Effective change management always includes reinforcement, but projects often overlook this step, even though it is critical to the long-term success of a change. In reality, your entire change management plan should include reinforcing efforts from the very beginning.
In the Prosci Methodology, the Communication Plan, Sponsor Plan, and People Manager Plan all directly influence reinforcement at the individual level. The daily work you do with sponsors and people managers reinforces messages about why the change is happening, how it impacts employees, and why the change is important. And integration with your project team—to understand where the project is, what milestones are coming, and how the project is evolving--provides you with opportunities to continually reinforce the value of change management and focus on how projects impact your people.
Feedback and the Prosci 3-Phase Process
As you work through the Prosci 3-Phase Process, reinforcement takes place across Phase 2 – Manage Change and Phase 3 – Sustain Outcomes. First, let's look at Phase 2 – Manage Change. Depending on your unique change, collecting and analyzing employee feedback could be helpful during the Track Performance and Adapt Actions stages.
During the Track Performance stage, we ask "How are we doing?" To answer this question, you could track individual progress and ADKAR barrier points using employee feedback.
In the third stage of Phase 2 – Manage Change, we Adapt Actions, which involves looking at data from the Track Performance stage to inform activities and tactics for maintaining strengths, addressing opportunities, and closing performance gaps.
During Phase 3 – Sustain Outcomes, employee feedback might be helpful during the Review Performance stage, where we ask, "Now, where are we?" and "Are we done yet?" To answer these questions, you could use employee feedback to review ADKAR outcomes, identify and address any remaining performance gaps, and identify lessons learned.
3 Ways to Use Feedback to Reinforce Change
To gauge progress when executing your plan, you can:
Listen to employees and gather their feedback
Audit employee compliance with new processes, systems and job roles
Analyze the effectiveness of your change management activities
1. Listening to employees
To reinforce change effectively, it's important to follow up with employees to understand how the change is working. Many teams fall into the trap of completing their change management checklist without listening to what employees have to say. The feedback you gather will be helpful in developing corrective actions and post-implementation change management activities.
You can gather feedback in many ways. Prosci's Employee Feedback Template is based on the ADKAR Model, and includes targeted questions that reveal key insights about how employees view change.
2. Auditing employee compliance
Changes are successful when they are fully implemented and the organization embraces them. As a reinforcement activity, auditing compliance ensures that the change is indeed taking place and the organization is realizing full benefits from it.
The way you audit compliance is specific to the change you introduce. The project team can define what these new processes, systems and roles look like and specify the key metrics to measure after implementation. Methods for measuring compliance include:
How often employees still use "the old way of doing things"
3. Analyzing effectiveness
Simply conducting change management activities is not enough. To reinforce a change, we must understand how effective we have been by reviewing activities, progress, outcomes and lessons learned. When asked what criteria they use to measure change management effectiveness on projects, participants in Prosci's research say they consider:
Qualitative or feedback metrics
Overall project performance
Reinforce Change with Employee Feedback
Remember, it's important to track metrics before project launch, at key milestones throughout the project, and at the end of its lifecycle. For additional information about how to reinforce change and measure your change management efforts, explore the latest edition of Prosci's Best Practices in Change Management research report. The research includes the latest methods, data sources and timing for measuring results and reinforcing change.
Tim Creasey is Prosci’s Chief Innovation Officer and a globally recognized leader in change management. His work forms the foundation of the largest body of knowledge in the world on managing the people side of change to deliver organizational results.