Five things to keep in mind when developing your change strategy (HINT: it’s all about people)

May 31, 2019
  • people
  • operations
  • automotive
  • SAP

Located within the Bristol Temple Quarter, delaware launched its first UK Client Delivery Hub in October 2018.

Our Delivery Hub now employs over 35 analysts who, in addition to providing dedicated project/client resource, are a central component in the delaware strategy to offer a seamless approach to delivery of value-centric and sustainable business outcomes.

One of the key advantages of this programme, in addition to providing exciting opportunities for our people, is that we constantly have access to fresh and innovative perspective of our customers’ needs.

One of our analysts, Julia Vermont, joined our UK business in January 2019 and has been working within delaware’s People & Organisation team on a large-scale SAP SuccessFactors implementation.

In this blog, Julia offers some valuable insight into some of the key change practices required to ensure IT success.

If you don’t have the support of senior leadership, it won’t work.

Although it is a fairly obvious point, it is one that can get forgotten along the way. Having a senior leadership team that are super engaged and enthusiastic at the start of a project is the easy part (although it may not seem it). It’s when the implementation plan slips behind schedule, or user adoption reports at go-live indicate low usage or, as is common,  there has been some resistance from employees, that you need to ensure that the senior leadership team is still engaged and championing the project. Enthusiasm for the project will not resonate throughout your company if there is not a consistent driving force from the top.

If you don’t have the support of your X thousand employees who will be using the new system, it also won’t work.

As much as it is vital to engage the senior leadership team and establish clear sponsors for the project, it is important to draw on the concept of shared leadership and understand how other people in your organisation can contribute. If you don’t spend time working out the best ways to engage your employees at all levels, they will be far less willing to adapt and learn how to use the new technology. The reality is: if they don’t use the new system, then you have just spent a considerable investment only for your  people to continue spending X hours each week collating reports, or needless effort getting physical signatures on each performance review. You’ll then have the CEO breathing down your neck asking you to explain why you have invested in this new technology if no one is using it.

Create support through co-ideation.

Once you have established a focus on engaging your employees, the most effective way to capture their imagination is to ask for their opinion. Ask them what they want and why they want it. Supervisors and managers should invest time in face-to face sessions with their teams to bring to life the messages they have received from the global communications team, but also to understand their point of view and to ensure that they are being listened to. Once this information is fed back to the project team, you can use it to inform your strategy: recognise the contribution from your employees and they will become change champions themselves. 

Understand how ‘offstage’ behaviour will impact your change campaign.

In Thijs Homan’s TEDx AmsterdamED talk about organisational change1, he explains his concepts of ‘onstage’ and ‘offstage’ behaviour. ‘Onstage’ behaviour is the behaviour an employee demonstrates when they receive a presentation from their manager about a change project, and they nod their head,clap, and say it’s a great idea. ‘Offstage’ behaviour is when they subsequently walk to the kitchen and tell Susan what they really think. Employees are constantly talking about things: in Thijs’ words, “there is a continuous process of sense-making going on in informal conversations where people make sense of what has happened in the formal side of the organisation.” This process creates ‘clouds of meaning’ – the orders which emerge spontaneously in an organisation in which individuals come together to perform local social sense-making. Thijs suggests that these clouds of meaning are the most significant influencers of behaviour in organisations. Therefore, it is important to ask: what clouds are there surrounding your change project? If you don’t know, then how can you go about figuring them out? How can you influence ‘offstage’ behaviour?

Five things to keep in mind when developing your change strategy

From my perspective, to influence offstage behaviour and implement change successfully, you have to identify your informal stakeholders – those key ‘offstage’ influencers in your organisation that have a leading role in each ‘cloud of meaning’. By investing time in direct communication with these individuals, you stand a better chance of increasing their positivity towards the project. Once they are on your side, their appreciation and understanding of the project will be authentically communicated back to their peers.

If in doubt, get the experts in

According to Prosci, those projects that address the people side of change are five to six times more successful than those that don’t2. It is therefore key that the program team has the necessary knowledge and tools to effectively carry out all of the above points and more. Delaware’s consultants have countless years of experience working in Change Management and are constantly developing new and innovative strategies to deliver the best change experience for our clients.