Sunday, 19 April 2009

Some irrational thoughts on training and change management

McKinsey have recently published a very interesting paper entitled 'The Irrational Side of Change Management' You will need to have registered on their site to read the full paper but it is well worth it (and free). Thanks to my colleague Simon for pointing me in the right direction.

It provides some very insightful comments about traditional approaches to change management and how it is the practical implementation of the approaches that determine success or failure. It takes the following four conditions required for change and then examines what works and what doesn't:
  • a compelling story
  • role modeling
  • reinforcing mechanisms
  • capability building
All of the insights are essential reading but for Learning and Development professionals I found a couple to be of particular interest.

Let people write their own story:-

This reveals something about human nature: when we choose for ourselves, we are far more committed to the outcome (almost by a factor of five to one). Conventional approaches to change management underestimate this impact. The rational thinker sees it as a waste of time to let others discoverfor themselves what he or she already knows—why not just tell them and be done with it? Unfortunately this approach steals from others the energy needed to drive change that comes through a sense of ownership of the answer.

At BP, to develop a comprehensive training program for frontline leaders, a decision was made to involve every key constituency in the design of the program, giving them a sense of “writing their own lottery ticket.” It took a year and a half to complete the design using this model but was well worth it: now in implementation, the program is the highest rated of its
kind at BP. More than 250 active senior managers from across the business willingly teach the course, and, most important, managers who have been through the training program are consistently ranked higher in performance than those who haven’t, both by their bosses and by the employees who report to them.

Employees are what they think and believe in:-

As managers attempt to drive performance by changing the way employees behave, they all too often neglect the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that, in turn, drive behavior.

The articles describes a successful training programme that focused on the the mind set of the delegates and helped this determine the most appropriate training approach to help change their behaviour

Good intentions aren't enough:-

Good skill-building programs usually take into account that people learn better by doing than by listening. These programs are replete with interactive simulations and role plays, and commitments are made by participants regarding what they will “practice” back in the workplace. But come Monday morning, very few keep their commitments.

Instead, a “field and forum” approach should be taken, in which classroom training is spread over a series of learning forums and fieldwork is assigned in between. Second, we suggest creating fieldwork assignments that link directly to the day jobs of participants, requiring them to put into practice new mind-sets and skills in ways that are hardwired into their responsibilities. These assignments should have quantifiable, outcome-based measures that indicate levels of competence gained and certification that recognizes and rewards the skills attained.

Some really good practical advice is contained in the paper and these are items that are simple to put into place. For me they have reinforced what I have also seen - both on the receiving end and the delivery end....

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