When change managers blend change management seamlessly into the fabric of key projects, our contributions can be so good they go unnoticed. People willingly adopt important changes, projects achieve intended outcomes, and leaders applaud a well-deployed initiative and its ROI. Change management, while critical, rarely shares the spotlight. Although we strive for such happy outcomes, we can not be passive about our key contributions to these successes. Silence leads to complacency, which undermines support and resources for future efforts. As change practitioners, we must capture and show senior leaders and project teams the value we bring.
Recently I asked change practitioners to share their thoughts about this on social media and received a flurry of responses from all over the world. Read on for the question and some very insightful approaches.
“When we do a horrible job managing the people side of change, we usually hear about it loud and clear (yelling, screaming, crying, complaining, cursing, doors slamming, etc.). When we do a great job of preparing, equipping and supporting our people through their own personal transitions (i.e., good change management), we often hear crickets. Silence is harder to hear than the cacophony. How do you make sure to capture and share the impact of your change management work, since you'll rarely ‘hear’ about it directly?”
“The holder of a PAT is never recognized unless he misses the snap. The same is true for change managers. We can change that with stats. When change is successful (we've done our job) then user readiness will be high, the adoption curve should be a hockey stick, and the project team and customer CSAT score should be over 4.0/5.0. These scores (good and bad) are shared with our senior execs. That's how we show our value.”
“Introverts like to think about their feedback and provide it in written form. Extroverts like to share their feedback in a group. So, when I facilitate feedback sessions, I allow for both with discussions and feedback cards. And I offer cards in green, yellow and red colors. Works great every time.”
“After the deployment of a large and complex IT replacement project at our company, we created a Change Management User Feedback Survey. It was a quick 5 questions with the opportunity to make further comment at the end. Each question has a sliding scale 0-5 (5 being highest), and those who were impacted by the change were are able to rate how they felt this project was managed from a change perspective. This gave us great insight into what went well and where the pain points were.
We sent out 242 surveys and 86 people responded, so that is around 35%. It was a little low, but this occurred only 3-4 weeks post deployment. I guess people were still getting used to the new system before they could comment. Anyway, it still gave us an initial insight into how the change was being received by the business.
Q1. How would you rate your experience in terms of how this change was managed? (1-5)
Q2. What was your reason for giving this rating?
Q3. Following the deployment of this solution, have you found yourself to be (compared to the legacy system) a) better off, b) worse off or c) no difference?
Q4. What was your reason for giving this rating?
Q5. Please list any functionality that should be included in future enhancements of this solution.
Q6. Please provide any additional comments as required.”
“Tim, when I was a change management upstart back in the early 90s, we went through an exercise in an attempt to quantify the value of change management. The best we could come up with at the time was a slogan that essentially answered a question with a question. "What is the value of change management? What is the value without change management?" I still have a t-shirt with that slogan! Over the years I've seen successful and disastrous projects and have used some of the metrics from those to quantify change management's value proposition. Because successes and failures are trailing indicators, there is sometimes a challenge in projecting them forward to current projects and clients. However, it's always more cost effective to learn lessons from others' mistakes. To your point, maybe the value proposition is ‘no noise.'"
This is a constant challenge, as most folks don’t talk or even remember the positives when something works out to expectation, because it was an expected goal. The key here is to monitor the delivery process and the engagement process as separate events, and to focus on service throughout the entire course by engaging test teams and building coalitions.
1) Focus on milestones and reward individual achievement.
2) Ask questions throughout the product development and product implementation cycles.
3) Keep statistics on productivity pre- and post-deployment.
4) Keep these efforts ongoing for two years after delivery by building a service contract into delivery.
5) Review the service contract regularly with insights gained from user data and feedback sessions from coalition members. Update the contract and continue delivery.
6) The project is never done. It's only waiting for its next phase.”
“Great question, Tim! I ask. At the end of an implementation or training and development, I run satisfaction surveys with stakeholders. Anonymous and online (for staff) with options for narrative responses is always helpful, though some customer (for us patient) scenarios have better responses with paper surveys. Also, in the end, I meet in person with stakeholders in a focus group type of setting and explain that their feedback will assist us in our future improvement work. I also find that people do give feedback when happy even if more subtle. And that can be one-to-one with a leader, in a staff meeting, or in the break room. Frequently staff dissatisfaction drives our improvement work, so listening and seeking feedback is a big part of the process.”
“Tim, great question! We (our profession) must come up with secret sauce to finding the numbers for Adoption. I use the Prosci ADKAR Dashboard as a useful tool for measuring improvements. But we still as a profession cannot say with any granularity what we did to make Adoption and Engagement better. I keep trying, though. I have been consulting in Change Management for 19 years. The only thing we can do is show where we prevented a major catastrophe!”
"Aligning with the strategy and program outcomes, building a feedback loop, and getting that feedback in a timely manner, capturing the stories as lessons learned and sharing―rinse and repeat.”
“As you know, changing the way people think act and feel―probably in that order―is more challenging than flipping switches and watching the blinking lights of software or technology. I believe that Individuals don’t really change, but modify behavior based on the results that they seek, driven by their personal set of motivators.”
“When asked by these change managers what I did, the answer was pretty simple... I said I was nice, said please and thank you, asked people what they needed, listened and always had mini sausage rolls on implementation day. :-) I believe that it really is the simple, human focused things that can help us all be the most successful, and the best way to capture these (once the formal PIR is completed) is checking with people directly post implementation. Engage them in conversation and ask them the question ‘how is it going?’ Not just in week one or week two but over the coming weeks and months, if you are able to, listen to their feedback and act on it accordingly. If you have moved on to another project, coach the on-site managers to keep asking these questions and watch for signs. Checking in regularly at team meetings all huddles and ensure these people have the appropriate skills or contacts.”
Project managers and senior leaders who prefer to see “success in the silence” usually don’t see success at all. As a result, they undervalue the contribution and may neglect tending to people on the next project. This makes it critical for change managers to demonstrate success. To do that, look to the individual employees who must do their jobs differently. As change managers, we know we’re successful when they have adopted the changes we asked them to make. The payout and the impact to share with others is in the business results.
Looking for a way to measure your project successes? The Prosci Best Practices Audit can help.
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.
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