Purposeful change (part two)

A lot of research is done by organizations. For example, employee engagement or customer satisfaction. Employees often experience that too little is done with the results of such research. This is partly because the way of researching (asking questions) often makes it insufficiently clear:

  • what the status or progress is of a (change) plan or strategy
  • what should be done now.

Moreover, you want to know what possible frictions could hinder success! That’s why you want to know in particular:

  • what the status is of the priorities (maturity levels);
  • whether the number of priorities is too much, too little, or just right;
  • what the improvement levels are on each priority;
  • what the agreement is for them is among the people involved;
  • whether there is sufficient capacity to deal with the priorities.

Good research questions are therefore verifiable, factual and they contain maturity levels. Also, respondents can indicate what they want to achieve with each of the priorities (see part 1 of this blog). For example:

To what extent are your role, tasks and repsonsibilities clear?NowIn 3 months
Not or hardlyO
Discussed with my manager, not documentedO
Discussed with my manager, and documentedOO

A simplified example: management wants one or more teams to be more responsive. For that purpose, six priorities have been identified: three for each individual and three for each team. These priorities are presented in six different questions, with 3-5 options per question that differ in maturity:

To what extent are your objectives taken into account in your work?
To what extent is known which skills and talents you want to develop?
How do you deal with deadlines?

To what extent does the team have objectives?
Is there a clear division of roles, responsibilities and tasks?
Does the team celebrate successes?

Now suppose you want to realize the change plan in six months. Planning six priorities, like in this example, is of course relatively easy. But normally there are many more priorities, sometimes 20-30, which can also differ per team, department or country. But since not all priorities can be achieved at once, a choice has to be made. That is why we question everyone involved. Everybody? Certainly! Everyone is included in responsive organizations, and that yields a lot. A typical question in that context would then be, for example:

To what extent does your team work with objectives?NowIn 3 months
Not or they are not clearOO
Team objectives have been shared with the teamO
There are team objectives, and it has been assessed how my role contributes O

According to the respondent in this example, there are team goals and they are shared. He wants it to be clear in three months how his role contributes to the team goals – the highest maturity level in this example. This clearly has priority for this respondent.

Now everyone can indicate what they consider priorities and how much they should be improved. This leads to insights, such as:

  • how do individual employees prioritize?
  • to what extent is there support (among teams, teams with their managers)?
  • do teams take on too many priorities, or just enough?
  • where do we find “waste” – employees wanting to improve priorities more than necessary – or “shortage” – employees wanting to improve on certain priorities less than desirable?

And these insights arise at all levels: individual, teams, departments, organization. This also allows you to include everyone in the changes you want to initiate with your organization!

Sharing knowledge and working more focused
You now also know who has already reached a desired maturity level on a priority – because we ask for verifiable and factual behavior. Now you can stimulate people to share knowledge. Helping each other means not reinventing the wheel. This saves costs. But not only that: it has turned out that the approximately fifteen minutes that an employee spends on such a questionnaire frees up one to two weeks, because the work will be more focused!

How to lead and on what
By obtaining this information, management knows how and on what to lead. For example, in the event that a team agrees among themselves on the priorities but does not have sufficient support for the priorities of management, a different action is needed than if the team does agree with management. In the first case, there is a need for alignment. Maybe there is a conflict management doesn’t know about yet? In the latter case, everybody is clearly on the same songsheet, so let’s get going!

Of course you want real-time insight in the results, and you don’t want to wait months for these results to come in. Moreover, you don’t want (to wait for) extensive calculations to find out all these insights. Your organization will not be responsive! Here the algorithms of Artificial Intelligence platforms help, at all levels:

  • employees get a better grip on their priorities;
  • managers will have a better understanding which people come into their own or not. And what can be done about it;
  • the divisional director gains more accurate insight into why certain teams are on schedule or not and what intervention would be helpful.

In the example, the priorities for the next three months could be as follows:

  1. Everyone’s personal goals are discussed and documented (highest maturity level 3).
  2. Development of skills and talents of everyone are discussed with management (maturity level 2).
  3. Team objectives: clear and documented and for everyone it’s clear how their role contributes to the team objectives (maturity level 3).

Three of the six priorities have now been chosen. The dashboard confirms that there is support and that the amount of priorities is feasible with sufficient capacity within the team:

If more time is freed up through better focus, cooperation and knowledge sharing, then nothing stands in the way of accelerating the change program. It’s not surprising that responsive organizations often set the pace of change and innovations in their sector!

On Thursday, February 11, Moving As One is organizing the free webinar “Know How To Change Purposefully”. Participants learn how they can engage their teams or organization in change processes more effectively through better and faster surveys, with the help of Artificial Intelligence. Includes a live demo. More information can be found here.