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8 Steps to Surviving Organizational Change: Part 3

In May, I launched a three part series called 8 Steps to Surviving Organizational Change. We decided to develop this series as most efforts to change the way a business operates fail. The first key to success, which was discussed in part 1, was to provide clear communication and leadership to your team regarding the change. The second key to success, which was discussed in part 2, was to empower your team members through leadership. Read below for my final steps.

3) Review your Technical Infrastructure.

Make sure your network and hardware is up to task for a successful implementation. The most consistent complaints about a new system can be exacerbated when your IT network and infrastructure is subpar. For optimal performance, confirm that your technical infrastructure meets your solution provider’s system requirements. In most cases, your solution’s performance will be reliant upon your network, internet connection and/or hardware. Many organizations will need to upgrade their IT infrastructure when implementing a new system. Even if your solution is totally web-native, it is imperative to make sure you are set for success. Why is this important? Having the right infrastructure ensures speed, reliability, availability and builds confidence in the solution. It also minimizes business disruptions, ensures you have the appropriate security to protect your business and optimizes the user experiences.  I have seen implementations derail due to a sub-optimal infrastructure. In these cases, it is often challenging to discern whether the issues have been caused by the new solution or the infrastructure, wasting valuable time in determining a solution.

Specific things you can do include reviewing system requirements, maximizing broadband speed (if you are a business, make sure you have business class broadband and internet speed), consider adding in redundancies and partner with a skilled hardware and network vendor if you are not large enough to employ your own team. Outdated systems and software impacts your security and performance. The right technology sets staff up to be productive, improves user acceptance and decreases down time. One final tip, do not simply meet the minimal technical requirements, make every effort to provide an optimal technical environment.

4) Make Training a Priority

There are at least seven accepted learning styles. Each person learns at a different pace and in a different way. Taking a “one size fits all” approach to training your team will result in inconsistent results. People learn at different paces and will require different levels and styles of training. Provide the right level of training to meet individual needs. Ask your team members how they learn best and as much as possible, try to accommodate this. Identify team members that will require more time and provide that to them. For those that learn best by doing and are technically savvy, take a more flexible approach. This doesn’t mean train every single person separately. Put people with similar learning styles into the same training track. You may not have to invest much training for your technically savvy learners at all. For those that need more assistance, take the time to train them properly up front. That time will be well spent. Always remember to provide job aides. Some folks like printed cheat sheets, others prefer to watch videos, while a few of your team members will want to watch someone else do it the first time. By accommodating their learning style, you will decrease the time to mastery and improve their job satisfaction.

Another major factor in learning success is having the right training environment. Make sure you have space dedicated to training where staff can train uninterrupted. If possible, provide dual monitors during the training period for those that want to follow along with a manual, e-learning module or webinar. If you are requiring staff to learn a system on their own time, make sure this expectation is clear. When possible, I strongly suggest dedicating time to training by either decreasing their assignments for a period of time, or if staff are required to complete training on their own, providing incentives or overtime so that people understand the value, and also understand that the company is making a financial investment in their success.

5) Plan, Plan, and Plan…

Most software and solutions providers will provide you with an implementation project plan. If the provider you have selected does not provide a plan to you, you will want to reconsider that provider. A project plan should be thought of as a high map to success.  Although it will include a lot of detail regarding what needs to be accomplished, it won’t include everything. You will want to review each phase of the plan and ensure there is a corresponding checklist of tasks that have to be accomplished during that phase. When reviewing the plan, take out a calendar and compare the dates for major milestones to the calendar. Make sure the dates on the plan are achievable. You want to be sure to account for holidays, vacations, weekends, and other projects. With any project there will be weeks that require more work than others. Making sure your team is aware ahead of time, and available, will go a long way towards ensuring your success.

6) The Go Live is simply the beginning…

While most people think the hard work is completed prior to going live with a new solution, that is almost never the case. In most solutions rollouts, it will typically take 6-8 weeks before a “new normal” is achieved. During this time, it is critical to remind your team that in the beginning, it may take longer to accomplish their tasks, but once they are used to the change, it will take less time. Continue to remind them of the WIIFM and why the change was made. Encourage your team to share successes and to catch people doing things right. This is a critical time to ensure the change is sticking and that the entire team is working together.

7) Establish a “new normal”

Once the dust has settled, make sure every team member and each role within your organization has updated job descriptions and established benchmarks for expected performance. It is critical to make sure the team clearly understands what their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are. In other words, make sure there are clear expectations for each role, and an objective way to measure each team member’s performance.  The right solution should provide you with an easy way to track team member’s performance and decrease the time it takes to identify any outliers. In most cases, this is probably part of the reason you selected a new solution in the first place.

8) Review your Goals, again

When the project is complete, take time to review the goals you established at the beginning of the project. Have you achieved them? If not, you will want to determine the appropriate next steps. These next steps will vary depending on a number of factors, including an understanding of what was missed and why it was missed. In some cases, you may want to determine the root cause of why the goal wasn’t achieved and create a mitigation plan. In other cases, you may have achieved the majority of goals and determined that this is good enough. Either way, reviewing your goals on an ongoing basis to ensure you have achieved them is a great habit to develop for any organization.

Best of luck!

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