Knowledge is Power: Training and Change Management

by | May 5, 2022

Getting any project, big or small, over the finish line can be difficult. And it’s heartbreaking to see everything going right on a project only for it to falter at roll-out. Change Management is the best way to make sure the projects you’re working on achieve their full potential.

Axsium developed our Change Management methodology over years of experience delivering high-impact WFM projects for clients around the world. We break it down into four major pillars:

This month, it’s time to think about how getting training right can help a project achieve it’s true potential.

Making Training Central to Your Change Management

Training is a vital part of the Change Management process. It’s also one that may seem relatively simple. But doing training right means more than just putting together a module for the change and making sure everyone knows where it is.

Axsium’s Change Management specialists split training into three phases: Discovery, Development, and Delivery. This allows us to ensure the right people get the right training at the right time. And it helps us develop and deliver training materials that do more than just inform—they engage.

A woman in retail training a man. Training is an important part of Change Management.

Discovery

Our Change Management specialists gather several key pieces of information before putting together a training plan. This information is all related to the three most important words in the world of training: who, what, and when.

There are two important stakeholder groups you need to identify right at the start of your training work. Who owns the creation and delivery of your training material? And who needs to receive that training?

Often overlooked in Change Management projects, training content creators and deliverers are vital to your overall success. But even if you know who makes up this group, do they know they are responsible? Making sure everyone clearly knows and understands these responsibilities will make the rest of the project go far more smoothly.

And, of course, you have to know exactly who needs the training. But even with that knowledge, you may find identifying what type of training a particular stakeholder group needs challenging. But it’s not just about understanding what they need to know—it’s about understanding how best to communicate.

For instance, an in-store stock manager may be used to a significantly different form of training than someone on the Head Office Finance Team. And that’s not even taking into account the wide variety of different learning styles.

Finally, establish when your stakeholder groups should receive the training. This may seem simple, but there’s a careful balance you need to achieve. At Axsium, we use the term “Lag to Live” to describe the time between when training should occur and roll-out. It’s all about finding the training sweet spot. Do your training too early and your stakeholders could forget. Train too close to launch and you’ll leave too little time for questions and feedback.

Development

Developing training content usually takes a lot of stakeholders, leading to an unusually iterative process. But don’t worry, it’s not a reflection on the quality of your development team’s work. Really, this iterative process highlights how important it is to get this content right. And you need to have the right people involved from creation all the way to review.

In fact, don’t be afraid to begin building the next stage of your training content while the first is going through review. More often than not, you’ll find the revisions to the first stage will help you further shape the second. This will, in turn, make the next review process shorter.

Finally, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of “best in class” content. Obviously, you need to aim for quality, but it’s more important to focus on “best for our culture.” Build your training content around what works with your company’s style of doing business and your industry. Otherwise, you could find yourself trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

Two women doing training on a computer. Training is an important part of Change Management.

Delivery

So, you know who will be developing and receiving your training, you know when it needs to be provided, and you’ve developed your content. All that’s left is to actually deliver it. There are a few things our Change Management team keep in mind when delivering training.

Firstly, we make sure we understand the best approach to delivery for our specific client. Knowing a client is one thing—understanding what works best for them is another. And make sure you are as knowledgeable as possible in whichever approach you’re taking. Is it best to provide easy-to-access digital guides? What about virtual training sessions? Or do you still need physical printouts for key areas?

We also ensure that key departments maintain and update our training, be that Learning and Development, HR, or any other relevant groups. This training isn’t just for your current employees—new hires and future promotions will need it as well.

Tactical Training Examples

In each blog in our Change Management series, we’ll use the example of our two fictional grocers, We Sell Tomatoes and We Sell Potatoes. We Sell Tomatoes is using the Axsium Change Management methodology. We Sell Potatoes is not.

Planning Ahead

We Sell Tomatoes and We Sell Potatoes are both focusing on the training that will accompany their project roll-outs. They know the training needs to happen, but one company is putting a lot more work into the process than the other.

We Sell Tomatoes has gone through the Discovery, Development, Delivery process. They’ve identified the team that will create the training content and who will support the effort. They’ve identified the stakeholder groups that will need the training. As it’s a mix of in-store and Head Office employees, they’ve developed a multi-format training plan.

In consultation with their store managers, the We Sell Tomatoes management team schedules the training to start a month before the change. This will give their teams enough time to ask questions if anything is unclear. But it will be close enough to roll-out that it should still be fresh when it’s needed. They also set up an email for employees to provide feedback on the training.

We Sell Potatoes, on the other hand, is taking a drastically different approach. The Change Management lead drafts a set of training materials that lacks a target audience. It is generic, overly complicated and is provided somewhere deep in Sharepoint. And they’ve scheduled the training the weekend before roll-out.

Results

Thanks to their meticulous planning, We Sell Tomatoes find themselves in a good place at roll-out. Having done the training a month in advance, their stakeholder groups are ready to take the reins right away. And because they encouraged feedback, they identify an element of the change to cash register processes that they hadn’t anticipated.

We Sell Tomatoes tailored their training to each stakeholder group, so the change is adopted with minimal fuss. Finally, because the training content is maintained by HR for future use, it’s easily accessible for new employees.

We Sell Potatoes, on the other hand, run into significant problems. Their stakeholder groups engage with the training content either too-little-too-late or even after the change has rolled out. Because the Change Management lead developed the content without properly consulting the groups who would use it, it isn’t sufficient and lacks flow.

Lewin’s Change Model

Change Management teams often get too focused on the future state after the change has rolled out. Lewin’s Change Model, on the other hand, is designed to understand the delta between the current and future state.

Practitioners do this by taking an approach called Unfreeze—Change—Refreeze. Essentially Lewin’s Change Model thinks about your organization as though it were set in ice. You need to make the organization malleable (unfreeze), make that change (Change), then tighten it back into the new shape (Refreeze).

This approach to understanding change as freezing and unfreezing is useful. It allows you to take a snapshot of the organization pre-change and think about what you want it to look like post-change. And that makes it easier to think about training. What do you need to do between unfreezing and refreezing to turn present state into future state?

What Next?

Training is a difficult thing to get right. Any HR professional can tell you that. It’s all about knowing who needs to know what when, then planning around making that happen smoothly.

Axsium’s Change Management specialists have extensive experience delivering effective training designed for our client’s specific workforces and timed right. Interested in learning more? Reach out and we can talk about what your specific organization needs.

And don’t forget to check in next month for the final blog in our series, where we’ll be talking about getting your change adopted.

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