Tag Archives: change team

Change Advocates — a good idea?

The idea of advocating change

Change AdvocateChange advocates both promote change in a business and help protect staff from poor change implementation. They do this by advocating the change on behalf of the business and being a channel between affected staff  and senior managers. The role demands trust and respect from both staff and managers; here is how it works.

The problem the Change Advocate role tries to solve is how to get buy in to major changes where the change is managed by a central Change Team. We have worked with Cheshire West and Chester Council to help implement this concept. The project is now on the shortlist for an Award at the Training Journal Awards.

The Change Advocate Role

Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWCC) realised that centralised project management was efficient for doing change but tended to cause resistance from the front line staff so it was not as effective as it should be. The Change Advocate is a member of front line staff (manager or worker) who is trained and supported in delivering change. They have two aspects to the role which each advocate needs to balance.

Promoting Change

The Change advocate promotes the proposed change to front line staff. They communicate directly with affected staff about the change, using communications skills they have learned on training. Advocates expect to be involved in planning change; stakeholder engagement is key to successfully designing an effective and acceptable change. With prior engagement, selling a change to staff is much easier. Advocates will be involved in rolling out the change, continuing the communication. They will lead in solving problems in a way that both reduces risks to the benefits and increases the confidence of staff in the changes.

Promoting the interests of staff

Change advocates are themselves affected by the change they are promoting so they have a vested interest in a successful and acceptable change. They have the ability to put the staff side of an argument (with the central change team) to senior managers and advocate on behalf of staff. Very often this role leads to more creative solutions to change problems which are based on reality.

What makes an Advocate?

An advocate needs to be self motivated (and is usually self selecting as a volunteer). They need the trust and support of the staff they are working with. Often the basis of this trust is both a transparent approach to work and knowledge of the front line based on experience. They also need to be able to talk directly to senior managers as peers in problem solving change issues. In many organisations this can be challenging. CWCC are working hard to create a culture of support and challenge to make these conversations easier all round.

Supporting Change Advocates

In creating the first cohort of Change Advocates, CWCC worked with us to support the role with three specific components:

Networking

It is very important for an individual advocate to realise they are not alone and that others are having similar difficulties. Regular networking events with the opportunity to share experience and problems are essential. CWCC held networking events every month for the whole cohort. These were carefully timetabled with time to chat and share, as well as more focused discussions and learning sound-bites to reinforce training associated with identified problems.

Problem solving

The cohort were randomly allocated to small Action Learning Sets. The purpose of these was threefold:

  • To train the cohort in a specific supportive problem solving technique.
  • To provide the basis for ongoing collaboration with a small group of colleagues across the Council.
  • As further networking, but on a smaller, more intimate, basis.

The Action Learning Sets were initially facilitated to establish the format and procedures. After a few meetings they became self facilitating.

Training

A short training course on some soft skills for change was used to introduce the concepts of people change and effective communication recognising individual preferences. Change Advocates then took a vocational Level 4 assessment to achieve a qualification in Managing Change from C4CM.

About You

How is change organised in your organisation to make effective and efficient use of resources to deliver beneficial change? Comment in twitter and let us know. @C4ChangeMgt

The strategy dilemma for change

Strategy in ChangeTranslating a guess into a plan

The dilemma for change managers leading a strategic organisation change is translating the uncertainty of the strategic analysis and decisions into actionable plans to deliver benefits. The problem is that there is no right answer to the question “what should our strategy be?”

The strategists have looked into the future using a number of strategy tools and have identified some scenarios which appear to be good for the organisation. The resulting strategy they have chosen (captured in their strategic objectives for the organisation) is dependent on an array of factors, some under the control of the organisation, many are not. Since it is not possible to carry out a trial of the strategy you have to run with the one chosen and make the best of it.

In making the best of the current strategy the change leader must also hedge some futures so that any changes made to the organisation keep open as many options as possible for the future and don’t back the organisation into a position where it no longer works in the reality that arises.

What can the change leaders do to manage their dilemma?

Click here to find out

Design your change around decisions

Decisions first, organisation later

Gormley ExhibitionWhich do you think should come first: the definition of the task to be carried out or the team to do the task? So what happens when an organisation needs to change: the top manager re-organises his senior team to prepare for the change. This seems to be putting the cart before the horse. Especially as the ‘new’ team have a new operational role to get to grips with before they can address the changes.

I propose that the key decisions needed to set up a change initiative are identified and then the appropriate leadership team are appointed to make those decisions.

click here to find out how

Do you know why?

picture of the word whyWhy is it important?

Three things popped into my mind this week: a paper in the recent Sloan Management Review about the basic question every project should answer; a graphic in a book about project types due to Eddie Obeng; and recollections about reviewing projects. They all revolve around the question ‘why are we doing this project?’. The answer for a change project is the list of benefits! But obviously tackling the question is harder than you might think.

click here to find out how hard and why!

Where does change management fit?

Positioning change managementInside, outside, alongside

In a recent tutorial, Prosci proposed some models for organising a change team with a project team. They came up with four models described below. I think they missed the most important model. Read through the article and see if you agree with me.

click here to work it out