It’s A Journey; Lead Your People Along With It

By Rachel West May 31, 2012

People don’t change merely because it makes good business sense; but they will certainly change when it impacts their work and their lives. Too often, the “people” aspects of organizational changes are merely an afterthought, and left to HR to sort out the myriad of new roles and responsibilities. In reality, managing people in times of transformational change is far more important than introducing new tools and processes that are promised to deliver the efficiency gain and competitive advantage.

One of the most rewarding experiences a strategy consultant can have is to see some of his/her recommendations implemented. Better yet, is to see the signs of cultural changes taking hold in a matter of months and not years.   Recently, a client praised our consulting team for the strategic framework we put in place as well as the successful execution of the critical first steps for a multi-year IT Transformation roadmap.  I couldn’t help but thank a few of his CIO peers in the industry who, a few years ago, saw the momentum fizzle before they were able to make any concrete impact in similar overarching transformation efforts.  With the client’s foresight and those lessons learned from other financial institutions, we pressed on the single most important first step; that is to educate the people and lead them through the change.


Don't Stop Believin' - Image: Journey Continues, 2001

Simply put, transformation leaders must NOT ask for help from their people without explaining to them “what it is” and “what it isn’t”. To gain support and make individuals accountable for the success of the transformation, they need to answer the questions on the “why”, “where”, and “who” when they start pushing top-down initiatives onto those will be impacted.

Here are some rules of thumb to focus on when leading people through the cultural change:

  • Implement a consistent training program on framework and tactics
  • Develop a general awareness campaign for the new processes and tools
  • Communicate often; respond quickly to feedback of every impacted group
  • Start small, and embed changes in daily activities and routine
  • Identify passionate change agents to lead the community of best practices
  • Celebrate progress and key milestones

Leaders celebrate progress, so that people get excited about what they’ve accomplished.  It builds a sense of ownership with employees, which is invaluable and empowers them to continue embracing changes as they become part of the process to make IT better.

For our delighted client, it didn’t take much convincing. After all, it is about “People, Process and Technology”, we just need to put people at the forefront of every change.

About Rachel West

As a Platinum Player Award winner and industry solution leader at EMC Consulting, Global Services, Rachel West specializes in technology strategy and implementation, product and service innovation and information management for financial services clients.
With more than 20 years of experience in the financial industry as an analyst, advisor and strategist, Ms. West offers deep knowledge and insights into the value of an organization’s information assets, and works closely with many leading global financial institutions to leverage their technology investment to better manage information, and empower them to deliver unique products and services that drive business profitability and growth.
Before joining EMC, Ms. West worked at Putnam Investments, spearheading the process reengineering and user workflow design in conjunction with the transformation of enterprise information architecture that was one of the first in the financial industry.
A graduate of the University of Massachusetts’ MBA program, Ms. West also has a degree in economics and finance from the top ranked International Business School at University of Nanjing, China.

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