Change management is the process of ensuring that new interventions such as training practices are accepted and used by employees and managers. Four issues need to be addressed to facilitate the change management process shown in Table 13.4. These issues include overcoming resistance to change, managing the transition to the new practice, shaping political dynamics, and using training to make change stick.
Overcoming Resistance to Change
Resistance to change can be overcome by involving the affected people in planning the change and rewarding them for desired behavior. It is also critical for managers to divide the implementation of the new practice into steps that are understandable and that employees believe they can accomplish. Employees need to understand how new training practices help them meet their needs. These needs may include better-quality training, faster access to descriptions of training programs, a link between training and compensation, and more meaningful training or access to training programs from their personal computers.
For example, 20 different departments within the Pepsi Bottling Group’s shared services division had been accustomed to operating independently. They performed the same functions at different Pepsi Groups, but they each had their own practices and procedures for getting work done. A small team of employees tried to create one set of shared practices and procedures, but the departments did not accept them. The next step to persuade the departments to accept the change was to involve as many employees as possible. This larger group of employees came up with a common set of procedures and documented them online. Similarly, Detroit Edison used involvement of as many employees as possible to help determine ways to cut costs. One-third of the entire organization participated in the process. The changes were accepted by employees, and Detroit Edison saved millions of dollars.
Managing the Transition
Tactics for managing the transition include communicating a clear picture of the future and creating organizational arrangements for the transition (e.g., contact person, help line). It might be good to allow an old practice and a new practice to exist simultaneously (run parallel) so that employees can see the benefits and advantages of the new practice. Then, any problems that are identified can be worked out. This parallel process is commonly done when new technology is introduced in companies.
Shaping Political Dynamics
Managers need to seek the support of key power groups including formal and informal leaders. For example, successful diversity efforts are characterized by active involvement and endorsement by top managers. Not only do top managers talk about the need to manage diversity, but they also get actively involved through mentoring programs, setting up formal committees and positions to promote diversity, and rewarding managers for their diversity efforts.
Managers of support functions such as human resources that are not directly involved in the design, manufacturing, or delivery of a product or service to the marketplace can shape political dynamics by becoming business partners. The steps to becoming a business partner relate to the discussion of Strategic Training. First, the trainer identifies and understands the business problems that the manager is facing. Second, the trainer explains to the manager how training can help solve the problem. Third, the trainer works with the manager to develop the best training solution that meets the manager’s needs. The manager should be treated as a customer. Finally, the trainer measures how training has helped overcome or solve the business problem.
Table 13.6 shows several misconceptions that some managers hold about training. These misconceptions are likely due to a lack of understanding of the function and value of the training department. To counter these misconceptions and gain political alliances with managers in the business functions, trainers need to take several actions. Trainers need to ensure that the training department adds value to the business, builds relationships with functional business managers, and establishes credibility in the company. This reassurance is accomplished through helping functional managers deal with training-related problems, evaluating the effectiveness of training practices, and providing excellent service to the functional managers (e.g., providing information and finishing projects in a timely manner, committing only to projects that can be realistically delivered).
Using Training to Make Change Stick
Because many practices involve changes not only in the way the service or process is going to be provided, but also in employees’ and managers’ roles, training is critical. Managers and employees need to be trained to deal with new systems whether they involve job redesign (e.g., teams), performance management (e.g., use of 360-degree feedback systems), selection systems (e.g., a structured interview), or new technology (e.g., a new computer-based manufacturing system).
For example, these principles helped with the introduction of a computerized flexible manufacturing system at a manufacturer of diesel engines. The computers were to be used to provide instructions for customized orders and to give the order center updates on production status. The production workers were reluctant to use the computers. Their objections included that they did not know how to type and that their jobs made their hands too greasy. To ensure that the production workers would use the new system, the company took several steps. First, an electronic performance support system was placed in the cafeteria to answer employees’ questions about the system. Second, the company asked workers for suggestions as they tested prototypes of the system. Third, the touch screen system was modified so that employees could use foot controls, thus alleviating concerns about greasy hands when typing. Twenty months after the process for introducing the new manufacturing system began, the system was in place.
Training plays an important role in ensuring that changes that result from a merger or acquisition are successful. Consider the role of training at PNC Financial Services Group and Wachovia Bank, two companies that have needed to successfully manage change in order to grow through mergers and acquisitions. In 2007, PNC Financial announced its acquisition of Sterling Financial Corporation. Just over one year later, Sterling’s offices reopened as PNC retail locations. To facilitate the successful acquisition and integration, current PNC employees were sent to Sterling’s work locations to serve as mentors for new employees and to help them learn PNC’s systems, policies, and procedures. Each of Sterling’s more than 1,000 employees received training from PNC. The training included a mix of classroom, online, and on-the-job experiences. At Wachovia Bank, which has completed more than 100 mergers in less than 20 years, an enterprise merger training team is formed soon after a merger is announced. The team uses the ADDIE model (analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation) to analyze the other bank and determine what training is needed. Much of the training focuses on the acquired company’s culture. Wachovia designs training to embrace the company’s culture and help employees understand and accept the new Wachovia culture. Typically, on the first day of training, the first several hours focus on culture and change and the values of Wachovia. Each newly merged employee is given a booklet that includes an overview of Wachovia’s products, how its organizational structure works, its diversity mission, its focus on volunteerism, and its core values. Trainers are prepared to answer questions on a wide range of human resource issues, from number of vacation days to type of health benefits. At Wachovia, training doesn’t necessarily lead change management but it supports it. At the end of every merger, a “training cookbook” is created which documents all of the processes, roles, and responsibilities needed to help make the merger successful from a training perspective.