Saturday 9 April 2016

How to Provide "the Right Amount" of Change Support

One of the challenges of providing change management support is that it requires people's time. Preparation activities  briefings, training, coaching  take people away from their roles and current responsibilities. The more change support they get, the less time they have to complete their tasks and achieve their goals. 

It's a fine balance between too much and too little assistance. If you provide too much then people get stressed and may choose to self-select out of activities; if you provide too little then people won't have the required mindsets, actions and behaviours to successfully adopt new ways of working.

I worked with an organization that was overloaded by its agenda. A long list of priorities spawned a large number of projects, many of which had insufficient resources. People were struggling to keep up with their work. Most went from meeting to meeting, apologizing for being five minutes late because of travel time. It was part of the company's culture.

I learned quickly that change activities needed to be integrated into people's realities. They must be targeted to individual needs and be easy to digest. If not, attendance will be inconsistent and transitions be flawed. The change plan that people will follow is always better than the 'perfect' one that they won't. 

Here are ways to minimize the time you take to prepare people for change:

  • Be clear on leader time commitments, gain agreement on them and schedule the activities in their calendars
  • Up front, be clear what each person needs to do differently for the changes to work
  • Provide only the support each person needs  nice-to-have activities or attendance is a luxury most businesses can't afford
  • Co-create the support plan with a few people who will go through it  their feedback on activities will avoid scope creep and ensure relevance
  • Schedule training as close as possible to when the change will be made  recency of learning affects application of new thinking, actions and behaviours. Also, refresher training requires additional time and money 
  • Incorporate activities in existing meetings  minimize the number of new meetings that people need to attend
  • Consolidate training into as few meetings as possible  An 180-minute session is more effective and efficient than two 90-minute ones held on different days
  • Adjust time requirements based on pilot sessions  shorten sessions if less time is needed; lengthen them only if outcomes can't be achieved

The main goal of change management it to prepare people to successfully take on changes with the least amount of disruption. Minimizing the disruption of people's schedules leads to greater participation, better preparation and less risk to operating results. Providing people with only the change support they need when they need it is a good start.


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