Employee Engagement, and Change Management - Part I

BY KAMAL SHARMA - 2017-03-03

All the various initiatives described above require a “change”. The employees are the centre of any desired change. Hence ensuring that the employee is engaged in the whole process and the change managed is of utmost importance. Otherwise this change can get “killed” without much notice and we quickly return to our old ways. As we discussed in the chapter on paradigms, we all resist change. Hence it is very important to understand the forces that drive change. Human behavior in organizations is driven by powerful yet relentless forces that are not easy to understand but cannot be ignored.

Top management involvement

Any initiative on operations excellence requires a top management involvement. The requirement of  a senior leader who has the formal authority to deploy resources (eg. time, money and people) for the drive and also one who will be ultimately responsible for the success of the transformation cannot be understated.

The employee is the centre

Also we cannot forget that the employee is the centre of all these initiatives. Eventually all the new thinking and tools that we use have to be used by the employees to eventually get us better results. So it is equally important to understand what will drive the employees towards the change that is desired.

1. Create appropriate conditions for change

Necessary components for change

In this section let us concentrate on some components required for change.

  1. Goals: Goals must provide a clear picture of what the future looks like. In a sense the goal must excite people to be part of the future set up. However if goals are not clear it leads to confusion and loss of energy for the drive.
  2. Skills: Necessary skills must be provided otherwise the proposed change is feared by the employees.
  3. Action plan: the action plan and the planning process are both important. Generally it is important to target areas that can give quick wins that can act as models for the rest.
  4. Resources: Generally Kaizen initiatives require low resources in terms of Money. But people need to be allowed to spend time to work on the problem on hand. If this is not done it leads to frustration and again progress is stopped.
  5. Motivation: unless the employee is motivated towards the change very little will happen. Understand­ing the factors that promote motivation in our situation and then working on them to ensure that the necessary commitment is achieved is a significant step for the change.

Unless the various conditions are conducive it is difficult for change to take root. Clear goals, the impartation of necessary skills to work force, clearly laid out and visualized action plans, resources required to achieve the goals through the action plans and the inherent motivation in the employees are together necessary if optimal conditions for change are to be fostered.

Basic dominant features of motivation

The success of any business depends largely on the motivation of the employees. Human resources are es­sential to the prosperity, productivity and performance of any company. Motivation is the key to create an environment where optimal performance is possible. So how do you ensure that individual motivation is at its peak within your workplace?

Every person has their own set of motivations and personal incentives to work hard or not as the case may be. Some are motivated by recognition whilst others are motivated by cash incentives.

Motivation is deeply dependent on the relationship we have with the task at hand. For example a company paid marketing trip where the lodging was “average” may find us highly de-motivated. Whereas a trip under even more difficult lodging conditions for some social cause that appeals to us may find us quite comfortable and motivated.

Whatever the motivation, it needs to be understood and then promoted. In the modern workplace human re­sources are valued above all others. Motivated employees are productive, happy and committed. The spinoff of this includes reduced employee turnover, result driven employees, company loyalty, and work place harmony. 

2. Implant positive behavior

The next thing we want to study in respect of change management is culture change.

Culture is simply behavior that a group of people expect, support and value. Hence really speaking there is no change unless there is behavioral change.

New processes and systems and the plethora of communication and training (although important) on their own do not have the power to create sustainable new behaviors. There may be a peak of excitement and adoption at the beginning but we eventually find that people continue to behave as before and the initiative eventually fades.

This happens because we assume that relevant behaviors will result as an outcome of the new systems and process we create. This thinking is completely contrary to behavioral science. The new behavior that we desire must be present up front to sustain the new processes and systems and not the other way round.

In any organization there are numerous centers (mostly individuals) of influences and generally their behavior patterns determines the behavior patterns of the majority and eventually lead to the prevailing culture. This is the way behavior spreads from multiple centers. It is an organic model and not a mechanistic one. A current example is the use of social networking in the internet

By changing the work areas and processes with the involvement of these centers of influences can create new behavior very rapidly within an organization. Hence, a new favorable culture results.

The Process of Change-Gemba Kaizen Activities

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