Monthly Archives: June 2010

Training Analysis Checklist

Individual and Team performance can be elusive.

Just when you have achieved a level of performance that you want, the environment changes, resources are taken away or members of the team are replaced.

It is a combination of knowledge, skills and attitude that creates individual and team behaviour.  Improving performance therefore requires us to change that behaviour

Training is a excellent way to re-establish a high level of performance, but it needs to be training focused at achieving specific individual and business needs.

Performance then, is where knowledge, skills and attitude align to the business needs.  So any training plan needs to be focused on ensuring that an individual’s knowledge and skills are developed to align to that business need and people motivated to having a supportive attitude.

To establish the necessary training for the individual and teams a level of Training Needs Analysis is needed.  This ensures the maximum level of training is achieved for minimum financial outlay.

Here is a checklist that will help you consider the training needs of your team and help you construct a training programme that will help you re-establish the performance levels you need to have your team thrive.

1. The Training Need:

  • Who needs it?
  • What is the business area that the training will support?
  • Is the skill or knowledge lacking on the team or just in this individual?

2. The Audience:

  • Who is the audience for the training?
  • What is their knowledge of the topic?
  • What are their duties?
  • What are they expecting?
  • Are there any motivational problems to be expected?
  • What is the cultural behaviour for the target group?

3. Course Content:

  • Are there any regulatory parts to teach?
  • Is there a CIPD or other professional body to consider?
  • What are the possible resources?
  • Are there policies and procedures to teach?
  • Are case studies of value?

4. Delivery:

  • Will it be an internal course?
  • Who will teach?
  • Will you outsource?

5. Timing:

  • When is the training opportunity?
  • Start Dates?
  • Length of course?
  • Frequency of the training?
  • Venue?

6. Business Needs:

  • What is the business need?
  • What is the business strategic aim?
  • What are the organizational future plans?
  • How much training is enough?

7. Anticipated Problems:

  • Budgetary limits
  • Availability of the learning team
  • What resources do you need?

While this is not a formally structured Training Needs Analysis profile, it provides a useful list of considerations that will help you understand your training needs and so allow your to decide on where to spend training effort to achieve a higher level of performance.

Dare to Aspire

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Pilot Change Project Checklist

If you have a large organisation or wish to undertake a number of change projects it is prudent to consider running a pilot change project. A short change event that is aligned to the larger strategic goal but small enough to be an initial excursion into the overall change programme without being fully committed.

This will allow you to:

  • Gather feedback on how change will be accepted within the organisation
  • Assess if the culture will accept and integrate the change
  • Establish credibility with a ‘quick win’
  • Ensure that there is appetite for further change.

When running a pilot change project, it is useful to have a simple but robust plan of what you are going to do, who will do it and how you will sell it to the significant stakeholders.

Here is a checklist of things that you may want to consider.

  1. What is the right mix of people for the change team – What knowledge and skill will you require and who has the sort of tenacious attitude to carry the project to a fast and successful completion.
  2. Who has the credibility, the knowledge and the drive to lead the project? Is this someone in your own organisation or is a consultant a better choice. A member of your team will know the processes, procedures and people within the team which could be an advantage but exposes them if the event fails. A consultant has a fresh view, will have the skills to implement the change and can be the scape goat who takes the blame if things go wrong of the culture resists the change.
  3. What is the aim of the project? What does ‘a good job look like’? Have a clear idea of the success criteria and ensure it is communicated to the team so there is a shared understanding of the outcomes.
  4. What are the achievable stretch goals? Is there more that can be delivered than just the basic project?
  5. What are the achievable deadlines? Is it better to have a successful project delivered a little late or to have a project delivered on time but without the ‘bells and whistles’.
  6. What project methodology will you use? Is an agile approach like DSDM useful or do you need to use something with more governance such as Prince 2?
  7. When you run into uncertainty, what framework will you use to guide team decision making and problem solving? Do you want to formalise the approach to provide rigour and an audit trail or is flexibility more important?
  8. What resources are necessary for success? Allocation of resources is critical both for delivery of the outcomes you desire and to demonstrate that senior management are committed to the change event.
  9. How will you hold people accountable? With accountability comes a degree of commitment and a mechanism to allocate both blame and rewards for performance.
  10. How will you reward success? Team or individually? Based on effort or outcomes? As a result of success alone or of benefit for the organisation as even a failed change programme can be beneficial? Understanding what motivates your team, and the rewards that create that motivation will help you achieve the best from your team.

With this short checklist you can begin to plan the change event. There are, however, a number of things to consider.

Beware planning in too much detail as things will often change and planning too early means you ‘plan twice’. Detailed planning can also become reassuring even if there is no progress but it will not move your towards our outcomes. Activity isn’t progress.

Beware predictable surprises which you can identify with a little forethought.

Changes will often generate second order problems (problems that you hadn’t initially identified but arise because of the influence the change has over the system). Be prepared to deal with these and ensure you have a level of contingency because such problems use up your time, effort and resources.

It is tempting to believe that you are so familiar with your organisation that research isn’t required but this isn’t always the case. Indeed, it is rarely the case and you should understand where you have limited knowledge.

Your change initiative may cross organisational boundaries.You will need a way to access different knowledge silos within those organisational stovepipes.

Finally, the culture of the organisation has developed over years and will be deeply rooted. The change will need to overcome this cultural resistance and offer the same reassurance that the old state did.

To gain best value and quick wins, you may want to consider change as guerrilla warfare. You will need to carefully select your key points of leverage and get maximum value for minimum effort.

Dare to Aspire

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Book Summary: 59 Seconds – Think a Little, Change a Lot

0:59 Seconds – Think a Little, Change a Lot

By Professor Richard Wiseman

This is an easy and enjoyable book to read – the kind that you can dip in and out of, picking up interesting tips along the way.

The chapter list gives a good indication of the subjects covered in the book:

  1. Happiness
  2. Persuasion
  3. Motivation
  4. Creativity
  5. Attraction
  6. Stress
  7. Relationships
  8. Decision Making
  9. Parenting Personality

Wiseman discusses these typically of ‘Self Help’ topics and the investigate the research that has been suggested as supporting the claims, using his own and other’s research to outline the flaws in some of the theories. He also offers a number of concrete suggestions for how you can quickly implement his findings in 59 seconds (although practically a little longer in some cases).

The book is based on the premise that quick techniques can sometimes be surprisingly effective at helping us to change and explains which ones work and which don’t.

For example:

  • A simple five day writing exercise that can lift your mood for several weeks (essentially a more structured gratitude diary)
  • Spending money on experiences is a far more effective way to make yourself happy than spending it on things
  • Punching a pillow to relieve anger (Gestalt Therapy) actually increases your anger, while sitting quietly and thinking about how you benefited from the experience has the opposite effect
  • Conversational techniques that can build instant rapport on a first date typically include topics that create intimacy or increase the heart rate.
  • Exercises to stimulate the unconscious mind that lead to better decision making

By way of conclusion, Wiseman offers a few pearls of research wisdom from his investigation:

  • Develop an attitude of gratitude as grateful people are more optimistic and benefit from better physical health as a result.
  • Place a picture of a baby in your wallet as it triggers a deep seated caring mechanism that increases the likelihood that the wallet will be returned.
  • Hang a mirror in your kitchen as seeing your form as you open the fridge will encourage you to eat more healthily.
  • Buy a pot plant for the office as it can help boost the number of creative ideas that you have.
  • Touch people lightly on the upper arm as it makes them far more likely to agree with your and increases their perception of your level of authority.
  • Write something positive about your relationship for a few moments each week as it will boost your chances of staying together.
  • Deal with potential liars by closing your eyes and by asking for email as visual cues tend to be unreliable and people are reluctant to put untruths in any kind of enduing form such as email.
  • Praise children’s effort over ability as it encourages then to try regardless of outcome of consequences.
  • Visualize yourself doing, not achieving as it is a form of rehearsal not a form of dreaming.
  • Consider your legacy and you will see how others will see you, does it look the way you want it too?

A well written book with research to back up some fairly simple conclusions. Well worth the read.

Dare to Aspire

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Best Practises in Change Management

Change management is possibly one of the most difficult tasks that a manager or management team can attempt.  More often than not, these managers will bring external consultants in to support the change process.  But having an awareness of the common approaches and “Best Practices” can help you understand the scope and magnitude of a change project and give you options to consider when planning your change.

Here are some elements of ‘Best Practise’ I have encountered:

  • Recognise the need to change and ensure that you articulate that need in a compelling way, demonstrating that not changing would be catastrophic.
  • Start with and maintain senior management and executive level support, to demonstrate that the change initiative is a company wide commitment and a strategic level project, garnering the full support of the companies resources.
  • Understand the organisation’s ‘readiness to change’ as change can be emotionally disturbing to both the staff and the shareholders.
  • Communicate effectively to create buy-in. Then communicate some more.  Use all of the communications channels that you have access to.  You must create an level of understanding, involvement and commitment from your personnel.
  • Instil a feeling  of ‘readiness and commitment’ to sustained change and help people see this as a process that will allow the organisation to adapt to future environmental conditions.
  • Create change teams that demonstrate the characteristics of the new organisation, generate some high profile quick wins and so demonstrate the benefit of the change.   This will communicate the benefits of the change more dramatically than any speech and will create a level of momentum for the change process.
  • Use a structured framework.  A change framework will give you structure around which to create the change and give you a mechanism to justify your actions to the budget controllers and senior managers
  • Consultants do have a part to play as you can use them to supplement your team and so your organisation can continue to be productive during the change process.  Aim to use consultants effectively, having them do what you want them to do.  Avoid employing a large consultancy and have them ‘doing’ change to you according to a boilerplate solution that neither discriminates you from other organisations nor exploits your unique characteristics for best effect.
  • Pay attention to what has worked before in other environments, not to copy them wholesale, but to identify what might be beneficial and so you can exploit what you learn piecemeal.  This will need to be within the context of a ‘systems’ approach as you will be influencing other parts of the organisation with any change you make.  Consider the impact as part of the planning discussion.
  • Ensure your changes link to your corporate strategy as your strategy will define how you will apply your resources and people to create value in the current future economic environment.  Your processes will need to align to this strategy and be as efficient as possible.
  • Listen to the ‘voice of the customer’ as they are the people that should benefit most from the changes you are implementing.  Ask the question, is this adding value for the customer and aligned to our mission.  South Western Airlines aim to be the cheapest low cost airline and so their Value to the customer is in being cheap.  They change nothing that doesn’t ensure that they remain lowest cost budget airline.  Simple.
  • Select the right processes for reengineering as not everything will add value to your vision, mission and customer.  Use the 80/20 rule to identify the processes that will add most value when changes
  • Maintain Focus on what you are trying to achieve. A man with 10 priorities has no priorities. Don’t try to reengineer too many processes at once.  Pick those processes that will add most value, be easiest to change and so garner the momentum we discussed earlier.
  • Maintain teams as the key vehicle for change as they are mutually supportive, innovative and provide a level of ‘corporate memory’ even if members of the team move or leave.
  • Choose and use the right metrics for measuring the performance of both the current process and to assess the future process and so quantify the benefit of any change.  Again this benefit will then become tangible and so communicate value for you.
  • Understand risks and develop contingency plans ad nothing you plan will follow the plan from start to finish.  Understanding the risks and reviewing them frequently will help you keep an eye on the issues that will have a negative impact and so prepare for them.
  • Have plans for, and communicate a need for an attitude of continuous improvement.  The environment is constantly changing and you and your organisation will need to flexible enough to adapt to those changes.

These points are not exhaustive but are presented a considerations for anyone thinking of implementing a change event.
As a general guidance for any planning, what you are aiming for is:

An organisation that has a strategy that is making best use of resources in the current and short term future environment, employing efficient processes that exploit the talents and strengths of you team and add most value to the customer and shareholder.

Easy to say…not so easy to do…

Dare to Aspire

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New Book Summary: Focus

Braincram has a new summary of the Jurgen Wolff book on Focus.

You can find it here.

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6 Tips for Change That Sticks

The pace of change in the business domain is frantic. Look around and you will quickly see changes  in the Political arena, in Economic and Sociological dynamics, in Technological innovation and increasingly the Environment.  the combined impact from these changes can be dramatic for any organisation.

As Leaders and Managers, we adapt to these changes by attempting to predict the long term business landscape and then adapting our strategy and operations to be more effective under those conditions.

We then attempt a change process that aim to adapt the organisation into a structure and with processes that are more likely to produce target outcomes given these predicted conditions.

Unfortunately, even if we manage to achieve the planned changes, we often find that there can be insufficient ‘stickiness’ for those changes to endure and there can be a general slip back to the way things were.

Here are 6 tips to maximise the chances that your change programmes will endure:

1. Link your changes to a vision that reflects the purpose of the organisation:

  • Why does the organisation exist (other than to make money for the shareholders)?
  • How does this change achieve that purpose?

Answer these questions and make sure they are well understood throughout the organisation.  Make the reason for change as compelling and memorable as a jingle from a commercial.

2. Have everyone play a role in the decisions for the change:

  • Involvement generates a degree of commitment to the change process.
  • Involvement in the change process means that individuals will feel the loss if it fails and so are more motivated to ensure it works.
  • Involvement in a successful project lets the team say ‘look what we have done’ with a feeling of pride and commitment to the future of the organisation.

3. Recognise that change can be frightening for some people:

  • Some personality types change in an instant and are happy to work in the new structure at a moments notice.
  • Change can, however, be unsettling and some personality types don’t react well to any kind of change.  Ensure that you help them through the change process and bring them along.  The new state will soon be accepted as the norm and these people will thrive again.

4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate:

  • Use every communication channel open to you and ensure that the message resonates at all levels and from all of the key people.  There must be a single message about, what, when, how, who and WHY!
  • If the team don’t have questions, then they don’t yet understand the level of impact the change process is likely to have, so ask them questions and get them thinking about the change, after all involvement creates commitment!

5. Positive reinforcement generates momentum:

  • If you see someone acting in a way that supports the new order of things, take the opportunity to give them positive feedback.
  • If you see someone acting in the old ways, then coach them into the new patterns and then praise them when they are supporting the new order of things.
  • Positive feedback reinforces change, any change.

6. Have descriptive and clear measures of performance:

  • Feedback is the breakfast of champions!
  • Clear feedback that shows how the new structure and process is adding more value than before increases the chance that the change will stick.
  • If people associate the change to a positive outcome on a company level (eg. profit) and a positive outcome on a personal level (eg. I keep my job!) it is more likely to stick.

These tips will not guarantee that your change process will yield an enduring new strategy or supportive structures and processes, but they will support the change effort in very compelling way, stacking the odds in your favour.

Dare to Aspire

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