A 2011 study by the Economist Intelligence Unit found that 77 percent of organisations launched more than two change initiatives over the prior 12 months. Of these companies, 47 percent increased, some significantly, resources for significant change initiatives. However, only half of the change initiatives were successful.
This is an indication that change management strategies to reduce costs, increase revenue and regain market share,will only be effective in the absence of organisational inertia. Management has to ensure that the change management they implement are able to gain traction among the staff members before hoping to see any returns on investment.
A key objective which cannot be absent from change management best practices is a change in behaviour in the organisation. A systematic approach to changing behaviours across hundreds, or even thousands of employees can reap significant results. Sales turnover may be tripled, profits boosted by better customer service, accompanied by a double-digit spike in the customer engagement index.
Management executives need to realise that behavioural change cannot be achieved purely from formal learning alone. Corporate learning systems need to be broken into different phases:
- formal learning workshops or events to equip employees with the necessary knowledge
- alignment of the behavioural change for maximum positive impact to the business
- sustenance of the behavioural change by applying tools and other reinforcement methods to make the learning “stick”, long enough till the change management effort starts to pay off
Generally, organisations do not succeed from change management because they did not focus on the aligning and sustaining stages of learning. For change management to work, an organisation needs to focus on these two crucial stages of learning to effect behaviour changes that drive performance improvement.
The next step is to make sure that results are measurable, so that one can determine if the implemented change management strategy has been effective. Senior stakeholders must first agree and define which behaviours will drive the execution of their strategy, and how these behaviours will be measured.
To achieve this, it is important to get the right people in on one conversation: executive sponsors, business leaders, subject-matter experts, core team members, people in analytic roles, and people representing marketing, finance and strategy functions. All key stakeholders need to start on the same page before commencing the change management effort.
Getting the key stakeholders together gives them the opportunity to agree on and create a concrete plan of action for effecting and measuring behaviour change, including key metrics, how they will be tracked and by whom, and how the results will be compiled and reported to stakeholders.
Clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of each department helps the organisation move quickly and efficiently from talk to action. After gaining alignment, the key stakeholders should then choose the learning methodology and content that will equip staff with the skills they need to support the change.
It is important to extend the learning beyond the classroom to include applied learning in the form of projects. E-learning, podcasts, web classrooms and social media are important and powerful tools to advance behavioural change. Driving the development of extended and blended learning solutions helps particpants build a solid foundation of skill and knowledge, allowing them to adopt the behaviours required to execute the change.
Finally, stakeholders would need to work closely together to carve an approach, best suited to the organisation, for the sustainment phase to ensure that the required behavioural change becomes permanent in order to yield the positive results from a change management exercise.