We meet many senior HR and L&D leaders in the course of a typical business quarter and many that we have spoken to over the last eighteen months often raise the same two key issues that they have not managed to resolve: How to ensure large change initiatives embed sustainably and how to show the impacts of these interventions on the business at large. This post helps move the first of these questions forward significantly. Our next post will look at how to provide rich, accurate and real-time data on the progress and impacts of the change process.
Latest figures suggest that 88% of organisational change initiatives fail completely or have to re-draw their success criteria significantly when it becomes clear that the initiative is failing to get even close (Bain, 2016). The results, including the workforce being increasingly worn down by the constantly moving goal-posts and ultimately they will withdraw from the process, mean that around 15% of the financial investment in all organisational change initiatives are actually written off.
The problem as we see it, is that change is expected to be brought about by individuals and yet change programmes are often aimed at the collective level, namely the organisation.
It's all wrong.
You need human beings to change. You need to be able to reach each and every individual that you want to engage in the change process, in order to influence and support them along that path. Individuals need regular checking-in to see where they need help. Those same individuals also need to be held accountable for making the change the organisation wants to see.
Getting personal is critical to changing organisations effectively.
The challenge is how you provide this 'high touch' element that reaches everybody, across really large organisations. There are two ways to do that: through your leaders and through a vehicle that allows individuals to engage regularly with the change programme in a way that helps change feel less like an "event" and more like BAU (business as usual). We think the power of combining these two key elements is critical to your success.
Let me share a true story we heard about six weeks ago. A senior leader of a bank here in London, was part of a one thousand strong leadership cohort that was going through an organisational change initiative. There were three parts to his 'induction' to the change process. The first part failed to engage him to the point that he told us he was not going to attend the second and third parts of the process.
That's not ok. That's not what leaders of character would do. And you really need the right kind of leaders to support you through the change process. Particularly when it is not going well. Developing the right kind of people to support change becomes a key part of the change process. The best time to develop such leaders? Yesterday.
The other challenge you have as a leader of a large change programme is how to reach all of those you need to reach. Traditionally "reach" has been achieved through sheep-dipping large groups at a series of "launch" events. That's an expensive and pretty ineffective strategy for achieving very much, other than raising awareness.
A better solution is to employ a personalised, digital approach that allows individual leaders to receive feedback in real-time, so they can see how they are progressing and where they still need some work. Coupled this digital BAU vehicle, with on-demand coaching support and you have an incredibly powerful combination that helps embed change in the long-term, efficiently.
At Performance Edge, we have such a system, we call it Coaching Live!When you need to embed organisational change we can provide you with a smart way to ensure all your leaders are engaged and actively helping embed change across your whole organisation.