The ultimate guide to measuring change

A lot of change practitioners are extremely comfortable with saying that change management is about attitudes, behaviours, and feelings and therefore we cannot measure them. This metaphor that change management is ‘soft’ extends into areas such as leadership and employee engagement whereby it may not be easy to measure and track things. However, is it really that because something is harder to measure and less black and white that there is less merit in measuring these?

 

“If you can’t measure it you can’t improve it” Peter Drucker

 

The ‘why’ behind a lot of industry change in our day and age comes from the fact that data is now dominating our world. Data is a central part of everything that is changing in our world. Since we are now more reliant on the internet for information, the data that can be collected through our digital interactions around our lives are now driving change. Home assistant Alexa from Amazon can recognize our voices and tell us what we want to know. We can be identified through street cameras. Our Google usage leads to better-targeted advertisements and product promotions.   Our Facebook usage leads to a deep understanding of our preferences and lifestyles, and therefore we become targetted by advertisements for what we may find value in (according to Facebook data and algorithms).

So if our world is surrounded by data, why are we not measuring it in managing change? To answer this question let’s look at what we are or are not measuring.

These are some of the common ways in which change is often measured in projects:

1. Change readiness surveys

Change readiness surveys are usually online surveys sent by a project owner to understand how stakeholder groups are feeling about the change at different points in time throughout the project. It can be in the form on a Likert scale or free text. Most results are summarized into a quantitative scale of the degree in which the group is ready for change. A simple SurveyMonkey could be set up to measure stakeholder readiness for change. ChangeTracking (now part of Accenture) is a comprehensive online tool that measures the change journey and readiness of stakeholder groups throughout the initiative.

2. Training evaluation surveys

These evaluations are normally based on participant satisfaction across various categories such as content, instructor effectiveness, usefulness, etc. In a face-to-face training format, these surveys are normally paper-based so as to increase the completion rate. For online or virtual training, ratings may be completed by the user at the conclusion or after the session.

3. Communications metrics

One way in which communications may be measured is the ‘hit rate’ or the number of users/audience that views the article/material/page. This may be easily tracked using Google Analytics that not only tracks number of views per page but also viewership by the time of day/week as well as audience demographic information as such gender and geographical locations.

4. Employee sentiments/culture surveys

There are some organizations that measure employee sentiments or culture over the year and often there are questions that are linked to change. These surveys tend to be short and based on a Likert scale with less open-ended questions for qualitative feedback. Since these surveys are often sent across the entire organization they are a ‘catch-all’ yardstick and may not be specific to particular initiatives.

5. Change heatmaps

Some organizations devise change heatmaps on excel spreadsheets to try and map out the extent to which different business units are impacted by change. This artifact speaks to the amount of change and often leads to discussions concerning the capacity that the business has to ‘handle/digest’ change. The problem with most heatmaps is that they are usually categorized and rated by the creator of the artifact (or a limited number of people making judgments), and therefore subject to bias. Data that is based on 1 person’s opinions also tend not to have as much weight in a decision-making forum.

 

Change benefit tracking

In addition to typical change management measures, there are various initiatives-specific measures that focus on the actual outcome and benefit of the change with the goal of determining to what extent the change has taken place. Some example of this includes:

  • System usage rates
  • Cost reduction
  • Revenue increase
  • Transaction speed
  • Process efficiency
  • Speed of decision making
  • Customer satisfaction rate
  • Employee productivity rate
  • Incidents of process violation

 

 

Non-initiative based change management measures

There are two other measures that are used within an organizational vs. initiative-specific context, change leadership assessment and change maturity assessment. In the next section, we will discuss these two areas.

Change leadership assessment

David Miller from Changefirst wrote about 3 types of change leaders.:

  1. The sponsor whose role is to drive the initiative to success from the beginning to the end. This involves possessing competencies in rallying and motivating people, building a strong network of sponsors and communicating clearly to various stakeholder groups.
  2. The influencer whose role is to leverage their network and influence to market and garner the traction required to make the initiative successful. Four types of influencers as identified by Changefirst includes:
    1. Advocates who are great at promoting and advocating the benefits of the change
    2. Connectors who are able to link and leverage people across a part of the organization to support the change
    3. Controllers who have control over access to information and people and these could include administrators and operations staff
    4. Experts who are viewed by others in the organization as being technically credible
  3. The change agent is someone who is tasked with supporting the overall change in various ways, including any promotional activities, gaging different parts of the organization on the change and be able to influence, up, down and sideways across the organization to drive a successful change outcome.

Whilst there isn’t one industry standard tool for assessing change leadership competencies and capabilities. There are various change leadership assessment tools offered by Changefirst as well as other various smaller consulting firms. One of the most comprehensive change leadership assessment tools is by ChangeTracking is the Change Capacity Assessment which is a self-assessment with the broad categories being Goal Attainment, Flexibility, Decision Making, and Relationship Building.

Some of the key competencies critical in change leadership have been called out by Pagon & Banutal (2008), and include:

  • Goal attainment
  • Assessing organizational culture and climate
  • Change implementation
  • Motivating and influencing others
  • Adaptability
  • Stakeholder management
  • Collaboration
  • Build organizational capacity and capability for change
  • Maneuvering around organizational politics

All rights reserved Salient.