Saturday, 31 January 2009

Using Training as a Change Lever......awareness and understanding

This is the second part in my 'Using Training as a Change Lever' series.

Getting people in an organisation to change can be a tough nut to crack. There are many change levers that you can pull and training is certainly one of
them. Of course in practice the trick is to pull a set of levers adjusting each one all of the time as you steer your course through the change maze.

So how can you use training to get people moving along the commitment curve ?

Let's think about an example - imagine you are a large financial institution and you realise that you need to change certain aspects of your culture, perhaps implementing more formal controls into your environment. Most people in the organisation will just not be interested in changing unless they understand what is behind the change and how this could impact them.

Specific training interventions can have some real impact here. For example rolling out a short piece of eLearning to every employee that details what the company is doing (and why) and
what kind of changes need to take place. What does this do?
  • it makes sure that every person is aware of the change
  • it provides a consistent level of messaging to everyone in the organisation
  • it provides each employee with a base level of understanding about the change.
Of course this now means that people are starting to think about the "what's in it for me" (WIIFM) question and will generate all sorts of queries and debates. Therefore making sure the managers and leaders in the organisation are equipped with the right information is vital.

As with all training it is important to think carefully and agree the outcomes that you want as a result of people receiving it. Thinking about the commitment curve then you need to think about the following:
  • What are the differences in skills, knowledge and attitude that we want from people as they move from 'awareness' to 'understanding' for example.
  • How will you know that people have moved up the curve - what will it look ad feel like (both as an observer but also as an individual going through the change)
  • How will you be able to measure and therefore demonstrate that people have 'moved'?
If you go through this process then the learning interventions you design will be focused on achieving the right outcomes giving you a good chance of success.

So for example there may be a whole series of learnlets that you develop to achieve your outcomes and make the learning stick. Here are a couple of examples of 'learnlets' that are useful at the early stages of the commitment curve:
  • regular talking heads from a variety of people across the organisation. Demonstrating how the change will impact them, what it means to them and how they are dealing with it.
  • regular briefings from senior management updating people on what is happening. There are a huge variety of ways to do this. Think about blogs, Twitter, video blogs, wikis and any number of social networking tools.
  • short bites of eLearning that focus on a particular aspect of the change. Regular 10 minute chunks that people get used to receiving. It means minimal impact on their job but a regular 'drum beat' of information.
As you can see many of these items are about communicating information - it's about raising awareness and starting to develop an understanding.

As a learning professional you need to be creative, work closely with the Communications function......and be tenacious. People don't like change - you will meet resistence at every stage.

In my next post I'll take a look at how we start moving people towards adoption - another set of challenges! If you are up for that then check back soon..

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