Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Is it Change Management or Strategy Implementation?

So many times we are asked to address a change issue with a client. Every time when we as consultants do our homework we find that yes a change is occurring but a program is not the answer. As an HR professional now for more years that I would like to admit, I have had a fundamental issue with change management. It’s not an event that we can express on a coffee mug or a t-shirt, it is about a new desired business result. Either we are looking to increase revenue, increase profit, or to be more efficient. To be able to SUSTAIN any of these results, doesn’t change have to be continuous? And really, couldn’t we just substitute the words STRATEGY IMPLEMENTATION instead of CHANGE MANAGEMENT?

In my experience change management initiatives were almost always the result of a shift in strategy. In typical organizations the leadership communicates the new strategy, sets goals, and monitors results. At the same time HR conducts change management workshops that teach employees how to prepare and accept change. I think those events should be combined.

Why do most programs fail including change management? We fail to execute. So what we need to do is assist leaders with execution.

Before all the OD consultants out there fire off responses to me, I do feel that the principles of change like buy in, resistance, communication of desired and current state, and all of those are critically important when woven into the bigger conversation of the NEW BUSINESS RESULT.

In these times of HR really having to prove their existence, should we be talking about change management initiatives or is strategy implementation/execution the right conversation? This question came to me after having a very good conversation with a client last week regarding a very large shift in strategy at their organization.
Sometimes, organizations just get stuck, so a discussion needs to take place about what is desired in the 5 key areas of the organization and what the current state is in the following areas:
1) Strategy
2) Leadership
3) Culture
4) Employees
5) Customer

Next, a discussion of the gaps need to take place and how we plan to CHANGE in the context of strategy.

Or, you could just order some t-shirts…

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What Are You Doing to Engage Your Employees, Today?

We had the pleasure of attending the SHRM-Atlanta Fall Conference this week. At the conference, we had the opportunity to ask HR practitioners what they were doing inside their companies to engage their employees. Check out the YouTube videos below:

The HR professionals we interviewed discussed a common theme of "making connections" regarding employee engagement. The examples are summarized below:

1) Make sure employees know they are valued. (Connect with employees on an emotional level)
2) Take care of your employees, so they take care of your customers. (Happy employee-happy customer connection)
3) Engaged employees are in the right job, they love their work! (Teela at Talent Connections loves making connections)
4) During tough times, make connections with employees on a social level. (gets people connected and out of the day to day grind)

I heard an interesting statistic at the conference. 50% of your employees would consider leaving, if jobs were available. That is astounding to me. I can understand it, as we are stressed, stretched and scared! Those are the reasons why you need to be focused on engagement as a company today. Engagement is not a program or a policy. Engagement is about leadership. Do your leaders, lead an engaged company?

Let us know what your company is doing TODAY about engagement!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Employee Engagement in One Minute

Sometimes, simpler is just better. I am a management consultant and I find myself making easy things more complex from time to time. I guess we feel the more complex something is, the more we know about a subject.

My business partner ran across this YouTube Video on engagement. It is the best one I have seen. Simple, yet so true!

According to Drewberry LTD, the 3 tiers of employee engagement are:
1) to understand
2) to reward
3) to communicate

All very easy, yet we as managers and business owners can't get this right. We are terrible at asking our employees what they think, or how they would solve an issue. When it comes to rewards we often use a "one size fits all" approach. That doesn't work in blue jeans, nor does it work to motivate ALL employees.

Communication is the real tough one. Our company has been conducting employee surveys for almost 13 years. On each survey we have analyzed we always see/hear the same thing; "They don't communicate to us." "They" meaning managers and supervisors.

Do I think that these are the only 3 things we need to focus on....no. But, the 3 tiers are the basics and if we could get those right, we would have more engaged employees. I do believe what drives engagement differs from one company to the next depending on leadership, culture, and the employees. By examining drivers of engagement through well thought out surveys and making sure the basics are right, you can really focus on what makes your employees more productive in turn making your customers happier, which ultimately makes your checkbook bigger!

Tell me what has worked for you in your company regarding the basics. How do you communicate effectively? How do you understand employees? How do you design reward systems that really motivate? I would love to hear from you!

Monday, October 5, 2009


I have been giving a lot of thought recently to the topic of change. It seems that most of our clients are currently going through some kind of change, like:

1) I want to take our business to the next level in terms of revenue/growth
2) I want my company to be performance driven where decisions are more data driven
3) I need to change our company's culture from _______ culture to NEW culture

As a management consultant this is fun and exciting work. But inevitably, we get to a certain point in the project and leaders/stakeholders begin asking questions such as:

1) Do we really want to do this?
2) What if our employees don't want to change?
3) What if this doesn't work?

So I then start thinking, what if you don't change what happens to your company? We often get answers like, "our competition will beat us," "we will lose market share," or "we may go out of business." So really what we need to be discussing is not how we change, because 9 times out of 10, it is vitally necessary that the change happens. We really need to have conversation on how to sustain the change.

After all the hoopla is over, the mugs have been passed out with our new mission and vision on them (little sarcasm here), how do we keep the "New Change" going?

Of course, I have a bias and feel that change is very dependent on employees carrying out that change and that HR programs and infrastructure can impact employee behavior. So, what can HR do to SUSTAIN the CHANGE?

1) Make sure you are a part of the change from day one
2) Align reward systems that incent new desired behaviors
3) Communicate what change means down to the individual level
4) Track progress over time setting clear milestones COMMUNICATE PROGRESS
5) Align performance goals to organizational goals
6) Pay for performance and mean it
7) Make sure the right people are performing the right jobs
8) Create clear career paths so individuals see where they fit today and in the future
9) Serve as a coach to leadership when they get stuck in the change effort, keep the momentum going

I know many of my readers have gone through change or are going through change right now. What else can HR do to SUSTAIN the CHANGE? (I think I need to make some T-shirts!)