result? How must the work of others change in order to produce the end result?
What kind of communication must be put in place to achieve the change? Change usually involves more than one person, department, or even more than one company. How will these groups communicate?
How will change be measured? Change that cannot be measured will not last long term.
How will change affect the person’s current work schedule? Change requires time; often change will actually impede a person’s normal work load and slow them down. Frequently change will make things look worse before improvement takes place. Being cognizant of this effect helps overcome inertia.
What tools are needed to support change? Change often works in the short run, but not in the long term. The authors of the article referenced in last week’s article believe that the more often that the progress of a change project are reviewed, the better that the change project will go. They recommend that reviews should be no less frequent than every 2 weeks. In addition to reviews, other tools can be used to support change, including checklists, reminders and process flows. In a small company, having one person be responsible for tracking change could help to keep others moving along the change path.
More important than anything else is ensuring that change is guided with a supported framework that assists people as they work to make change permanent.
* The Hard Side of Change Management; Sirkin, Keenan and Jackson. Harvard Business Review, October 2007