By Mike Kinney, Vice President of SalesIn Part 2 of Asure Software’s Vice President of AsureSpace Sales, Mike Kinney’s look at change management, he delves into the three most common mistakes in executing successful change. We have received some great responses to part 1 of “The Whole Point of “Change Management” is to Change Right?- The What, Why, and How of Change Management & Desired State”, so thank you for your feed back, and  if you haven’t checked out part 1 yet I encourage you to do so, here.Read More About Mike

Part 2: The Three Common Mistakes In Executing Successful Change

“Changes” to behavior at any level within an organization (individual, team or organization) requires intent.  In order to ensure a successful initiative and capture 100% of the intent of the “change,” it is critical to create strategic alignment around the initiative.  Strategic alignment and cascading communication establishes a system to overcome the three most common mistakes in Change Management:

  1. Lack of executive sponsorship
  2. Middle-management project management skills
  3. Front-line employee communication

Executive Sponsorship & Change Management

Executive Sponsorship is a biggie.  Executive sponsorship does not mean that a high level decision-maker approved the project.  Executive sponsorship means that there is a senior leader committed to the “change” initiative and plays an active role throughout the implementation process.The Executive Sponsor has very specific duties starting with creating the vision for the team, setting clear objectives, and holding the team accountable to measurable results.  Another key role the Executive Sponsor plays is that of The Project Advocate, as well as, communicating up and down the organization and making sure the project maintains the momentum it started with.  This individual needs to have the influence to acquire resources and participation across multiple departments or divisions.One other very important thought on executive sponsorship; a successful change strategy also identifies an Executive Sponsor from the vendor of the technology being implemented.  This is critical for the same reasons an internal Executive Sponsor is for the project team.  Make sure during an evaluation process, your team chooses a vendor that has a strong philosophy and commitment to Change Management.  Not only does this alignment increase the success of the project, it also is the single biggest strategy to protect your monetary investment.

Middle Management & Successful Change

Skilled Project Management Talent at the Middle-Management Level in most organizations simply does not exist.  This is a challenge because this is the group carrying out the vision and holding the project team accountable to deadlines and the success criteria for the project.Having a knowledgeable Executive Sponsor attached to each technology projects helps to fill this gap, but the most impactful strategy to overcome this talent gap is to align your company with the right vendor.  Aligning your organization with a vendor that has the right technology and approach to implementation is a game changer.  Your internal project leads can piggy back off of the skills, competencies, and strong project management skills the vendor brings to the initiative, thus, transferring their project management talent to your internal organization.

Employee Communication & Change Management

Finally and arguably the most important is the Communication and Training Strategy with Front-line Employees.  This is where true behavior changes have to be made to achieve any new performance goal.  Communication needs to happen early and often and place the employee value message at the center of the communication; meaning the employees must know, “what’s in it for me?”The fact is technology and automation initiatives create emotional responses that can only be overcome with a strong communication and training strategy.  An individual’s (Human nature) initial resistance to change (which can be counted on like the sun rising in the morning) is due to a survival instinct gene programmed in our DNA.  Whenever there is change, this gene invokes our internal survival defense mechanism; fear.When change in the workplace is introduced, the fear factor in employees rises; fear of losing their job to automation or a new process, and/or the fear of understanding and knowing how to use the new technology (nobody wants to look stupid).  We humans like status quo, even if our status quo is unproductive, because we know that we can survive in our current status quo (at least that is what we tell ourselves whether it’s true or not).Training is the key ingredient to reducing fear, creating a ground swell of engagement, and ultimately achieving a high-level of user adoption.  A solid overall communication and training strategy offers several mediums of training for the front-line employee’s to tap into, for example; classroom, mentor/shadowing, online, or video library.  If you really want to increase user adoption and increase the success rate of a technology initiative, make sure your overall communication strategy includes a continuous Targeted Communication Process.Remember the “Accept” phase of the (PDA) Change Management Model?  This is when you test for the individual, team, or company’s acceptance of the desired behavior changes.  Then, identify and isolate the levels of acceptance and re-train and test the different groups according to their adoption levels. This is targeted communication at its best and it is very effective in changing behavior.The whole point of “Change Management” is to change right? To be more specific, change the individual, team, or organization’s behavior.  What it really comes down to is, “things or outcomes don’t change if people don’t change.”

About Mike Kinney

Mike Kinney joined Asure Software in May 2011 as Vice President of Sales. He provides Asure with more than 16 years of sales and marketing experience in the human capital management business services industry. Mike also offers expertise in Software as a Service (SaaS) and hardware solutions to existing and potential Asure clients. Before joining Asure Software, he served Ceridian Corporation as Regional Vice President, HR Payroll Division and held leadership roles at KForce and CFS. Mike earned his BA in Political Science with a concentration in Economics from the University of Texas, Austin.

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