I’ve been thinking a lot about change recently and more importantly why change fails to land in business.
Change fails for many reasons I guess but I want to concentrate here on a few things I have seen.
I wrote a blog a while ago on performance appraisals and the hype around companies removing them because they are outdated and inefficient (apparently according to industry experts, academics and the sales teams of the next big thing).
Some of that blog touches on the fact that we have actually been having these conversations for over 40 years now.
In 1970 ( Yes 1970) The Personnel Director at British Steel said “We do not call them appraisals, we find that this implies we are looking back and dissecting the past. We want our emphasis to be constructive, developmental and forward looking”
We also have seen that many employers who had previously removed their performance reviews are putting them back in as they have found that they were actually useful doing the job they were designed to do.
So why did the change fail to land when we are told that the evidence suggests that the practice is not effective?
Change requires an alternative credible solution
Show me a better way
This is I believe the crux of the matter!
We are seeing more and more specialists declare what is right and wrong in business and the world but often they fail to offer:
- An actual new solution
- Advice on how you can move from state A (our current dystopia) to state B (Utopia) and what the end product/place will look like
- Scalable examples that show how different solutions work for a company of 100 or a company of 300,000, or indeed from one industry to another.
- An appreciation that different companies/people are at different stages of their journey (whether this be towards data processes, people solutions or personal development)
- An understanding of the actual day job that the individual they are trying to persuade needs to change does day in day out
It has been in vogue for a couple of years now for experts and trade mags to let the HR community know that what it is doing is wrong however just telling folk what is wrong without the solution then surely this is bad for business?
A great current example is people analytics, this and all the surrounding areas like Ai, HR technology, Big Data, Evidence Based XYZ and future of work are all popular opinion pieces in magazines and many people are discussing these themes and why we might be doing it wrong.
But when you ask how do we start on a journey to better people analytics they struggle to tell you how and this is because letting people know why we should do something is quite easy to articulate for most people, this often simply requires some knowledge and a bit of common sense.
How we do it isn’t so easy, this require some more specific knowledge and experience in the area of discussion.
With people analytics you need to think about how you will store your data, the tools you will use to extract, curate and analyse the data, the skills you will need, are you building a data warehouse approach or will you be running a suite of reports from one or multiple systems, is BI on your company agenda, where are you on the maturity model, what are you measuring and why….and on and on
It’s easy to call out the problem but unless you, or someone within the conversation, can articulate the solution with consideration to the 5 points above I personally think it’s not likely to land well and be sustainable.
Not everyone of course is like this, the most enlightening talk on performance appraisal reviews I have seen was from the team at Verditer Consulting who were able to discuss the issues with the current approach to small local businesses and large multi nationals, and then also provide some fantastic advice on what companies could do to land change, the pitfalls to watch out for and why they might not want to consider change if what they do actually works for them.
They were able to articulate the 5 points;
- Describe what a new solution could look like
- Advise on how to make this change with all levels in the business
- Show different approaches that might be considered for different sized businesses or populations
- Explain how to back out current processes, review what works and what does not and see where you are now
- Understand what the day job is and what impact this would have on the HR function.
So the next time someone tells you that coaching doesn’t work, discount platforms are not effectual for helping engagement or your old ways are the wrong ways, take some time to go through the above 5 points to see if they are a positive and reliable force for change or not and take some time to work out what is right for you based on what you are trying to do and where you are at on your journey.
This blog was written by Nick Court.
Or contact Nick directly on firstname.lastname@example.org
At Cloud9 People we help all sizes of companies look at how they can add value to their people conversations, feel free to get in touch and see how we could help you.