Top Tips for motivating people during change

The rapid pace of change means that inspiring people and giving them what they need to succeed has never been more important.

Here’s what you might consider when developing and delivering change to people through learning, communications and change management:

Make it meaningful – Make the move from ‘this is what you need to do’, to ‘this is why we are doing this’ and ‘this is how we plan to do it and this is what it will mean for you’.

‘Why’ is always more inspiring than ‘what’, giving you the chance to weave in the big picture. This speech by Simon Sinek confirms just how powerful ‘why’ really is. His theory? People buy into why you do something not what you do.

Align everything from Learning to Engagement –  Avoid the common pitfall of making the learning all about the technology. Every time you connect with people is a chance to build bridges and get your message across and get their feedback. Every aspect of delivery should be connected, from PPM to change management, to learning to communications and engagement.

Key tip for this: Consider scenario based learning because it will help people connect what they do every day to what is changing. They can see how their job might be made better.

Allow for reflection and questioning – If the learning and comms is facilitative rather than directive there will be more interaction and conversation and people need  opportunities to get involved to stay motivated. It helps if the facilitator is comfortable if the workshop or learning session goes in unplanned directions, because this is when it gets really relevant and interesting for people.

Test your assumptions – In 1960, Douglas McGregor identified a set of management assumptions, Theory X and Theory Y, about staff motivation.

Managers with Theory X assumptions behave as though they think their staff hate working, avoid responsibility, lack ambition and need controlling and direction.

Managers with Theory Y assumptions think people appreciate encouragement, seek work place fulfilment, are creative and assume responsibility in the right environment.

Theory Y thinking brings out the best in people so it’s worth thinking positively like this when communicating during change and encouraging middle managers to support their people during change.

Celebrate wins and encourage early adopters to be positive role models. Always highlight the milestones clearly as it gives people a sense of being on a journey and makes everything seem a bit more winnable.

What tips do you have for encouraging and motivating people during change?

4 things to consider during project planning

During projects, a whole host of things can go wrong: scope creep, lack of commitment from your sponsors, resistance to change from stakeholders… the list goes on.

But we know that not all business change outcomes are under the control of the project team; some organisations are just not set up for successful projects. To make sure your project doesn’t become another failure statistic, it’s worth carrying out a ‘health check’ as part of project planning, looking at some of the key aspects affecting change.

You can’t immediately change a company’s leadership or culture but you can uncover potential issues, areas that will need your focus and ways you may be able to use your influence for a better outcome.

Business Alignment

Of course, projects should only go ahead if clear business benefits and drivers have been identified. Do they stand up to scrutiny? Can they be clearly articulated? And who are they actually benefiting?

An Afiniti colleague was telling me only the other day about an organisation he worked for where the IT team routinely advised the business of their next project, but usually didn’t get a response – and didn’t expect one. They ploughed on with each project regardless because, after all, they were the experts; they knew why they were doing it, even if the end-users didn’t!

project planning



How true are the following statements in your organisation?

  • Leaders talk to us; we have good visibility of company performance and plans.
  • Senior executives are skilled and experienced in the leadership of change and change programmes.

It’s beyond the remit of a project team to tackle leadership culture head-on, but it can support leaders to fulfil their role in change. Make sure that your project communications explicitly align the benefits to wider plans and performance but keep them relevant to your audience.

Name-check leaders (with permission!), suggest to them the enormous benefit of leadership visibility on roadshows, town-halls, even videos. This brings us neatly to…


Is there a culture and widespread practice of encouraging honest two way feedback?  If there isn’t, introduce a mechanism for your project to garner employee views throughout the life of your project, not just at the end. Most importantly – act on it and be seen to do so.


Are people provided with the learning they need to deal with business change and new technology? Don’t make assumptions, even based on previous projects – know your users!

For example, we were rolling out new laptops and a Windows upgrade for an organisation a few years ago and their IT department was pretty insistent training wasn’t required. They were wrong, which resulted in an upsurge of calls to the help desk at ‘go live’. They’d made an assumption based on how they thought technology was used, not on the reality.

Carry out your own analysis of user needs, to make a compelling case for your choice of learning approach.

These are just some of the aspects of change that can pose a real threat to the likely success of a project or programme. They’re the reason our industry has the change readiness assessment: to see how prepared an organisation is for the impact of projects and programmes of change.

It’s a rare organisation where change is always implemented smoothly but a project planning team does have it in their power to affect the outcome and maybe even influence how change is dealt with in the future – as long as you’ve done your homework.


Further resources

Online change readiness assessment

Business Change Newsletter April

Welcome to the April 2015 edition of Afiniti’s Business Change newsletter. This month’s feature: Practical tips on benefits management and benefits realisation.

For more conversation on business change, you can join our Change Management, Communications and Learning group on LinkedIn here. For change management tips and our vacancies, you can follow our company page on LinkedIn.

Afiniti is an award-winning business change consultancy that delivers change with a people focus, producing sustainable changes in behaviour, mind-sets and working practices.

Company News

mark Wheeler AfinitiWe welcomed Mark Wheeler to the team. Mark supports our PPM practice and brings capabilities in Business Process Improvement and change management. His industry expertise includes oil and gas and he has worked to deliver many large scale, complex change programmes.

We are currently recruiting for a permanent change communications consultant. Find out more here.


This month’s in depth article: Practical tips on delivering change and benefits management

MOOCManaging benefits using change management principles will show the current state clearly and the reason for the change, through to how the change will be managed and delivered to achieve business goals.

Identifying, tracking and ultimately realising benefits needs a range of tools and techniques. Here are some that will help you drive benefits realisation:


What does success look like? Soft benefits are always important but to justify the change and demonstrate business benefit, the trick here is to be as quantitative as possible. For instance, if you are implementing new technology, you might want figures to show how many people are using the system in what way. Most crucial – Does everyone agree on what success looks like?

Quick Suggestions:

  • During Discovery, we tend to ask stakeholder groups what success means to them. We can make these conversations edgier by challenging them to actually quantify it (both hard and soft achievements).
  • Gather and compare suggestions across stakeholder groups and use this input in a session with Programme leaders, to agree key achievements and their measures. This informs the change/comms approach and is communicated back across the Programme community. You will likely find that key stakeholder groups may have quite different and diverse views on what ‘success’ means. We find this useful for showing people early on what a journey is actually ahead.


Outline how you’ll measure success right from the start. Knowing the current state then comparing it to the desired state will help you measure progress throughout and benefit derived, after the project/programme finishes.

Quick Suggestion:

  • Consider a storyboard to help people talk consistently about change describing ‘how things are now,’ outlining the risks of doing nothing. This keeps the reasons for the change, the current state and the future benefits in people’s minds.
  • Illustrate the case for change with infographics which compare the business’ activity with what the competition’s doing. This can make the drivers for the change and the benefit sought really clear and imperative.
  • Communicate the milestones for success across the stakeholder community through the programme newsletter for example, showing how each project is progressing against these milestones, with thermometer graphics or other visual indicators.


Roles and responsibilities – Identify the benefit owner and the other roles for people during change. Key tip – clearly defining people’s roles at the outset will save time and reduce risk later on.

Quick suggestions:

  • We’d normally produce a ‘who’s who’ of change for a Programme, if the client hasn’t got one already.
  • The process of photographing and interviewing each member of the team can take a bit of time, but it will pay off.
  • Collect each person’s take on their role, the difference they think they’re making to the Programme and their personal aspirations for change.
  • For team members, it is a nice way for each person to get respect for their role/contribution – the spotlight shines on the quiet achievers as well as the natural leaders.

Through this work you will build rapport with the people whose help you’ll be needing throughout the programme.


Identify your enablers and your blockers to seeing through change.

The Champions/Loose Cannons/Bystanders is matrix useful for this (click here – K Thompson et al 1999). Invest resource in the Champions, even though it’s counter intuitive. It makes sense if time is limited because when you find true ‘Champions’, it can be more powerful to equip them and get them talking, than to spend time chipping away at the ‘bystanders’ directly.


How will you actively report on progress towards benefits realisation?

Quick suggestions:

  • A dashboard style update is the most no nonsense approach, hosted online so people know it’s up to date.
  • Make it a regular corner of a weekly/monthly update.Then always back that up with a team session where project leaders can tell the stories behind the results.

Example: we produced a monthly chat show-style webcast for the first 12 months of a programme involving a new operating model. The leadership talked through results across the new Industry Sectors. The results had been posted online ahead of the show and they weren’t always good news. The webcast format allowed people to email in questions and comments which the leadership could respond to live.


Who will the change affect? Change management practices are vital in understanding how employees will be affected. Employee adoption is often a direct measure of the benefit of change. This should be among the Change Team’s first three questions. Once you understand how change will manifest for each job role, you’re on the road to knowing exactly who to talk to and how.

Quick suggestion

‘Change Journeys’ can be tailored to a Project and audience on a programme with any ‘journey’ graphic automatically populated by info from a database. This is one of the reasons why creative treatment is so important; it brings change to life and demonstrates the benefits, and progress towards them, during the programme. Crucially, tailored comms addressing different stakeholder needs in this way will address the important ‘what’s in it for me’ question.


You will spot that effective change management focuses on identifying the benefits and the impact of change at the outset, and then on tracking, monitoring and keeping the business drivers and goals top priority throughout a programme, to make sure the business gets the most from change.


Recent insights

impact of redundanciesFive tips for reducing the impact of redundancies

Five key tips for minimising the impact of upheaval on the business and the people remaining.

delivering change across silosAvoiding silos when delivering change

Consultant Jon Reeve looks at how to avoid silos when delivering system and process change to people.

Afiniti regularly blogs on the topic of change management with practical tips for benefits realisation and delivering change with a people focus. Subscribe here:


Free resources

Preparing for change. Free online change readiness assessment 

Engaging and Communicating with your audience – Communications reference guide

Five tips for reducing the impact of redundancies

Large scale redundancies are all too common in business, especially in the North Sea at the moment. They mean huge uncertainty and massive change for remaining employees. So, how can we make it easier for them and help minimise the impact of redundancies on a business?

Firms facing large personnel losses will need to manage the loss of talent and knowledge. There can also be a risk of low morale and a drop in employee engagement which can have serious consequences for performance and productivity.

But risk can be reduced by change management activities which help prepare the business and its people for the changes ahead.

Here are 5 tips for reducing the negative impact of streamlining on the business:

  • Get under the skin of the challenges facing the business. This is about really knowing the business; its people, its culture and heartbeat. Carrying out an impact analysis, stakeholder mapping and training needs analysis will help you identify where skills and knowledge might be lost when employees leave and where and how to focus your engagement and communication efforts.
  • Give staff a roadmap of change. Large scale change can cause huge uncertainty. Outlining what to expect in a roadmap helps people to see the reasons behind the changes and the vision for the future. Interactive roadshows are ideal for breathing life into the roadmap and creating conversations; ensuring communication is two way. Leadership needs to communicate its vision in a way that inspires and involves people and that means getting in front of them and giving them a chance to air their concerns, be heard and get some answers.
  • Regular, relevant and engaging internal communications. Carry out a channel analysis and provide what the audience want, in the way they want and when they want it.  Rebrand existing collateral where needed and be creative to really showcase the value and pride that staff have in their work and company.
  • Take a pulse check. Are your communications having the reach and impact they need to? Have you implemented measurement? Use a survey or other tools to carry out a ‘pulse check’ and measure against established metrics. This will give valuable insights and feedback but you must act on it. Employees must be meaningfully involved with change and be able to have genuine input.
  • Knowledge sharing. Large scale change can mean a loss of valuable skills, knowledge and talent. It’s important to engage with those going and those staying. Multi-media will bring knowledge transfer and training and learning to life and provide active knowledge share capability. Create ‘pride stories’ and the desire to leave a legacy in the form of great knowledge transfer. For those staying, establish where the gaps in knowledge exist and maximise opportunities for them to ‘be a sponge’ before their colleagues leave. This will help retain the expertise and knowledge of ‘how things are done around here,’ which inevitably are not documented in any process.

Large scale redundancies are challenging for remaining employees and there needs to be careful and consistent change management and a real focus on people. How you know them, involve them, prepare them and deliver to them will affect future profitability.


Further resources:

Take our free online Change Readiness Assessment