As long as we allow Change to be perceived as a soft pseudo-science instead of the methodical process it is, we’ll be forced to hear the same old song on repeat: “You can’t really measure change”, “It all depends on your definition of success and my all-time lazy favourite: “It’s just too complex to measure accurately”.
Fortunately, we’ve got organisations like The Change Compass, Prosci and WalkMe supplying the enterprise software solutions that you might like or hate to use when managing change, that is, if your leader has even asked you to gather some performance and engagement data beyond the annual employee satisfaction survey.
But what about us practitioners? How will we get a representative appraisal of our performance? Easy enough; If you’re an employee, your annual performance review is when you’ll hear how well you’re doing. If you’re a contractor; return business, a send-off morning tea and getting that invoice paid are the indicators. And if it didn’t go to well, we simply polish and reword our LinkedIn profiles a bit and no one’s the wiser. Simple enough, on to the next job!
It all seems a bit unbalanced to me. We spend months (if not years) with organisations, changing people’s (working) lives through projects and programs, impacting their jobs in various ways at different points in time and hardly ever do they get to tell us what they think of our work. The really good ones amongst us actually do pulse checks at regular intervals, even if just to get a sense of what’s happening for the people in our care. But most of us don’t, for various reasons.
First of all, feedback is scary. What if the change doesn’t go well, people will trash you as the personification of the change and there goes your next job opportunity!
Second, who has time for all that engagement? After all, we’re often lone operators tasked with the massive job of making it all happen. You would ask for 360 feedback, if only there was time!
Third, no-one loves surveys and the response rates are low, often filled out by the disgruntled only.
Fourth and final, the change is complex and people will struggle to ‘see the bigger picture’. I’ll leave the ‘it’s not a popularity contest’ argument for now, only people who can’t win say that and I’d like to think they are a minority in our community.
So, let me get this straight; Because we’re somewhat professionally insecure, overloaded, distrustful and think people are stupid, there’s no point in getting their approval rating? Ahem, Goddess-complex much? Okay, enough poking the bear, I am sure some of you will be horrified by the idea of getting a staff-driven rating, but most others are probably curious what that would look like.
A lot of companies are still keen to talk about the “Change Journey” (blegh!) that we’re all on together. Okay, so if we’re on a journey, we should have a TripAdvisor-like rating app, because that’s what we do nowadays. We trust the opinion of random strangers on the internet who we never met, to tell us if a hotel/city/resort/restaurant is worth the many dollars we’re about to spend. And it generally works out just fine.
What if we would have an app, like TripAdvisor, that everyone with us on the Change Journey can use to put up a review whenever they have a good, bad or average experience with us? At any point in time we’ll be able to see how things are going for and with us as change leaders. Full transparency and instant feedback, what’s not to like? No more relying on informal opinion makers, office popularity contests, anecdotal lunchroom and water-cooler evidence or wordy justifications of a beleaguered change manager who is worried about losing her contract if it appears things are not all that peachy.
That just leaves 2 questions: What do we want to be rated on and what should be its name? For the rating categories things like empathy, honesty, responsiveness, knowledge, flexibility, delivery, curiosity and grit come to mind. For the name, perhaps C-rate, TruDat, C-Voice, Changest or Changesy? Feel free to come up with something less terrible…
I’d love to see your best (and worst) suggestions in the comments, maybe something like this already exists, then please share the case study/example.