Building Your In-House Change Resources to Maximize Your ROI from Change*
By Linda Ackerman Anderson and Dean Anderson
In nine out of ten organizations, internal change resources are either under-trained, under-supported, or under-utilized. In many cases, this costs their organizations millions of dollars, and makes these companies over-reliant on external consultants. Worse yet, it creates future hardships with their change initiatives in a business climate where the ability to change quickly is paramount. In this article, we will outline how to build your critical internal change resources and dramatically increase your organization's change capability and ROI from change.
Do You Really Want to Give the Leadership of Your Change Initiatives to Outsiders?
The pressure to change quickly often causes many executives to over-use external consultants, even when internal resources are available. This occurs because executives often look to external firms for expert advice on what to change, but then end up also relying on them to figure out how to change (the process) and how to handle the human and cultural issues associated with the change (the people factor). When you have people and process experts inside your organization and do not put them to use on your important change initiatives, they often become disenchanted if not down right angry at being overlooked and under-utilized-the opposite effect that you want in this change-crazy business environment!
Most organizations have a range of in-house staffs that are prime resources to be developed to add value on change projects. Most external consulting firms have no incentive to do this development when you hire them to design or implement your major changes. Why? Because doing so takes work away from them! In this day of expense reduction, it is a wise investment to build your in-house capability to succeed at change in ways that fit your culture, your workforce, and your environment.
Remember the old Chinese saying: "You can feed a man a fish and feed him for a day. You can teach a man to fish, and feed him for a lifetime!" Since your organization is going to continue to change in the years to come, the smartest investment you can make now is to build your expectation, readiness, and ability to succeed at these inevitable changes! Use external experts where needed to advise on what to change, but develop your internal resources to support the people and process aspects of your success. Your internals know your organization better than anyone, and will always be closer to the real issues that need attention. Investing in these people's ability to make your changes succeed is one of the best ways to increase your ROI from change.
2. Who Are Your In-House Change Resources?
There are two types of change resources to consider-staff and line. On the staff side, your organization may have organization development (OD) consultants, change management specialists, management development trainers, six sigma experts, project management staff, quality or learning specialists, or HR generalists.
On the line side, all managers involved in determining, designing, planning or implementing change are candidates for increased change skill, readiness, and knowledge. These leaders work on real projects in real time, and can benefit most directly from greater change expertise.
Your staff groups will generally need a broader and deeper understanding and skills to address change effectively. Your line groups will need more pragmatic application tools. As you build your staff resources, they can become a pool of service providers (internal consultants) to support your line leaders in charge of the actual change initiatives. Strengthening the partnership between your internal line and staff change agents on real time changes will dramatically increase your change results.
3. Components of Your Strategy to Build In-House Resources
A. Your Preferred Approach to Change: Your Change Methodology
Organizations that have not consciously decided to lead their multitude of change efforts in a unified and purposeful way can have dozens of different approaches to managing change. This situation often leads to redundant effort, poor quality, confusion, misalignment of projects, and even senseless competition between change leaders using different methodologies.
We recommend that you and your leaders choose a preferred change methodology that you can tailor to fit your needs and culture. Having one approach to change that includes a change process roadmap and application tools makes building your in-house change capability exponentially easier! Your change methodology should be the focal point of all of your change education and coaching on your live projects.
B. Change Education
Create change trainings to introduce and build skill in your preferred change methodology. These trainings must be tailored to the various audiences that need to know about your organization's common approach to change.
Executives will need a different type of briefing about the approach than will line leaders in charge of specific change projects. Consider a training for each of your required audiences: executives, upper level line leaders and project managers, mid managers helping their people to accept and succeed in actual changes, the employee population in general, and your various staff groups who will be your in-house experts (consultants) in the methodology. Clearly, when you are building change capacity, you will want to ensure a greater mastery of your change methodology in your OD, change management, project management, six sigma, quality and learning specialists.
4. Breakthrough Training on Mindset, Style and Behaviors of Change Leaders
We consistently find, even in organizations that have a sound change framework, that change efforts fail for two primary reasons: First is the incongruence between what the change requires of the organization and the mindset and behavior of the leaders. Your leaders must model what they are asking of your organization. For example, remember the days of implementing empowerment through executive mandate? Executives were anything but empowering in imposing it on the organization. Don't make that mistake with your changes!
Second is that the leaders' mindset does not allow them to actually recognize what is required to succeed in their change. Their worldview causes them to miss key people and cultural issues and drives them to lead change in far too controlling a manner, making things worse. This must be addressed!
Your organization's ability to build internal change capability will in large part be determined by the growth and development of your (change) leaders, which will likely require some mindset, behavior and style shifting on their part. For this reason, we make a strong recommendation that you provide personal development training for your leaders, especially, your key change leaders-the people who must model the change, advocate for your best change practices, and have the mindset to deal with the human and process complexities of transformation.
Such breakthrough training is different than the change education component above. It focuses on the mindset, style, and behavior needed to produce your results from change, rather than on the methodology to use.
This type of training is of particular importance in transformational change efforts, and is as essential for the top leaders in your organization as it is for your in-house change resources. For one client, we cascaded our Breakthrough to Change Leadership program from the CEO to the top 1500 leaders. The impact, if you do this properly, can be profound. To explore more fully, see: Why Leading Transformation Successfully Requires a Shift of Leadership Mindset.
5. Project Application
There is no better platform for learning about leading change than live projects. For this reason, be sure that you design your change methodology to support your real change efforts. Develop your trainings around actual change initiatives. Coach your change leaders on their real work. And focus your follow-up learning clinics on how to improve their actual change results.
Making your change projects the seedbed for building competent change leadership will both deliver sound change leadership development as well as increase your ROI from change. Again, the most successful way to do this is to build a sound partnership between your in-house resources and your line leaders in support of real change results.
6. Change Coaching
Once you have introduced your change methodology and begun to apply it on real projects, you will need skilled coaching to ensure sound judgment on the part of your in-house consultants, sponsors, and change process leaders. Be prepared to offer coaching to the key people in position to influence how your change efforts are being designed and implemented.
As in your training plan, change coaching should focus on both change strategy and on the personal style and thinking of the change leaders. Coaching can accelerate the learning of your change methodology as well as ensure quality results from your live efforts.
Note that coaching is not change consulting; your in-house resources should be providing ongoing consulting. Their coaches, who may be internal or external, are used periodically to maximize their on-the-job skills and results. External coaches, in this case, are retained to specifically increase your in-house capability. In other words, they coach your consultants rather than do all the consulting themselves!
7. Learning Clinics to Share and Build Best Change Practices
To support your change resources to master their leadership of change, form them into an active network to meet or communicate regularly about what they are trying and learning. Periodic learning clinics can be organized to discuss actual projects and determine what is working and what your best change practices are or should be. These practices can then be communicated and reinforced among everyone leading change. You can also use your best practices as standards of excellence and tie performance goals, measurements, and rewards to their use.
If you are using a multiple project integration strategy, consider attaching a learning clinic as a follow up to key meetings. The line project leaders can participate in the integration meeting, and then their internal change support staff can continue on and discuss how the various efforts can be strengthened and accelerated.
8. Mechanisms to Share Information and Stay Connected
Because of the challenges of being widely dispersed across geographic regions, many large or global organizations create cost effective ways for people to share or access information about change leadership. The most popular and useful mechanism for this is an intranet site that features change tools, best practices, articles, and resources about change leadership. As an example, many companies have placed links to our free change tools and articles on their websites, have linked their sites directly to our free Change Resources website, or provided subscribe boxes to our e-newsletter. These and other convenient and cost-effective options can add tremendously to building common change knowledge and capability in your organization.
9. Global Outreach
Global organizations need to look at how to tailor and serve the different cultures that their change methodology must support. Cultural differences are critical forces in the success of change. Some organizations have hosted global design meetings when shaping their preferred approach to change, as well as global input sessions when developing trainings, communications, and learning clinics. It is more important for your change methodology to work well in the various cultures that your organization depends on than to try to force fit a one-size-fits-all approach.
10. Integration with Other Development Efforts
Lastly, when you have designed your change methodology and internal resource development strategy, consider how to integrate them with the other related efforts happening in your organization. These may include other executive development or management development programs, coaching efforts, your employee orientation process, performance management system, rewards and incentives, project management standards, business planning processes, leadership conferences, and so on.
These are ready-made vehicles to disseminate your change methodology and change leadership expectations, so take full advantage of them now and for at least the first two years. Above all, make sure that what these efforts are espousing or requiring is in alignment with what is needed for your change leadership strategy to be successful.
Change is not going away. And failing at it is not an option. Paying external consultants enormous sums of money to design and lead your changes for you, over and over again, year after year, is shortsighted and costly in terms of both money and morale. If your organization does not have talented in-house resources and you face years of major change, consider hiring them and developing them to learn, lead and support your line leaders to succeed at these changes. If you already have these resources, USE THEM! If you want to make sure they know what they are doing and have the tools needed, then hire external change experts to help them create a change leadership development strategy based on the components articulated in this article. Just be sure that your external experts will develop your internal resources and will leave their change methodology and know-how behind.
*Reprinted with permission from Linkage Inc. who can be contacted at www.linkage.com; originally published in Being First, Inc., publishers of the free e-newsletter, Results from Change.