4 Principles of Change: What can go wrong and how to do it better!

March 18, 2020 by  

McKinsey has an influence model that speaks of four building blocks of change. This model says that if a change is to happen in an organization, it will be a combination of the leaders being role models, the people having a clear understanding of and alignment to the change, as well as the capabilities to act on it and the organization having the systems and processes to make this happen.

While these models vary in terms of specifics, the practitioners and experts agree on the following:
1. The need for effective communication to ensure a sense of urgency as well as the vision ahead.
2. The need for leaders to be more involved in change efforts and act as role models for the rest of the organization.
3. The need for systems/processes to ensure the change is transformed into a habit.

In my experience, there are four principles that require attention. If these are not managed correctly, they give rise to deeper issues that impede success in even the best-performing organizations:
1. Communication that becomes more of an advertising campaign with unidirectional messaging targeted to the “what” and “how” rather than the “why” behind the change. In addition, concerns and fears need to be addressed and compelling reasons why the change will be beneficial to everyone is another key to effective communication.
2. Leaders who are seen as “false sponsors” because their attention is divided and their interest waivers will prevent the change from happening as they need to model their commitment and demonstrate their belief in its necessity.
3. Progress that rarely is measured formally, and when it is, looks only at lagging indicators is not positive. Better to look at the forward movement and support that continuance with the appropriate support and timeline.
4. A continuous launch of change initiatives and priorities that weigh down the organization and make focus impossible will not move change forward. Change is becoming the new norm and everyone needs to get used to that even though it is not very comfortable for most people. Again, appropriate support, adequate time and great encouragement will greatly assist forward movement.

Below are ways to combat such situations and improve the odds of success.

Principle One: engaging communication

What usually happens: Communication becomes more of an advertising campaign with unidirectional messaging targeted to the “what” and “how” rather than the “why” behind the change
Why it happens: One-way communication means the recipients of the information are left alone to interpret it for themselves (so the same information can be seen in different ways by different people, depending on their previous experiences, current mindset, etc). Additionally, attention spans vary so greatly from person to person that a large percentage of the communication may be lost. Communication focuses solely on the “what is next” and the “what to do”, which means that recipients are not guided through the “why” of the change. Thus, a sense of urgency is not created, and people are less open to and motivated by the “what to do next.”

How to do it better: The way to ensure engagement and alignment is to work through an interactive communication tool. Participants can use discovery-based methodologies in a structured way to reach conclusions themselves as to why the change needs to happen, and what they need to do to make it happen. These tools have to be company appropriate and moment-specific and must be leader-led to ensure the right conversations are taking place. Such tools, like engage maps, are structured around the three themes of “Why the change”, “What is the new framework/model and what does it mean for us”, and “How will we get from where we are to the new desired state.”

Principle Two: true leadership

What usually happens: Leaders who are seen as “false sponsors” because their attention is divided and their interest waivers.
Why it happens: In many changes and transformations, leaders focus on “business as usual” and delegate the change process to departments like HR or IT, or to external consultants. This produces a disconnect. In addition, leaders are often not aligned with the changes themselves and, therefore, when their teams face issues or questions, their responses and actions are contradictory to the change.
How to do it better: It is key that leaders be seen as role models. In order to do that, they must be the first ones to align with the change and, therefore, be the first ones trained on tools such as engage maps. They also need to take ownership of the change and demonstrate that to their people.

Principle Three: the need for measurement and monitoring

What usually happens: Progress that rarely is measured formally, and when it is, looks only at lagging indicators
Why it happens: Many transformation and change efforts focus on the very end indicators such as the percentage of new digital clients in the bank, which become lagging indicators which are only measured after it happens. Sometimes these types of measurements make it difficult to show the impact of the transformation process and how it is progressing.
How to do it better: It is important to be able to track both result-oriented indicators as well as activity indicators, as they can reveal a leading effect. These leading indicators can also identify the barriers to transformation and give us “heat maps” as to where the positive action is happening and what else we might need to do to keep moving forward.

Principle Four: the essence of focus

What usually happens: A continuous launch of change initiatives and priorities that weigh down the organization and make focus impossible.
Why it happens: Change fatigue is a common issue in organizations: “This year’s change initiative is…..tends to be a joke for employees. The complexity of the tools and models of an organization can make it difficult for employees to know what is expected of them.
How to do it better: Limit transformational actions to the ones that are crucial and require the employees’ full attention. Link these actions to the rest of the changes in the organization, such as compensation system changes, reporting shifts, and organizational moves.

It is worth investing the time and resources in a change management people process that looks at these four principles and implements ways to ensure the right impact. As an old African proverb states, “Tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”

4 Keys to Attract Millennials to your Workplace

March 4, 2020 by  

In 2016, millennials (a generation usually defined by those born between 1981 and 1996) became the largest generation in the workforce.
In the years to come, the members of this generation will be the ones to eventually assume the managerial reins of companies the world over.
To ensure the security of your company’s future in light of the retiring Baby Boomer generation, it is essential to court millennial job seekers.
But what exactly attracts millennials to a job? What are millennials seeking in their ideal position?

Here are some issues they are seeking:
1. Flexible Workstyles
It can be argued that millennials care more about work-life balance than a desirable salary. With the lightning-fast advancement of technology in recent years, and the ability for distributed teams to communicate via multiple channels such as Slack, Google Hangouts, Zoom, and more, the traditional 9-5 workday doesn’t always resonate with the millennial job seeker.
Millennials are willing and ready to deliver results, but they don’t want to do so at the cost of their mental health as this is an important priority to them, especially considering depression is on the rise among millennials. It is no wonder that this generation gravitates to workplaces that honour healthy work-life balances.
How to introduce flexible workstyles in your office: remote work options such as telecommuting from a home office or elsewhere is becoming increasingly popular these days. As long as your millennial employees are getting their work done, there’s no reason to force them into a 9-5 mould. If full telecommuting isn’t possible, consider offering the option for 1-3 days out of the week to be worked at home, or introduce half days where an employee comes in for a few hours and then continues their work at home.

2. Opportunities for Growth
Millennials care about growth. Work for the sake of work, especially tedious grunt work that doesn’t seem to have any underlying value, is the quickest way to repel millennial talent away from your office.
Millennials need to be mentally stimulated, challenged, and engaged in the workplace. They want to feel as if they are evolving and getting somewhere, instead of remaining stagnant in a routine. They seek opportunities to learn new skills so that they do not get bored and disengage.
Therefore, professional development opportunities are key to attracting quality millennial talent. Millennials need to be challenged and nurtured, and by showing you are investing in their talents and growth, you are allowing some of the best and most growth-driven millennials know that you aren’t just looking for a warm body to fill a role, rather you are looking for someone to grow WITH the company.
Consider mentorship programs between senior management and millennials who are interested in growing within the company ranks. Offer training programs, continuing education opportunities, and admission to industry-specific conferences where your employees can network, learn, and gain new skills. Growth-oriented millennials thrive on opportunities to learn, and the more opportunities you give them, the more likely you will retain them long-term.

3. Competitive Salaries and Benefits
Many millennials grew up watching their parents struggle financially despite putting in decades of hard work. With crippling student loan debts and soaring expenses burdening them, millennials aren’t interested in giving up a lifetime of work before they start to see the financial payoff. They want competitive salaries and benefits right off the bat.
Some of the most significant trends for millennial employees, or simply younger employees in general, want a higher salary and better benefits immediately. Now, this isn’t always the case, but there seems to be less of an acceptance of the apprenticeship phase now than there used to be.
Low-ball offers aren’t going to attract millennial workers. But it is not just because the bills at home need to be paid. Millennials see salaries as the means by which they can live a more fulfilling life. Put another way, it is not so much the money, but the experiences that the money can reward them with.
Which is why impressive benefits are also a magnet when it comes to attracting millennial job seekers. These benefits ideally should be ones that add to the millennial’s work-life balance or career advancement. Consider creative perks such as a monthly allowance for a gym or yoga studio membership, internet and/or phone bill subsidies, continuing education subsidies, additional annual leave, free meals, and regular team-building activities and functions, just to name a few.

4. A Sense of Purpose
Two things are generally understood about millennials: they value experiences over possessions, and they want to feel passion for the work that they do. That second truth can be summed up that millennials care more about purpose than money. If a position doesn’t fulfil them and make them feel as if they are doing significant, meaningful work, they either will pass on it altogether, or they won’t stay very long in the position if they do accept it. This may be one of the reasons there seems to be such high turnover with this generation of workers.
Having a Purpose is essential for any employee, but that is especially the case for millennials. This generation in particular, more than any other, craves making a positive impact in the world.
Ensuring that your workplace has a meaningful vision that is the driving force for all you do is absolutely essential if you wish to attract millennials to your workforce. Be clear on how your company plays a role in creating positive change in the world. Help your millennial employees make the connection between the work they do and the difference it makes in the lives of others. If they feel that their role contributes to a bigger picture that is tied to something meaningful and impactful, they will find the work rewarding and stay for the long-term.

Is the future of your company secure? Millennials already make up the largest generation in the workforce. It won’t be long before this is true in every workforce globally. With Baby Boomers retiring, the sustainability of your company depends on attracting and retaining the next generation and using the strategies above, you will make your workplace more attractive to the millennial job seeker.