Use this change management process for successful talent initiatives

Published by:
Joe Caccavale
August 3, 2020
min read

Fact: More than 70% of large “change programs” fail.

This is how to make sure yours isn’t one of them.

Making real, measurable change is hard. Convincing your organisation to try something new is only half the battle... you then have to make sure they actually stick to it.

The two biggest hurdles to your change management process are..

1. Changing behaviour and mindsets

Most initiatives will require a fair degree of behaviour change. People in your organisation will need to change the way they do things - and a lot of people are going to be perfectly happy with the way they’re already doing them.

The more of a mindset change is needed, the harder it’s going to be to make your initiative a reality.

2. Connecting your goals to the rest of the team’s

Initiatives from HR/ People functions can be fairly admin-heavy and seem relatively disconnected from the wider business goals the fest of the organisation is working towards.

You’ll need to find a way to align your objective to those of the wider organisation - how is your initiative going to help them achieve their goals?  

So, the question we’re going to answer is: How do you change mindsets and correctly position your change within your organisation?

Use this framework for successful talent initiatives 

  1. Strengthen the HR/ People function
  2. Create a process for driving change
  3. Be aware of a few behavioural science principles 
  4. Develop a skillset for change management 

How to strengthen the HR/ People function

You need to frame your talent initiatives as business cases. 

Your organisation wouldn’t dive into a new sales initiative without thinking about the return on investment, so the same should apply to the talent function.

At Applied, we appreciate that transforming the way your organisation hires is a pretty significant change - one that we have to prove the value of first.

That’s why we built this ROI calculator - to show the economic impact of the change.

We also send our customers impact reports...

These are short and sweet decks that highlight the impact and benefits of the work people are doing using our platform.

The better you can illustrate how actions transform into benefits, the easier it will be to get your initiatives off the ground.

Our change management process for driving tangible results

Step 1: Create a climate for change

Before even attempting to bring your initiatives to life, you’ll need to get the rest of the organisation bought into your vision.

Getting people excited is the easy part. Getting your whole organisation on board is where you’re going to potentially come unstuck.

The most effective way around this is to create urgency.

Make the business case for your initiatives to the main decision-makers. Instead of just focusing on the benefits of the change, drive home the cost of staying in the status quo - what are they losing by not making the change?

Change management is all about aligning your goals with those you’re trying to convince.

So, personalise the cost of not changing and the impact it’ll have based on the motivations of each decision-maker. What are they missing out on personally?

You need to show them that the cost is very much real, as are the potential benefits, which is why the more real-life examples and stories you share, the more convincing you’ll be.  

Similarly, you could also look at what competitors are doing. Maybe they’re making a change that you’re behind on, or perhaps your organisation would have an edge that they’re missing.

It’s important to frame initiatives as a process, and not something that will happen overnight. Teammates should be aware that it’ll take conscious and sustained effort to make and sustain these changes.

Step 2: Engage and enable your whole organisation

Once you’ve got the necessary buy-in, it’s time to start making change happen.

Your change management process should consist of plenty of sessions with key stakeholders. Use these to communicate your vision - be explicit about what you’re trying to achieve and how they will benefit as a result. Just like with the decision-makers above, this is a chance to match your vision to the individual needs of your colleagues.

You should also schedule one on one training for the most critical stakeholders. Try to understand their position and empathise as best as you can. You don’t want to make their jobs unnecessarily difficult.

Chances are, even change management vets are going to run into some barriers along the way. Try mapping any possible blockers or obstacles you can think of and share the plans that others have used to get around them.

It’s essential to show some quick wins early on.

Start by identifying small, manageable projects that can be changed first and share the results.

Maybe you could start by trialing your change in a single team before rolling out company-wide.

If you did step 1 correctly, you can ask the exec team to communicate the results of your small wins to the rest of the organisation… just make sure you’re explicit about the results. Are people taking away what you want them to take away?

Recognition is also a vital part of any successful change management process. Be sure to reward any early contributors so that they feel their efforts are acknowledged and appreciated.

Step 3: Implement and sustain change

To keep your change alive, you’ll need to continue over-communicating your vision and quick wins - keeping the purpose of the change and it’s success top-of-mind.

As you expand across more teams, keep up the support and training. You could create some basic resources around the vision that you can then share as the change is rolled out. This could also be made part of the onboarding process so that the change eventually becomes part of the culture. 

A few behavioural science principles for change management

If you can understand how people think, you can be more effective at winning them over and changing mindsets.

Here are a few key principles and how they affect change management…

Present bias

We tend to value the present over the future and prefer payoffs closer to the present.

This is why a lot of people find money-saving so hard.

Actions you can take…

It’s important to get those quick wins. People want results and outcomes now, not years down the line.

This is also why we focus on creating urgency at the start of the change management process. You don’t want change to seem too far ahead.

Status quo

Us humans like things to stay the same, and can be resistant to change.

Actions you can take…

This can be a barrier to creating urgency which is why you should be emphasising the benefits and the end vision throughout the entire process.

Loss aversion

“Losses loom larger than gains.” Potential loss is actually 2x more powerful than gain.

Actions you can take…

Frame benefits in terms of losses.

How much money is being lost as a result of not changing?

IKEA effect

Invested labour leads to inflated product valuation.

In other words, the more time you sink into something, the higher you’ll tend to value it.

Actions you can take…

Include others in your change management planning and build a coalition. The more people’s time is sunk into the change, the more likely it will be to stick.

Developing change management skills

Below we’ve listed the core skillset required for change management. We’d recommend mapping yourself against each of these skills.

Rate yourself out of 5, and write down a practical next step for each skill.

Change management skills:

  • Strategic analysis 
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Framework building
  • Behavioural science understanding
  • Project management

Applied was designed to make hiring more predictive for employers and fairer for candidates. Find out how we’re changing the way organisations hire via our resources or start your free trial of the Applied platform.