As your business grows, change happens. Some changes are organic, gradual and easy to implement. Others can be met with outrage and culture shock. This happens a lot in the world of technology. As systems change and software and hardware get upgraded, we hear a lot of complaining of how it used to be.
So why change? Maybe your software is not being supported anymore. Maybe you’ve outgrown your current technology and need to upgrade because your killing it in business. Congrats. Whatever the case, rolling out a new technology is especially hard for staff that has been accustomed to doing things a certain way for a long time. We are creatures of habit. We like things to be less work and let’s face it, learning a new system is just more work! It’s not just technology, new management can impact the culture of a business. The visions of a new leadership team can crush a team, or lift its spirits, depending on how it’s received by the staff.
I recently had lunch with a good friend in the business of OCM (Organizational Change Management). Anne Kelly spends her days helping companies make the “people changes” they need to grow. Anne and I work on similar projects from different sides. Anne works on the “people” side of things while I work on the “tech “side.
Anne had recently attended a seminar on maintaining operational excellence. Long story short, the seminar was about the process improvement journey, and how a culture needs to transform to make process improvement part of the organization’s DNA. But the seminar focused on a tool that could be used to document process flows and see how often they are accessed or updated. A tool, no matter how nifty it is, will not transform your culture. Culture is a set of beliefs, customs, and practices that are ingrained in the people of the organization. To transform an organization, whether through process improvement, RPA (robotic process automation), ERP systems, or re-organizing the structure itself, you have to focus on the people. This is where Organizational Change Management (OCM) comes in.
“People often think that OCM is just communication and training. If you train people on a new system and tell them it’s coming, they will magically just do things differently. Think about the people in your organization…does that sound like enough to change their beliefs, behaviors, and practices? OCM has to start at the top; with the Leadership team. If you don’t start with coaching the leadership team on what the desired behaviors and traits are, then your change has stalled before it ever got started. The leadership team needs to be champions of the change, and they have to drive it.” Says Anne
OCM also needs to focus on the organizational and individual KPI’s. Let’s say for instance you are implementing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. In order for a system like this to work, people need to add all of their contacts to the CRM and maintain that data on a regular basis. You can ask the employees to do this, and they might, but it’s a hit or miss strategy. What if instead you measure data related to new and updated contacts and tie their bonus or performance increase, at least in part, on the number of contacts they add and update every year. Imagine the behavior change this would drive!
Now you have the leadership championing the change. You have new metrics designed to fit the future of your business and your strategic vision. Change is hard, and typically takes a lot of mental and emotional work. The key here is that you cannot over-communicate, and you must communicate utilizing different channels (email, in person meetings, department meetings, video boards, etc.). Think about this – we remember:
- 20% of what we hear (passive)
- 30% of what we see and hear (passive)
- 70% of what we say and write (active)
- 90% of what we say as we do (active)
Anne says “Once go-live hits, there is going to be a dip in performance while everyone works out the kinks. During this phase, it’s important to be patient, answer people’s questions, and do not get frustrated. One Harvard Business review article claimed that changes to your culture can take 5 – 10 years, so don’t forget adoption is key.”
This is, of course, is just a brief overview of things to think about when considering Organizational Change Management.
For more information on the Technology side, you can contact Jim Penttila @ Jimmy@bitsbusinessit.com