20 Change Management Lessons from Working Over 20 years in Change
Talk to almost anyone about change, and it immediately brings up feelings of stress.
We like to get comfortable in our routines. Yes, we stretch, we grow, but at a pace that feels, well, convenient because we’re in control. Thriving when we’re out of control is a much tougher prospect; it takes us out of our sweet spot on our way to discover what we hope will be a new cozy place.
The bottom line to successful change, whether personal or organizational, is it requires change management. Winging it will take you somewhere, all change does, but it may not be where you want, or intend, to go.
Out of undergrad, I was hired as a change management consultant and never looked back. Since then, I’ve not only focused on organizational change but began to research and understand what creates change for each one of us as an individual.
Poor reception for some early change management programs I supported taught me that change management is not the same as project management. Early on, most of my change management experience was related to IT change. Successfully cutover from one system to the new system and boom – change management. Um, no.Unfortunately, that thinking glossed over the magic that would make the change stick and avoid pissing of critical employees along the way. Project management is about process and at its heart, change management is about people.
20 Change Management Lessons from Working Over 20 years in Change
1. Organizational change management has three key aspects: Sponsorship (who is sponsoring the change? Make sure they are active, visible supporters.), Training (what do I need to know/do differently after the change), Communications (2-way during, before and after the change). You need to consider all of these pieces in a successful change program.
2. Identify a sponsor who has influence. If the sponsor does not have the necessary influence both up and down the chain, but instead is given the responsibility without authority, the change program is doomed from the start.
3. Conference calls can and should be a part of the communication strategy, but you need to go to where the people are too. The impact of looking eye to eye is hard to replace with a conference call. Besides, what do you do on a conference call? Check your phone, email, Candy Crush? Yeah. Most other people on the call are doing that too. Get out from behind your desk already.
4. A feedback box in the break room only works if you respond to people’s concerns. Addressing issues without telling people they’ve been addressed is not very useful.
5. Change management communication is more than just PR. It’s not a one-way deal. You need to create forums where you can listen to people’s concerns and respond. If you don’t have a firm answer, “I hear you” and “I’ll find out” or “I’ll figure it out and get back to you” works wonders.
6. You need to trust your employees. Give them opportunities to get together and talk about the changes even when you’re not in the room facilitating (i.e., controlling the situation). Make time to meet with them afterward and hear about their concerns, ideas and suggestions.
7. Don’t be afraid of implementing recommendations that come from the team to support the change. If your change management efforts consist of a bunch of senior leaders who lock themselves in a room for endless meetings and to solve every problem… it’s time for a change.
8. When your change requires the team to learn new skills, give them multiple ways to acquire the skills. A mix of job aids that can be posted in their workspace, live training events, webinars and online training are likely necessary. Change and learning are not one size fit all.
9. Remove other options. I know that this sounds harsh but if you’re asking people to change the way they live and work, but they can still do the same thing they’ve always done, and it works, do you think they’ll change? No, me neither. This applies to both organizational and personal change.
10. Be a stickler for the process. You may feel like a jerk, but new procedures, systems, processes, ways of working take time to be adopted. Training is not a magic switch; it’s only a single component of the overall change management solution.
Cyborgs Are the Future for Advisors
Becoming cyborgs is the way to go for financial advisers…blending robotics and humans into one organism.
You see, I am convinced that robo-advice models will succeed and prosper.
I am also convinced that human advisers will succeed and prosper.
I am further convinced that some of each will fail entirely and die, but in Darwinian fashion the most adaptable will survive and prosper. Smart financial advisers will work out how to become cyborgs and build an offering which is a blend of human and machine – or at least their practice will.
Despite the fear-mongering when it comes to robo’s the reality is that there are many great arguments for automated transaction systems, or robotic product delivery. Cost reduction for the consumer, cost reduction for the practitioner….efficiency, speed, convenience for all….elimination of the frustrating and time consuming service model supplied by the industry to low value transactional customers….and let’s be bluntly honest: some people DO just need a product solution at some stages of their life, and DO NOT need holistic advice at some points.
Robo-advice makes sense commercially, and it can meet a need in life stages planning for many consumers. It also happens to appeal to a segment of society who are happy to make their own decisions and transact from the comfort of their pyjamas during the ads in their evening television program, and who are unlikely to engage in full advice. It is worth remembering that this last type of consumer segment is growing at the expense of the traditional intermediated product delivery systems of distribution.
However, machines do not “manage” relationships and behaviour – humans manage humans. Humans tend to rebel against the concept (or slightest inference actually) that they are being manipulated or are at the mercy of computers and machines. Machines and automated systems exist for our convenience, don’t they? Nobody wants a “SkyNet”.
……So the human adviser remains in the equation……
When we strip out all the industry jargon and hyperbole the primary function of a financial adviser is to manage clients behaviour. We don’t really manage their money – other people do the actual money management. We don’t supply products….we source them from a supplier. What we do is manage their behaviour and expectations. We coach them. Machines don’t do that yet….and when they are able to (and they will be), most consumers will shy away from being managed by a machine.
But we cannot escape those arguments supporting robo-offerings as they make too much sense for clients and for us. In fact I suspect robo-advice will be a very good thing for smart adviser practices.
Believe it or not, I believe robo-offerings can help us get clients.
For most consumers there is a period early in life when their financial advice needs are fairly basic, and also there is a period later in life where all the planning has been done and consumers are moving into “drawdown” territory. In between those times, life gets somewhat busier and complexity increases substantially.
Advice delivered by humans should be focussed upon the complexity phase. Apart from the fact that this is the period of a consumers life when there are the most variables to consider in their planning needs, it is also the phase where behaviour management is a distinct help to the achievement of the consumers goals and objectives. Generally people will only do uncomfortable or new things if they have a high degree of trust and confidence in the person guiding them to do so, and establishing that level of trust – or the bond between two people – is where robo-offerings will struggle to compete.
However, when it comes to identifying a fairly simple need which has a product solution then robo’s will certainly be able to deliver a solution more cost effectively and faster than the human adviser can, who is bound by increasing complexity of their own called “compliance” every time they have to interact with another human being.
The smart adviser will identify those areas of their clients lives and those product solutions which work well for those times and find a transactional solution for their clients to access. They will build that transactional, no-advice, solution into the service offering that their practice puts into the market. In other words they will embrace and incorporate robo-offerings into their business model.
Not just because consumers want them or need them, and not just because it is cost effective to do so. Not even because we’d like to have a commercial revenue stream which sidesteps the more time-consuming (and therefore labour intensive and expensive) compliance requirements.
The reason smart advisers will do it is because it will help gather the next generation of clients for the firm before the complexity triggers drive them to seek advice elsewhere.
The robo-advice solution caters to those who have an identifiable need for financial services of one sort or another, but who do not yet need holistic bespoke planning. It is an entry point for consumers to become customers of the firm, and for the firm to then work upon converting those transactional customers into advised clients for the future.
Robotics are a part of our world and our future. We need to figure out how to make them a part of our business too, but in such a way that our business uses the robo’s, rather than being used by them. Humans and robo’s integrated into the same service business in order to deliver they type of solutions and assistance that consumers and customers and clients want at different stages of their life.
The future for the financial advisory practice is cyborgs.
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