Good question! This is something I have been asked a lot in the past when companies are rolling out a new system or making an organizational change. “Surely, we just need to let our employees know that the change is coming, and provide training?”
A common misconception in the world of change. Training is an integral part of a full change program, but should only be present when surrounded by a wealth of change activities.
So what is the difference between Organizational Change Management and training?
I’d like to draw on an experience I had at a previous company years ago. I was just starting out in the world of training (and had never even heard of or considered organizational change management as a process!). My boss popped an invite in my calendar titled ‘CRM Training Session’, and when the time came for it, myself and the team traipsed into the boardroom plied with notepads, pens and an air of forced enthusiasm about this new mystical system.
In this session. it was explained to all of us all that we should start using a new CRM tool with immediate effect. We were to log all client details, engagements, conversations, meetings etc. in there so it could all be “tracked easily”. This was not something we were used to doing, and it immediately seemed like more unnecessary admin for our busy schedules.
We had an hour overview of how to use the system, where an external partner demoed the tool and sung its praises (I believe this was the “product training”). We were then sent away with instructions to record all client engagements in there straight away. Unfortunately, our trainer was met with our grumbles of “we don’t possibly have the time to fill this out every 5 minutes”, and “management is obviously trying to keep tabs on our work”. Our department’s change resistance was so vocal that when we left the session, the CRM system went unused.
- We did not understand fully why this was being introduced
- We did not see any tangible benefits
- It was a huge overhaul in the way we had always worked
- We had no grace period in which to get used to it
- It was too time-consuming – we still had to continue our daily roles
- We didn’t fully understand how to use the product effectively
- We had no incentive to use it
- We weren’t familiar with the interface and it looked clunky
The list could go on, but these were just some of the reasons I concluded as to why our change resistance was so great. This, teamed with a few vocal people claiming it would never work, meant that it was widely ignored. Word soon spread across other departments that it wasn’t being used and so they also were able to discount the idea of using it.
Looking back, our seniors and program managers must have despaired. They spent a considerable amount of money and had agreed amongst them the benefits that would be realized once it was in action. However, this message had not filtered down properly and was widely misunderstood. The deployment was therefore unable to realize any noticeable ROI or anticipated benefits that had originally been envisaged.
What went wrong?
It’s evident that a distinct lack of meaningful communications from the offset had a part to play. There was also an absence of stakeholder engagement and analysis, user profiling, and benefits mapping (all of which are covered extensively in our OCM program at Arkadin). It looked as if management had made the decision in the best interests of the company, and assumed that if we all attended a training session then this would be enough for us to overhaul how we worked, stop old habits and fully embrace a new way of working.
The example above looks at a deployment of a CRM system – however, the precedent is true for any organizational change. It’s evident that training is a pivotal time in any transition or deployment, however, training alone will not change ways of working. Extensive change management work in the build-up to a change is the only way to mitigate anticipated resistance. Luckily, at Arkadin, we pride ourselves on our Organizational Change Management practice being a standout service – get in touch today to find out more about how it works!