Change management tips – building the user journey

You may have heard the term ‘change journey’ before.  This describes the phase that an organisation will go through in making complex organisational, process and behavioural change.

Why describe this as a journey?

Whatever happens within the organisation – technical changes, new operating models, new systems and ways of working, it’s unlikely to be a straightforward move from A to B.  Many things will occur during the timeframe that will affect the transition, meaning the pace of change and resistance to it will vary – and things can be pretty unpredictable.

So why not apply the same principle to the people experiencing the change?  For employees to successfully change the way they work, they need to be supported in many ways.  This could involve classroom or online learning, support from managers or peers, regular communications or opportunities to share ideas.  Whatever these tactics are, they will need to be many and varied to be successful, and they should be staggered over time; designed to continually engage without being overpowering.

People going through change are essentially going on a voyage of discovery, and to help them navigate it there are a number of principles that you can apply to ensure they reach the desired outcomes.

1. Set foundations

Clarify the need for change, and be open and honest about it.  This may involve sharing bad news or information which might make people feel uncomfortable about the present state of the nation, but this will help them come to terms about the need to do something differently.  This is best coming from the leaders of the organisation – seeing them being open and transparent about change can really help get them onboard.

The outcome here is a universal, company-wide understanding of the rationale for change.

2. Create a ‘pull’

Develop a curiosity among your employees.  Show them what the change might mean for them – and do it creatively.  Try animations or video to bring the new way of working to life, and enhance this with roadshows so people can share their thoughts, concerns or ideas.

The outcome here is that people become interested and want to know more.

3. Develop capability

Understand the skills that people will need to thrive.  Drip feed it through the organisation using innovative new ways of sharing information – theory is great, but bring it to life using real life scenarios.  Think about a variety of media such as animation, infographics, live presentations and role plays – it doesn’t always have to be elearning alone.

The outcome is that people are aware of what they need to do differently.

4. Reinforce learning

Be proactive in developing methods to support people’s learning experience.  A ‘one and done’ approach often doesn’t work.  They’ll need opportunities to interact with and ask questions of colleagues, leaders and those further ahead on their change journey.  This might include a team of people to support colleagues through transitionary stages with subject matter expertise.  People need to know they are being supported rather than left to their own devices.

The outcome is that people are not only aware of what they need to do differently, but have had the chance to demonstrate some of the new skills or behaviours and talk about it with colleagues.

5. Sustain for the future – reward

The change project will eventually come to a close, and that can often mean an end to the tactics and support referred to in this blog.  It doesn’t have to be though – work with team leaders to identify ways in which the required skills and behaviours are not only still mandated, but recognised and rewarded.  Team leaders hold the key and you will need to make it easy for them to continue to champion the change and make it part of the way they naturally operate.

 

Hope you find this useful.  Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss any of the tactics listed here, or share your ideas.

 

We frequently post our thoughts, ideas and tips on: change management, learning and communications, PMO/CMO, employee engagement and culture.

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Culture Change Series: 5 reasons why culture is integral to business change

How many change programmes integrate work on organisational culture?  We increasingly think ‘not enough’.

There are some obvious reasons why culture is a bit of a Cinderella at the Change Management ball.  It can be tricky to understand and work with; it’s seen as more than a little intangible; and its reach is far wider than that of most change programmes.  Beyond that, cultures do not often change quickly – change programmes come and go while cultures persist or change slowly.  But if Afiniti’s recent Culture Change event is anything to go by, those involved in leading change are increasingly recognising the importance of culture.  With bookings for our event coming in fast, followed by a waiting list of eager participants, we knew we were dealing with a topic of real concern.

So, why should organisations pay more attention to culture? Afiniti’s experience suggests there are at least five reasons.

1. The link between culture and performance

First, there are swathes of evidence that link organisational (and functional, and team) culture to performance.  Simple searches throw up research suggesting, for example:

  • Culture, by linking to our motivations – why we work – determines how well we work
  • Culture is a powerful route to sustainable competitive advantage because it’s difficult to copy
  • Surveys suggest the majority of managers and leaders see culture as more important than strategy or operating model.

2. Culture as an integral element of business strategy

Second, culture is (or really ought to be) an integral element of strategy.  It’s 30 years since Henry Mintzberg highlighted ‘Perspective’ – ‘an ingrained way of perceiving the world’ – as an important way of thinking about strategy, tying it to culture and collective mind (individuals united by common thinking and / or behaviour).  And if culture is integral to strategy, how can it not be taken into account by change managers?

3. Cultures are naturally fluid and change over time

Third, organisational cultures change and will continue to change over time whether or not leaders and change managers are intentional about it.  We don’t need to be experts in generational theory to recognise that as boomers leave the workplace in large numbers and Generations X, Y and Z reshape organisations, so working cultures will change with radically different expectations, priorities and attitudes to technology.  The question facing change leaders is how their actions will interact with ongoing cultural change: will change programmes merely be impacted by, or will they play a role in shaping cultures that are changing anyway.

4. Culture can affect readiness and capability for change

Fourth, Afiniti’s own work identified culture as one of six key change readiness ‘levers’.  We’ve found that some cultures are more ‘change-ready’ than others, more able and willing to embrace change.  We know that where organisations are more ‘change-ready’ across all six levers, of which culture is one, then change is more likely to land and is more likely to stick and deliver the benefits sought.  But, so often understanding of cultural readiness for change is no more than impressionistic – with little – if any, analysis, let alone structured responses to shape and evolve culture to become more change-ready over time. Learn more about your organisation’s capability and readiness for change by taking our Change Readiness Assessment.

5. It is possible to demystify culture

Finally, culture can matter in change programmes, to business and change leaders, because it doesn’t have to be a given.  There are ways of demystifying culture – making it more tangible, in order to plan and effect culture changes that work.  At our recent event we explored some of these models and approaches and a number of participants commented on how they ‘demystified’ culture and the ways in which it might be changed.  And if we can understand and shift something that impacts not just on the success of our change programmes but contributes to overall business performance, then why wouldn’t we be intentional about it?

This is the first of three blogs.  In the remaining two we’ll explore what we mean by culture – offering ways of thinking about and working with it – and flowing from that some ways to effect cultural change.  In the meantime, what do you think about the role that culture plays in change initiatives?  Have you worked with it?  Let us know what you think.

If you’re thinking about cyber security, you should also think about behaviour change

It’s no longer an option to view cyber attacks as something that happens to someone else, some other organisation, or just a technical issue.  It’s now standard practice for all large organisations to have measures in place to protect themselves and their assets, and these measures often include an element of culture and behaviour change .

I’ve recently been involved in a project where I helped a client change the way their workforce viewed cyber security and embed a set of new highly-secure behaviours.

The project has been very successful and I’ve even found my own behaviour changing as a result – I’ve signed up for a password manager and my laptop is now a veritable fort knox!

So what do we mean by cyber security?

In its simplest terms, cyber security is the protection of an individual’s or organisation’s cyber assets.

To protect cyber assets you need to worry about physical security as well as cyber security.  This is where you need to think about the culture and behaviours of the organisation – there’s no point having great firewalls in place, if you leave the door to your server room open!

What is a cyber threat?

There are a number of different types of cyber threat, including state-sponsored attacks, insider threats, cybercrime, cyberterrorism, physical threats (staff members leaving doors or computers unlocked) and ‘hacktivism’ (hacking a system for social or political gain). Each company will have a different profile in terms of which of these threats are the most probable and how serious the consequences of a breach could be.

How does an organisation protect itself against cyber attack?

If people don’t understand, endorse and actively support cyber security consistently throughout an organisation, it’s just a matter of time before the best of systems will be compromised.

As change professionals, the area we add value is in helping our clients identify and embed the behaviours that will support the other measures (such as technological protection) they have in place. This isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ – if people don’t understand, endorse and actively support cyber security consistently throughout an organisation, it’s just a matter of time before the best of systems will be compromised.

Affecting large-scale behavioural change

Let’s be clear about one thing: change is hard! I get uncomfortable changing my brand of toothpaste. So effecting meaningful, lasting change can’t just be a top-down approach.  For behaviours to adapt, and for change to be truly adopted, all affected staff need to take ownership and understand the importance of the change.

Here are some key methods and approaches we use at Afiniti to help our clients ensure long-term and sustainable behavioural change is achieved across the whole organisation.

1.       Build sustainable toolkits and communications

This can’t be a one-off short-burst campaign, it needs to be rolled out over a period of time for the desired behaviours to become embedded as second nature.

To help maintain a high level of interest throughout the project, try a mix of communication styles from hard-hitting and informative to softer, more subliminal messaging.

And lastly, by using a blend of channels and methods, plus appropriate language and tone, you can ensure your key messages reach all intended audience groups.

2.       Co-create and utilise real people to generate awareness and validate the programme

Take the time to understand people’s opinions and insights into their areas of work, and then involve them in the project planning and execution. This way you’ll not only gain a more rounded understanding of the business needs, but people will feel invested in the project from the beginning.

Once people feel on board and understand the importance of the changes, work with them to create content such as short videos and workshops.  This type of user-generated content can really help with marketing to external audience groups, so why not reap the benefit for your internal communications efforts too?  It’s often cheaper, more authentic and more trusted by internal audiences.

Check out our vBlog of top tips for creating user-generated content

3.       Use creative and eye-catching visual assets

As they say ‘an image can convey a thousand words’ and this is certainly true when you’re trying to present a set of important key messages. Trying to condense a long white paper into a punchy animation or presentation can be a difficult thing to do, but it also forces you to concentrate on the things that really matter and helps to bring ideas and concepts to life.

4.       Create a security champions network

By giving tools and training to a group of security champions, you can create a community which supports the wider workforce on a day-to-day basis.  The champions can share experiences, best practice and be a point of call for questions, ideas and concerns. It also really helps to see respected colleagues modelling the desired behaviours.

Read our article on Making change stick by getting the whole team on board

It’s important to bear in mind that changing behaviours and mindsets doesn’t happen overnight, these things take time to embed. The tools and approaches above will help you maintain momentum and create the emotional engagement you need to embed the desired ways-of-working on a permanent basis.

If you have any interesting insights, or experiences of behaviour change related to cyber security, we’d be interested in hearing from you, so leave us a comment.