When implementing change management initiatives there is a physiological dip in performance linked to the requirement to get up to speed with the new status quo. In order to reduce this gap implementing training programs is key.
Let’s pretend that the change management initiative consists in implementing a new software in the payroll department. It is unreasonable to think that the employees that are going to use this software will be up to speed immediately.
There is in fact a learning curve they have to go through in order to learn how to use the new system: in the figure below you can see that at the point of change implementation there is a dip in performance and that with time (that it is required to learn the new skills) the dip disappears up to when the level of performance will be higher than the one before the change management initiative was implemented.
In order to minimise disruption and reap the positive effects of the change initiative the organisation has to implement ad-hoc training programs to support the employees in the transition period.
What does it mean for an organisation?
- Before implementing the system the change team has to identify those that will be impacted by the change initiative (e.g. employees in the payroll administration team in this example) and devise a training program aimed at facilitating the transition to the new system.
- Involve the human resources department and the head of the department affected by the change initiative to identify the best training programs that can be implemented in this instance.
- Communicate to the employees the change initiative and how they will be supported in the process by an ad-hoc training program.
The aim of the training is to reduce the time that it takes for an individual to lear the new skill and to avoid that the dip in performance is going to be too significant.
Training is also a great tool to minimise resistance to change. When the announcement that a new system is going to be implemented is given to the team impacted by the change initiative the reaction is very likely going to be “What’s wrong with the one we have, it works perfectly“, “We don’t need a new system“.
However, if the company shows that proper training will be provided to the employees on how to use the new software and the benefits for the employees themselves the resistance will be minimised. Training in this instance is also a tool to engage the employees and motivate them to embrace the change initiative.
Unfortunately many organisations do not believe that learning and development is a priority when implementing a new change management initiative and consider it just a cost.
This is a mistake as, lack of training is very likely going to lead to protracted resistance to change and to a bigger dip in performance that is going to lag longer than if the company would have implemented proper measures to support the employees.
If your organisation believes that training is a just a cost and that should be reduced to the bare minimum (or even skipped altogether) you are going to lose money: the time that it takes to win over resistance and to get the employees to learn by themselves how to use a new software or how to learn the “new way” is much higher than the cost of implementing an ad-hoc training program.
Not to mention the de-motivation and disengagement that would very likely lead to a protracted lower than planned performance, higher turnover in that team and, potentially, to the failure of the change initiative.
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