It’s All About the People


Changing people’s behaviour is a very difficult thing to do.

As parents, we teach our children from an early age and this gives us the experience of coaching a hearts and minds belief system or a set of values which we trust they will retain for the rest of their lives, but even starting this from birth is not easy.

At a given point in time, outside influences can take over and the ability to change mindsets become more difficult – I have a teenage son so have experienced this first hand!

When it comes to change management and making wholesale changes to a large organisation, we talk about three principal areas of change: People, Process and Tools.

Difficulties arise when you have created a set of new processes from a Central Group and you need to deploy it out to all relevant sites. My personal experience, as a Deployment Consultant, relates to the amount of push-back by the people on the local site, comments like:

“That won’t work here”, “We don’t have time to spend with you”, “You don’t understand, this site is different”.

When you hear these types of comments, you already know this is not going to be an easy journey and will probably result in schedules being late, budgets being broken and benefit realisation being compromised.

Success comes from involvement, if we are going to resolve an issue, then we do it together, we can share in its success and feel that it was ‘our solution’.

Now I’m not suggesting that a global company generate new business models or processes, by committee as that generally doesn’t end well!

However, I might suggest the following approach (even if you have the solution already in your pocket for deploy):

·       Approach a site or department with some design principles, to which the business will not deviate. These are your ‘four corners’ or boundaries if you like.

·       Make the statement that you want to include the Team into the design, so the new processes can be optimised, not only for the end-to-end solution but also for the site. Build some confidence that they have a say in the design, this will breed ownership in the longer term.

·       Use your ‘four corner’ principles to edge closer to the predetermined design and question the Teams responses that challenge the design and applaud the design suggestions that are totally in-line. This builds the Teams confidence that they are being heard and will undoubtedly uncover some real issues and opportunities that the Central Group did not think of. This is adding value to the design and will deliver major benefits when running the initial implementation.

This approach can take double the allotted time for explaining the ‘defined design’, but there are major benefits when implementing and for the longer term, predominantly:

·       When people are engaged at the design level, there is a feeling of involvement and that feeling breeds good ideas that help shape the quality of the results – this is a good thing;

·       If the people involved feel they have built the design, then they are more inclined to take ownership, which will pay the organisation back in next to no time;

·       If the people own the design, they will sell its benefits to the rest of the Team and push for implementation, rather than fighting it;

·       If the people own the design, the likelihood of creating a sustainable change on that site has just trebled.

I have completed many process re-engineering programmes and IS configurations to resolve the process and tools piece, but nothing comes close to the reward and satisfaction that comes from working with people and seeing the change in behaviour that promotes a united front to the business.

It is, ‘All About the People’.

Andy Taylor is a Co-Founder and Director of Teal Partners Ltd, who specialize in providing supply chain and operational solutions helping to drive business performance

Andy Taylor