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Transformational Change can only work if the business and its people are change ready

Transformational Change can only work if the business and its people are change ready

Ramsey Hall & The Occupational Psychology Group is often asked to advise clients on transformational change initiatives.  Many organisations have had mixed outcomes when they have managed change initiatives themselves. This is most likely because the organisation is not change ready nor prepared for what is needed to attain value from the change management initiative.

Change readiness is not achieved by itself

In our experience organisations often fail to:

  1. Effectively diagnose their current state or map the desired outcome before designing the change intervention. For example, for a major client we identified that the reason why waste was so high was that they simply did not understand the negative impact First Line Managers were having on efficiency issues. For another client we used workshops to identify why staff turnover was so high.  We believe that an Enterprise Leadership mindset is critical as is having robust data to support the transformational change business case.
  2. Have both financial and non-financial resources in place to sustain the project.
  3. Understand the change readiness and capability of the leadership and management teams. This means that individuals who may resist change or are incapable of seeing change through are, nevertheless, tasked with leading change.
  4. Build a guiding coalition to implement change and energise people. Collaboration across functions is often conspicuously absent with silo mentalities in our experience being very prevalent.
  5. Continue to recruit the wrong people with ineffective leadership and ‘soft’ skills. How often do you see recruitment on ‘craft skills’ alone?
  6. Have robust “barrier busting” change agents who identify, tackle and destroy change barriers.
  7. Have a sense of urgency and priority around the change. “I don’t have time for it because I am too busy” is often unchallenged and sometimes even tacitly accepted.  This may be because individuals do not understand what the change initiative will mean to them or how they, as an individual, impact on the success of the project.
  8. Build a diverse change project team that can think at an enterprise level.
  9. Communicate openly with stakeholders, providing opportunities for feedback during the process. How often do you see the emotional wellbeing of stakeholders ignored?
  10. Have a clear plan to implement and sustain the change which is sponsored by the business. Clarity around accountabilities, objectives and authority is absolutely critical.

Transformational change needs stakeholder engagement

Ramsey Hall & The OPG often advise clients to prioritise people as well as process.  This is not mutually exclusive! However, many organisations ignore this fact when designing change management projects.

Our approach is to:

  • Assess key individuals in order to understand their capability and change readiness using psychometric assessment, or 360-degree feedback and semi structured feedback interviews. Appreciating the capability and motivation of stakeholders who affect the outcome of the transformational change programme is critical as it identifies both any barriers to change and what needs to be done to overcome them before the project begins.
  • Provide executive coaching to help coach leaders in the skills and mindset needed to sustain transformational change. We help individuals to understand what change means to them. How do they personally make a difference?
  • Consider the organisational culture and how it impacts on change. Our advice almost invariably is for the organisation to ensure robust company values, with competencies aligned with strategy, are embedded and used to inform recruitment and performance management.
  • Ensure business processes are efficient and aligned with the transformational change goals. This might include embracing new technology or implementing more robust systems.  Moreover, having the capacity and time to implement the change is vital.
  • Align transformational change initiatives around an overarching theme. A project that we are advising on has been termed as “The < company name> Way”.  This embraces multiple change workflows being designed to achieve a number of overarching outcomes such as better staff retention and productivity.
  • Design effective internal communication initiatives which make the change intervention relevant to stakeholders. When stakeholders understand how the project contributes to organisational success there is a higher level of engagement.  This communication must be two way and provide for feedback loops from stakeholders.  Communication is not just an email or intranet.  It is about consulting and having a meaningful dialog with stakeholders.  We also recommend extensive consultation with all colleagues from the very outset rather than employing a ‘tell strategy’.
  • Be willing to engage with expert consultants and not to assume internal colleagues will ‘figure out’ how to design and implement change. See our blog for more tips by clicking here.

Matthew Davis is the lead Consultant in the Ramsey Hall & The Occupational Psychology Group and is a part time Doctorial Researcher at The University of Sheffield in Organisational Psychology.  He can be contacted on 02380 236944 or email medavis@ramseyhall.com

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