Behavioral data to drive change

Know Your People: the real key to creating a change campaign that drives success

Has this every happened to you and your project?

Imagine approaching a major organizational change – maybe something like the implementation of a new Human Capital Management system, and like the many other operational or process changes made before, you have a team of system and process designers, project managers to keep things on track, subject matter experts and strategic advisors to ensure the decisions stay aligned toward business results. You also have a team member focused on the change management – communication, training, getting people from here to there. Great start!

Common change management approaches and techniques will serve this project well. Likely, the following activities will be completed and provide great insight and influence effective plans:

  • Analysis by interviews of key users and leaders, looking at how the old system/processes and new system/processes will differ and the impact of that.
  • Keep stakeholders informed, educated around the change impact and their role as sponsors. Could be meetings, discussions, newsletters, podcasts.
  • Robust communication campaign of email, town halls, small team meetings; training sessions (video, in-person) and job aids/tutorials; performance metrics and incentives, maybe bonus-eligible.

You’ll go live and might have some success – or you might have missed the mark just a bit and employees struggle. What happened? What could have been done better? These change management methodologies are proven, right? What was missed?

Now imagine just one small – but very effective – shift.

In your analysis, you captured insight (actual hard data, not anecdotal) to the natural drives and behaviors of the leaders and employees impacted by this change.

The result? Now you know how people are hardwired for certain environment and communication preferences, which allowed you to accurately predict how they’d respond to the shift. That insight is the key to creating a change campaign that specifically aligns in a way that will resonate with them. It’s well worth the effort!

Applying concepts from the talent optimization platform Predictive Index, there are two behavioral factors that play a large role in predicting how people will respond to change:

  • How comfortable you are with risk – cautious or comfortable.
  • How you take action – reactively or proactively.

People who are comfortable with risk show up saying things like “let’s go and don’t look back; we’ll figure it out”. Those are your Change Champions – they’re on board from the start. Those who are more cautious will need a little more time, they’ll need more details. They may be your Change Challengers. Not that they won’t be advocates for the shift, but they may need more effort to help them move along.

People who tend to respond more reactively will show up as though they are pushing the pause button to think through all possible risks before getting too far ahead. Being proactive may show up being prepared, creating a plan and executing a clear path. Both styles can get there, but they’ll go about it differently.

By understanding the profiles of the leaders and those impacted by the change, and tailoring a change strategy to meet those needs, will result in a more successful adoption.

What to hear more? I’ll be exploring this topic with my friend and colleague John Broer from In2Great at the upcoming ACMP Midwest Change Conference on October 29, 2019. We’d love to see you there!

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