26 April 2007

Choice and Change

I believe that personal CHOICE has a huge impact on the way that change is both perceived and dealt with.

Does the end user feel that he or she has a choice in the changes that are being made? For example, if a new software package is being implemented, did the user have any say as to which package was chosen?

Regarding training for change: Are you giving the user a choice as to how he/she will be trained in the new application or business process? For example, are you making several different types of training available (computer-based and instructor-led) to allow the users to pick the method they prefer. One size does not fit all when it comes to training and training is a crucial tool in successful change management.

I have personally encountered users who would rather switch jobs (such as: move to a new department within their company, take a buy-out or even retire) rather than accept change, such as learning a new software package. As long as this choice can be accommodated, it makes perfect sense for both user and the company that is making the change.

I’m not saying that companies should not change. I’m saying that, as much as possible, giving their users a CHOICE as to how the changes are implemented is a key factor to doing it successfully.

21 April 2007

I know it's been a while!

It's been nearly a year since my last post on this blog. You might be asking, "Well, what took you so long?" It's a fair question.

Sometimes life intervenes. In my case, the number of children in my household doubled and my family moved across the North American continent. All of this change meant that the level of stress increased dramatically in my life and that of my family. I wish that I could tell you that we all found healthy means to work with the higher stress levels, but no, we didn't. As with most human beings, we handled some issues well, some issues poorly, and other issues somewhere in between.

From a business operations perspective, many of the company's business processes changed, responsibilities shifted, and activities had to be handled differently. Again, some of the staff sailed through these changes with no apparent difficulties, others experienced a few minor bumps along the way, and a few were unable, or unwilling, to handle the changing business environment.

It's been a year of upheaval and change. I thought about this blog at least once a week telling myself that I would write about . . . something. Then the demands of family, friends, and business would carry me away into another engrossing activity.

Now that I can look back over the past year's events, I find myself more empathetic regarding the changes we ask our clients to accept and embrace. Change is a fact of life. We make this statement to ourselves and our clients' employees during every implementation, migration, or upgrade. Business is constantly evolving. We encourage process improvement and business transformation to help companies and their employees to keep pace with the ever changing economic landscape.

Yet, rarely do we, as advisers and consultants, acknowledge overtly the tremendous stress that this constant adjusting can produce in people's work and personal lives. We schedule meetings and talk about change management and business transformation. Perhaps what we really need to discuss is the stress caused by change and how to manage it.

These are some initial thoughts. I plan to write more on this topic and other training related topics over the next several months. I'd be very interested in hearing what others think about business transformation and the stress it creates in the workplace.