Change Management is Evolving—You Need to Evolve Too

by | Apr 11, 2024

It feels like we say the same thing every year: “Wow! Things have really changed since enter significant timeframe”. And that feeling isn’t wrong! The reality is, the world is moving at an exponential rate when it comes to, well, everything.

In our day-to-day work, many Axsium Consultants deal with the Change of Change. Not sure what that is? Another way to think of it is the Evolution of Change Management. Still not sure exactly what I mean?

Let’s break it down a bit.

You work in a Distribution Center, and your company is putting together a new process to expedite fulfillment. How do you find out about this change? I’m willing to bet that your first thought is something like:

  • You get an email from your boss (or boss’s boss) with some information
  • You see a print-out/poster in the breakroom with the new steps
  • Your manager tells you about the change at your daily huddle

Am I close?

These methods cover the basics of communication and training. They’re provided via multiple mediums and highlight new steps. But things have drastically changed in terms of the employee experience—not to mention employee expectations.

We’ve seen recent (and rapid) evolution in labor laws, COVID-related process changes, and innovations within employee-facing technologies. And Change Management has evolved new standards and expectations to account for those changes.

Here are some evolving elements of Change Management our practitioners have noticed recently.

Accessible Training & Communication in Change Management

You’ve likely noticed some pretty rapid evolution in the medium and methods for training and communication recently. In our Distribution Center example, emails, print-outs, and huddles were our information sources. While you will certainly see these today, there’s one innovation that’s shifting everything.

Change communication and training are becoming increasingly employee-driven. The ubiquity of mobile technology is having a huge hand in this. Companies that offer mobile solutions, like Workjam, are seeing rapid growth as a consequence.

There’s also a noticeable jump in the use of accessible video training through QR codes. This is particularly exciting because it ensures training is available where and when needed. No need to run back to the breakroom to read the new process anymore!

And companies are increasingly using multiple mediums to communicate Change information. This goes beyond emails and daily huddles. My colleagues have seen poster campaigns, newsletters, direct-to-employee messaging (via mobile apps), and much more.

You can trace this updated approach to skillsets used in marketing campaigns. The use of many communication channels and repetition have found a new home in internal change management.

The simplest way to think about this is that Change communication is now leaning into targeted messages, via multiple mediums with accessible information for employees at all levels. This is a much more advanced practice than the “large net” approach of an email or poster.

Change management and training are vital

“Everyone is a Trainer”

The training process has changed significantly in recent years. And, while employees may not know the name of their trainers anymore, they sure do know how training looks and feels when it’s happening.

So, who is the trainer? In fact, the role has begun to trickle down to every level. On top of any “onboarding training” from corporate, we have supervisors providing training on certain internal processes, while co-workers are training each other on production-focused processes. This is another evolution that has been largely driven by COVID.

Gone are the grey training rooms! Now it’s hands-on, on-the-job training guided by a manager or co-worker. This is bringing new importance to the Train-the-Trainer approach. Essentially, the person receiving training will also learn how to train people on the tier below them, and so on.

The Location Champion is a great alternative to this approach. The Location Champion isn’t typically the manager or supervisor. Instead, they’ll generally be a subject matter expert within your location who seems to just “get it.” They then become the designated trainer when new team members join.

But there’s one big question every organization who uses the Location Champion approach needs to answer. How do you incentivize this type of role? Some organizations have given the role its own title (and pay increase) to minimize turnover.

Of course, the beauty of this approach is that it ensures hands-on accessible training directly in your locations. And it works whether you are a retail store, a distribution center, a manufacturing plant, or even a hospital ward.

Remember the training Super User? The Location Champion takes this idea and places an equivalent in every location, making training a lot more hands-on.

Change Management KPIs for Intangibles

From a corporate or C-suite perspective, Change Management is an odd duck. Many organizations recognize its importance to achieving successful change adoption. But just as many organizations struggle to pin down what success within Change Management itself means.

In the past, if a WFM Implementation went live on-time and/or on-budget, that was a success! If the server room didn’t explode, that was a success! Now, organizations are trying to understand Change Management’s impact on success.

At Axsium, we’ve helped organizations leverage data from their communications and training efforts to develop adoption and engagement KPIs. Here are three of my favourites:

  • Number of tickets/calls related to access issues
    • Access is often taught and/or communicated, but it must be made a priority in the lead up to Day 1 or you risk overlooking it
  • Number of errors on timecards
    • If employees have learned how to enter or capture their time, these errors should be minimal throughout the first week and first month
  • Check-Ins to online training documentation
    • Tracking click-throughs on your internal training will help you understand how successfully your people are accessing it by location and group

Navigating the Evolutions in Change Management

Workforces and the realm of employee engagement have both changed monumentally. It’s only natural that Change Management and how we manage its success has changed as well.

I recently got to meet a local organization that specializes in AR (Augmented Reality) technology. This technology helps manufacturing companies train their employees on-the-job with AR Glasses.

Using these glasses, workers can see their environment while also seeing training documents. They can even use them to jump on a Zoom call with an expert trainer. This is just a taste of the future of training and access, and one that shows great promise.

Bob Clements, Axsium’s CEO, recently wrote about the pendulum of employee/employer power swinging back towards employers. This was bound to happen after the massive swing towards employees over the last few years.

That being said, this is a pendulum we’re talking about—and a pendulum will swing. There are many factors that can turn the tide back to employees. A lack of top tier training and communications is one of them.

The workforce is always evolving. Change Management is evolving with it—don’t be left behind.

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