Change Management – What is Needed for Successful and Permanent Change in a Company?
Individual change is never easy, people get in a grove and changing behavior is always difficult. Corporate change, of many individuals, is many times harder and requires skills, discipline and a plan, or specific vision, of what the change will look like. Change Management is an art, not a skill really. It involves many aspects of psychology, management, leadership and is real work that needs resources and discipline. However, the dividends of moving a culture to begin use proven high-performance strategies is huge.
Organizational Change Management (OCM) or just CM is actually now a specialty and profession because almost all improvements require some change in culture, which can be difficult. Most people prefer to stay the same, in their comfort zone. Maybe 5 to 10% of people are proactive about change, improving and "self-actualized", where they embrace and drive change. As a company that installs Management Systems to drive improved performance our job is changing individual, department and corporate behavior to leverage proven best practices. It often takes some pain (like "bottoming out" for addiction) to drive change.
CEOs and senior management need to be the change drivers. They need to do that in several ways including individually coaching managers through their personal growth that can be passed down to their subordinates too. I estimate maybe 50% of a CEO's job is about people recruiting, development and driving change - it is never ending. Most companies stagnate and go sideways for years, or even decades, because the management team has no effort to actively improve. (i.e. Working "on", not just "in" the business). This means improving themselves, their staff and their processes internally.
We specialize in installing Management Systems that improve corporate, department and individual performance by using hundreds of proven best practices, embedded into these 6 Systems. Lots of psychology comes into play here as all growth is outside a person's individual comfort zone. After twelve years of driving change we have evolved a hybrid model that includes all three of these elements which is needed for success. These three methodologies are:
1. Training - Personal and group, both live and video to deliver information and interact too
2. Coaching - Hand holding individuals through the tough parts for them one-on-one
3. Consulting - To initially diagnose and design a custom program for the company that takes into account all factors like the individuals, industry and culture, as well as the strategic objectives and environment of the company
Without all three of these methods being used the chances of real, permanent change happening are slim to none. People will gradually gravitate back to “the old” way without leadership enforcing a disciplined framework and approach that is sustainable.
One very powerful way to drive change, probably the most bang for the buck you can get, is to implement a dashboard with the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the company as a whole and each department with more than about five people. This allows all managers more leverage by enabling “Management By Exception”. This process of design, and ongoing monthly cycle of discipline to report it, frames and defines success, creates transparency, creates very high levels of accountability as well as focus on the right things. A good dashboard is tied into the Strategic Plan and drives every manager while literally improving their abilities too. It is not just a tools for managing a department or company, but a tool for improving the managers who run them too.
Unfortunately most people think a dashboard is a bunch of graphs on a screen with real-time data on what is happening. This is the worst form and real-time data should not be used to steer a business. Strategic data should be. The best dashboard is actually a spreadsheet with nothing by numbers in monthly columns. The magic in what those numbers (KPIs) are measuring. Companies never get this right on their own without the outside help of a consultant because they are stuck in a mental model and habit of what matters. Most of the time when we do a corporate or department dashboard we find more than 50% of the key things are not being measured at all. In fact no one has any idea of what the value is of these key ratios, trends and productivity indicators. Companies have a handle on financials but rarely do they understand and measure well their productivity and quality. They usually measure activities but not the trends and results that should be tracked to indicate real progress.
A well designed Corporate Dashboard frames and defines success, creates transparency, creates very high levels of accountability and focus on the right things that are tied into the Strategic Plan. It improves every manager and their abilities too. See a list of the things accomplished here. This is not an expensive process and starts generating immediate ROI that lasts. It can be done over 2-4 weeks and have a huge impact on a company over time. We can train the team, coach them through the process and design everything (consult) for as little as $5,000. It may be the best money you ever spend and we guarantee our work.
Over 80% of people are resistant to change and a proven change methodology and framework is the best way to address this challenge. Few companies succeed alone without some outside, unbiased, expert help. One critical aspect is having a clear vision and framework of what the end result of change will look like. There are many proven best practices in management and culture, and amazingly most companies do not use these proven methods. No goal of vision can be vague like "more sales" or "better productivity". Any vision/objective must be specific so employees can understand, buy into and participate in the change and see how it maps into their job. That is just how the human mind and cultures work.
Bob Norton is Founder and Creator of AirTight Management and speaks and writes on best practices in leadership, management, performance improvement and Management Systems.