Updated: May 27
Achieving Employee Change Adoption in a major organisation change or transformation has mixed success and the ROI benefits are not always realised. The main objective of any change project is to deliver improved future performance by facilitating and enabling step improvement, from the current “a” state to the future improved “B” state. The improved future “B” state is about getting Change Adoption. It is about providing the employees with the new skills, behaviours and motivation so they are aligned with the organisation’s processes and systems. Leadership and sponsorship are key enablers to change success, articulating why the change is necessary and how it links to the strategy. Communication is one of the key levers to deliver successful Change Adoption, it is at the heart of successful change, it acts like the blood in our bodies, but instead of supplying vital oxygen and nutrients, communication supplies information and motivation that is imperative for successful change.
“For Change Adoption to be successful leadership need to ensure employees are supported to develop the new skills, behaviours and motivation that delivers improved future organisation performance” ~ Peter F Gallagher
The most important element of a successful organisation is its people, employees are an organisation’s key asset and offer core competitive advantage. Without them adopting the change, the organisation will not improve or make a return on their investment (ROI). Employees are the customer interface to deliver client value. Organisations that actively manage and nurture their client relationships are creating greater value for their shareholders. Change success will be accelerated by ensuring employees understand the strategy, have the right leadership as well as the new skills, behaviours and motivation.
~ New Skills: Developing the new skills and competencies is critical if employees are to carry out their new or modified roles using company processes and systems. The organisation must allocate a training budget that covers Training Needs Analysis (TNA), training design, delivery, coaching and assessment to ensure the required skills and competencies are in place
~ New Behaviours: A few new critical behaviours should be outlined early in the project as part of the change definition. It is vital that the sponsors, leaders and management visibly model these new behaviours themselves, right from the start of the project. They should articulate the connections between new behaviours and organisational success to the employees so they become part of the new culture and DNA of every employee
~ Motivation: With new skills and behaviours defined, the final part is to check the employees are motivated to ensure they are positively focused in doing their part to improve organisation performance. The organisation should put in place rewards for positive performance, cascaded from the Balanced Scorecard through to the employee’s Annual Personal Performance Plan. Provision should be made to ensure any remaining resistance is addressed appropriately with timely interventions to ensure success.
Effective and proactive sponsorship is one of the most important elements in project success and Change Adoption. In fact, without sponsorship the change project will eventually fail. There are three key elements to support change success: ‘Say’, ‘Support’ and ‘Sustain’.
~ Say: Sponsorship starts with providing vocal support for the change. The ‘Say’ is the foundation and is all about communicating the business case for the change to all affected stakeholders with special focus on the employees to ensure Change Adoption.
~ Support: Having built the foundation of communication, ‘Support’ builds on the ‘Say’, and it is in this element that the sponsor starts to actively and overtly support the change. The sponsor’s role is to ensure there is a budget to develop the new skills and competencies of the employees.
~ Sustain: Recognise and reward those who adopt new skills and behaviours as well as ensuring the employees remain motivated. Sponsors should also monitor Change Adoption across the organisation and perform the difficult task of intervening when the change is not being adopted.
Communication is one of the key levers to deliver successful Change Adoption. Communication should be a continuous process throughout the change and should start by providing an understanding into the business case for change and how it is aligned to the vision, mission and objectives. It is difficult to over communicate but a lack of communication breeds uncertainty, rumours, suspicion and resentment. Effective communication will use multiple channels, it will provide information quickly with clarity and will have a feedback loop that allows time for people to ask questions, request clarification and provide input. Communication should motivate and align employee roles with the change. Employees should feel valued, listened to, an important part of a cohesive team working towards a change common goal. These highly motivated employees will then be empowered and understand how their role delivers customer requirements and organisation success.
Leadership is a fundamental element in business success and achieving organisation Change Adoption is no different. Leaders are in a position of influence in the organisation and employees will expect them to take responsibility for driving the change. Leaders articulate and communicate the vision, the business case, strategy, what success looks like and emulate the new required behaviours. They should be the key Change Agents of the organisation, preparing and enthusing their employees for change. They should work closely with the change team and sponsor, constantly communicating the change through its implementation. Like the sponsor, they should recognise and reward positive behaviour but also intervene if there is resistance.
Strong business results can be achieved by aligning people, processes and systems and this should be a focus area of the change management approach. A business process is a collection of related, structured activities, steps or tasks that produce a specific organisational goal, service or product for a client or customer. Clearly defined processes allow organisations to produce quality work and products consistently which should increase customer satisfaction and profits. Inversely, processes with variation and waste cause customer complaints due to poor product quality or bad service. In turn this reduces profit, wastes resources and creates other knock on effects. Having capable efficient processes operated by competent people should be a change goal. Aligned employees and processes working in unison requires continuous process improvement, clearly document processes with KPIs and fully trained competent operators.
There are many ways of describing organisational systems. For the purposes of Change Adoption within an organisation, it is an organised, purposeful structure that consists of interrelated and interdependent elements. These elements (vary from organisation to organisation) repeatedly influence one another directly or indirectly to maintain their activity and the existence of the system to achieve their goal. These systems have inputs (employees, resources, technologies, etc.), processes (see above) and outputs. The outputs will be tangible results produced by the processes within the system such as a specific organisational goal, service or product. Other outputs could be changes in employee works roles, groups or functions. For Change Adoption to be successful, no change can be implemented in isolation as it will have an impact on the elements of the overall system in some way.
To ensure Change Adoption and that the project provides ROI benefits delivery and improved operating performance, a structured approach to change should be embraced. A structured Change Management Framework will support managed change and align the employee and the organisation. From the start, the framework can ensure the change programme and projects are aligned to strategy, through to Change Adoption. This will sustain the change at the future improved 'B' state ensuring ROI.
Peter F Gallagher is a Change Management Global Thought Leader, Expert, International Speaker, Author and Leadership Alignment Coach.
Ranked #1 Change Management Global Thought Leader: Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Change Management (May 2020) by Thinkers360.
Business Book Ranking: Change Management Pocket Guide - Leadership of Change® Volume 2, ranked within the top 50 Business and Technology Books (Jan 2020) from Thinkers360 Thought Leaders.