Fountain pen on notebook

Change On A Page

Summer holidays are over, everyone is back at work and you have used your vacation time to create a list of everything you would like to change once your back. Autumn is the perfect time to start creating change programs and roll out your great ideas in the organization.

Have you ever used a “Plan on a Page” as part of a Change Program? If not, I suggest you give it a try. It is a powerful way of documenting the essentials of a change. And as you know from my earlier posts, I am a big believer in making things as simple as possible.

Preparing Your Change Page
I’m assuming there is an important reason why you want to initiate a change. You clearly see the benefits, but do others in your company experience the same need? Probably not. And that’s why change is so hard to achieve: in order to realize your change, you need other people to make it happen. You need to convince them to change their behaviours so you can collectively reach your goal.

If you’ve ever watched Simon Sinek’s famous TED video, you know it is critically important to Start with Why. Sinek’s presentation is about leadership and culture, but you can also use his ‘Golden Circle’  to drive change. People need to buy why you are pursuing a change. When change programs fail, it is usually because the audience feels ambivalent towards the goal or they simply don’t see the need. If you drive the change, you can probably lists dozens of reasons why it is necessary. Don’t. Just pick the one that will resonate with your employees best and write it down. Make it abundantly clear why they should care about this change.

The next step is How – Describe the main activities you must carry out to reach the desired end state. How are you going to achieve the change? How must your employees prepare for it? Which programs will you set up to get there? Don’t forget to also write down what you will not do anymore as a consequence of the change.  The ultimate goal of this step is you program planning, but the Plan on a Page only documents the high level overview.

And finally, write down the What. What is the result or your perceived end state? What happens in your employees’ daily live if they have embedded the change in their daily routines? Will it be the same? Will it improve? Be specific about desired behaviors and what you expect to see. This step is critically important as it defines the outcome as well as the success of your initiative.

Once you have completed these 3 steps, you have created your Change on a Page Plan. The purpose of this is not to start rolling out your change. The next step is to share this Page with others and ask for their feedback – how valid is the plan? Do they understand the case for change and the outcomes? In short, use it to validate what you have in mind. Once you have them on board, you have laid the foundation for your larger Change Program.

Your People Lead the Change

In the first paragraphs I mentioned that it is essential to Start with Why. What is even more important is to Start With Your Audience. When you create your Change on a Page, write it by constantly keeping them in mind. A change in itself means nothing if you don’t have a supportive audience that is willing to help you achieve the change; you must sell it to them and convince them it is in their best interest to help you.  Not an easy thing to do. Here are a four points to keep you on track:

  1. Tell the truth – I always find it best to be open about the goal. If you want to save money, say that on your Change on a Page. It doesn’t matter if you want to change the culture or the way you work together as long as you are clear on the outcomes. If you try to hide the truth, employees have a knack to ferret that out right away. Suppose you are introducing HR Direct Access (formerly known as self service) so your HR professionals can spend their time on talent – be clear about that. Employees may not like it, but once they see more talent activities popping up, they will understand. If you’re doing it as a cost-cutting measure be open about that as well – you might be surprised how many good ideas you receive once employees understand what you’re after.
  2. Make it specific to your company – just because others are doing something, doesn’t mean you have to do it too. In HR, ‘best practices’ are often used as base for change. But ‘best practices’ are not meant to blindly apply – there might be very good reasons why you want to make a performance process very personal. Remember those difficult questions everyone used in hiring conversations? Without Google, we wouldn’t have known that they are useless in predicting the success of a candidate, but at the time, many companies thought they were critical to predict suitability.
  3. Make it simple – you lead the change and you have been exposed to the topic for weeks. You’ve gathered information, ran analytics and received valuable insights, you know the ins and outs. You are way ahead of the rest. Once you start communicating, others hear it for the first time. And since you are probably not talking to the whole company at once, they will need to pass on the message. You will only succeed if the message is short, simple and compelling enough so people understand it and can explain it to the next level.
  4. Keep it short – Employees receive dozens, sometimes hundreds of emails per day. The Change on a Page guarantees that your message fits in one screen or one slide. Not only will this force you to focus on the essentials but your staff will actually read it because they don’t have to click through several pages.

One final remark: a Plan on a Page is not intended to replace project methodology and planning. You will need to do later on. But it’s a very good way to make the goal of and reason for the change clear and share it with other and it avoids that you spend your valuable time on a change that is not going to happen.