Effective Solutions Through Partnership

Category Archives: Organizational Change Management (OCM)

4 Ways to Adapt to VUCA

ADKAR, Best Practices, Communications, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Prosci, VUCA

By Debbie Blagsvedt

I recently attended an Association of Talent Management Development (ATD) seminar on Change Management Strategies, as well as a Training Magazine Network webinar called “Leading with Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in the New Workplace.” In both of these seminars, VUCA was mentioned.

VUCA—an acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity—seems to accurately define the world in which we currently live and work. Working in a VUCA environment, combined with the need to quickly and efficiently adapt to rapid-fire change, is forever a part of today’s organizational culture.

A friend of mine—who has recently taken up running half marathons as a hobby—shared with me how Usain Bolt, the world-renowned Jamaican sprinter, became the 21st athlete to break the world record for the 100m sprint over the last decade. While the 100m record was broken merely four times from 1900 to 1950, the same record was shattered 17 times in the following 50 years!

You may ask, what does shattering world records have to do with VUCA in the workplace? Research shows that the time span between the launch of a new product and its extinction from the market is decreasing every year. This results in shorter lifespans of companies, a constant overhauling of ways of working, and disruption and change brought about by technology and customer demands. The effects of these changes across the globe happen at lightning speed, and all with VUCA at their core!

In the workplace, the churning of change running constantly in the forefront can result in change fatigue, employees face down, with their noses to the grindstone. Add to that the tension, fear, and a grappling within ourselves as to whether we have the competence and the confidence to take on this new world. The result is oftentimes employees waiting for the latest trend to blow over so they can get back to what they were used to doing.

Unfortunately, that approach doesn’t work well in today’s work environments. After contemplating VUCA and its relationship with change and the topic of “Leading with EQ,” here are some ideas that hopefully will help you ride the VUCA storm:

  1. Take on Volatility with Versatility
    • We all know what it’s iike to have a volatile stock market—unexpected drops and unstable economies are unsettling. Try attacking volatility with versatility—it is essential to hone your ability to be flexible and adapt to different situations. Remember Gumby, that clay figure youngsters loved to bend so the legs were on top of his head yet Gumpy could still stand on his feet? Next time you are faced with volatility, be Gumby-like!
  2. Move from Uncertainty to Understanding
    • A common reaction to uncertainty is fear, which typically leads to resistance. In today’s digital age, technology is a key defense for increasing understanding and awareness. This can be done in many ways including through shared dashboards, online collaboration tools, simple instant messages, and targeted SMS communications. Try creating online learning communities as a forum for employees to learn from each other. This can increase employees’ awareness of what is and what isn’t known which can help reduce fear and even stress.
  3. Tackle Complexity by Building Connections
    • Create direct connections among people across the organization to allow them to sidestep cumbersome hierarchal protocols. Remove barriers and create connections to foster more direct and instant connections, allowing employees to share valuable information, find answers, and get help and advice from people capable of providing the answers. Equally as important in tackling complexity is to build organizational competencies to succeed in tackling complex issues.
  4. Address Ambiguity with Leadership Agility
    • Develop a vison that accounts for VUCA. Stay focused and be a role model to employees in leading and navigating through the chaos. Build change stamina by being aware of the state of readiness of the organization at all times. Use surveys to assess change readiness and learn how it will impact employees. Put stretch goals into place, make them fun, and reward employees for tackling them.

These are just a few ways to adapt your leadership or personal development for the rollercoaster that is VUCA. How do you manage change in your workplace?

About the Author: Debbie Blagsvedt is an Organizational Change Consultant with over 25 years’ experience in change management, performance management, process improvement, training, and facilitation. She has a worked in both the private, public, and non-profit sectors in industries that include health, legal, financial, social services, high tech, and transportation. She currently works as an Organizational Change Consultant with KAI Partners on assignment with a child welfare services agency.  Debbie is passionate about collaboration among teams which she believes leads to high employee satisfaction and is equally fascinated with the rapid-fire speed of change and what it means for organizations today. Debbie grew up in the bay area but now considers Sacramento her home. She has many interests from home projects to wine tasting, volunteering, witnessing the changing face of Sacramento, and going on new adventures with her family and friends. Not to mention nightly walks and occasional mountain hikes with her dog, Emmett.

Why—and How—You Should Implement a Training Workgroup

Best Practices, Corporate Training, KAIP Academy, Learning, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Project Management, Prosci, Team Building, Train the Trainer, Training

By Elizabeth Long

Oftentimes, change management consultants enter a project and provide training resources and knowledge for their client. When the project is over, the consultants take these resources and knowledge with them and the client is left without the tools needed to replicate the work in the future.

Something I strive for as a change management leader on my projects is making sure the knowledge stays internal. I want to make sure the client knows what the consultants know, so that client has the information when the consultants leave.

After over 20 years of providing change management and training for clients across all kinds of industries, something I have found that works wonders is a Train the Trainer approach. With a Train the Trainer approach, a training workgroup is developed. This is a training implementation approach that directly engages the client. The training workgroup is important for knowledge transfer and for client ownership of the product.

Here are my recommended steps for creating the framework for a training workgroup in your organization:

  1. Assess the organizational structure and current training environment. Assess who in the organization is qualified to represent their location or department in the training workgroup. If the organization already has training staff in place, great—these folks are likely a natural fit for the training workgroup.
  2. Ask for volunteers to apply for the training workgroup. It’s important that the people identified in step 1 are interested in and want to be involved in the workgroup. After assessing the organizational structure and coming up with a list of possible participants, I recommend asking those who are qualified to officially submit their interest. You’ll be surprised how many people will want to be involved.
  3. Train the trainers. Once the training workgroup is created, members are trained to be able to deliver trainings to their peers. Here they will learn training best practices, presentation skills, and more.
  4. Deliver and check in. When the materials and trainers are ready, it’s time to deliver! Make sure the workgroup checks in regularly to assess how the training plans and resources are working, if there are areas for improvement, etc.

It can take some time, effort, and planning to get the training workgroup set up, but its benefits are numerous. Here are a few:

  1. Aligns employees across different locations. If you have an audience that’s widespread—perhaps there are satellite or virtual offices across cities or states—the representative from each office becomes that location’s training representative. This person brings back knowledge to the staff at their location. This helps create consistency by making sure employees across the organization are relayed the same information.
  2. Reduces travel/cost savings. A natural benefit of the training workgroup is that it cuts down on travel. Instead of sending an entire training team over to a satellite office—or sending the entire satellite office to headquarters for training—the location’s representative manages the training of the staff at his or her location.
  3. Empowers employees and provides them a new skill-set. We recently talked about career development and how important it is for employees to continuously learn and grow in their jobs. Allowing employees to be involved through the training workgroup can increase their skill-set and open them up to future opportunities within the organization.
  4. Knowledge stays in-house. Most importantly, the knowledge, resources, and plans stay with the organization. Once the internal training workgroup creates training plans and resources, there are now materials on-hand to use for new-hires, transfers, those promoting to new roles, etc. People are trained appropriately and are fully prepared with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed.

I have found that implementing a training workgroup can help break down the silos and bring people together. Members of training workgroups often reach out to one another directly to help problem-solve, which adds a layer of collaboration and cohesion within the organization.

Interested in creating a training workgroup or have additional questions? Email us at info@kaipartners.com or ask your question in the comments! Happy training to you!

About the Author: Elizabeth Long is a professional Organization Development Consultant and Curriculum Developer/Trainer. She received her Certification in Organizational Change Management from Prosci and is certified in e-learning development from Langevine Learning Center. Elizabeth has worked in many industries: High tech, healthcare, and state and local government. Currently, Elizabeth works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc. as a contractor working in a variety of California State Departments. Elizabeth has lived in Sacramento for the past 17 years and appreciates the history of Sacramento as well as its convenience to many well-known destinations like San Francisco, Tahoe, and Reno.

KAI Partners is Hiring!

Agile, Business Analysis, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Communications, Cyber Security, Hiring, Human Resources, Information Security, Information Technology, Issues and Risks, KAI Partners, Onboarding, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Project Management, Risk Assessment, Sacramento, Small Business, Technology, Training

KAI Partners is thrilled to announce we are once again expanding our stellar team! Interested in joining our growing company? Take a look at the following positions for which we are currently hiring!

Business Analyst
The seasoned, motivated, and client-focused Business Analyst should be a highly organized, self-directed, and engaged individual. The Business Analyst will be responsible for a diverse set of responsibilities including, but not limited to:

  • Requirement elicitation and facilitation
  • Business process improvement
  • Business process and narrative modeling
  • User testing
  • Training
  • Organizational change management and communication
  • Process standardization and improvement for ongoing operations

We are looking for four (4) Business Analysts who are enthusiastic problem-solvers who thrive on aligning the client’s business needs with technology solutions. Click here for more information or to apply for one of our on-site, Sacramento-based Business Analyst roles.

IT Audit Consultant
The seasoned, motivated, and client-focused contract IT Audit Consultant will engage with a number of stakeholders in client IT support infrastructures to ensure appropriate processes, procedures, and controls are adequately designed and implemented to meet key control requirements for clients, and will mitigate significant risks that clients deem appropriate. To be successful, the IT Audit Consultant should be a dedicated professional who possesses the analytical, feasibility, relationship, and executive IT audit skills needed to identify and test risk and control management strategies to meet various client requirements, along with compliance and regulatory requirements. The IT Audit Consultant will be responsible for providing IT risk management advice and control solution alternatives as the client needs.

The IT Audit Consultant can be based from anywhere in the U.S., but must have a valid U.S. passport and the ability to travel. Click here or for more information or to apply for the IT Audit Consultant role.

IV&V (Independent Verification & Validation) Consultant
The experienced, motivated, and flexible IV&V Consultant will be an enthusiastic problem-solver who thrives in a fast-paced environment. The IV&V Consultant will be responsible for performing IV&V assessments including, but not limited to:

  • Quality Management
  • Training
  • Requirements Management
  • Operating Environment
  • Development Environment
  • Software Development
  • Systems and Acceptance Testing
  • Data Management
  • Operation Oversight
  • Assessing Program risks

Click here for more information or to apply for the on-site, Sacramento-based IV&V Consultant role.

Scrum Master
The Scrum Master should have experience setting up teams for successful delivery by removing obstacles, constantly helping the team to become more self-organizing, and enabling the work the team does rather than imposing how the work is done. The Scrum Master will manage one or more agile projects, typically to deliver a specific product or transformation via a multi-disciplinary, high-skilled digital team. Adept at delivering complex digital projects, breaking down barriers to the team, and both planning at a higher level and getting into the detail to make things happen when needed, the Scrum Master will define project needs and feed the needs into the portfolio/program process to enable resources to be appropriately allocated.

Click here for more information or to apply for the on-site, Sacramento-based Scrum Master role.

Senior Technical Lead

The experienced, motivated, and flexible Senior Technical Lead should be an enthusiastic problem-solver who thrives on aligning business needs with the technology solutions. The Senior Technical Lead will work with a team of people to deliver the following tasks:

  • Task Accomplishment Plan (TAP)
  • TAP updates
  • Monthly written status reports
  • Requirements Management Plan
  • Project Schedule
  • Weekly Project Schedule Updates
  • Conduct JAD sessions
  • Code Assessment
  • Documentation Review and Assessment
  • Process Analysis
  • Data Analysis
  • Validate Requirements
  • Business Rules Extraction and Analysis
  • Knowledge Transfer

Click here for more information or to apply for the on-site, Sacramento-based Senior Technical Lead role.

Systems Analyst

The experienced, motivated, and flexible Systems Analyst should be an enthusiastic problem-solver who thrives in a fast-paced environment and has SharePoint experience. Some responsibilities of the Systems Analyst include, but are not limited to:

  • Determining operational objectives by studying business functions; gathering information; evaluating output requirements and formats
  • Designing new computer programs by analyzing requirements; constructing workflow charts and diagrams; studying system capabilities; writing specifications
  • Improves systems by studying current practices; designing modifications.
  • Recommending controls by identifying problems; writing improved procedures
  • Defining project requirements by identifying project milestones, phases, and elements; forming project team; establishing project budget
  • Monitoring project progress by tracking activity; resolving problems; publishing progress reports; recommending actions

Click here for more information or to apply for the on-site, Sacramento-based Systems Analyst role.

Technical Lead

The experienced, motivated, and flexible Technical Lead should be an enthusiastic problem-solver who thrives on aligning business needs with the technology solutions. The Technical Lead will work with a team of people to deliver the following tasks:

  • Task Accomplishment Plan (TAP)
  • TAP updates
  • Monthly written status reports
  • Requirements Management Plan
  • Project Schedule
  • Weekly Project Schedule Updates
  • Conduct JAD sessions
  • Code Assessment
  • Documentation Review and Assessment
  • Process Analysis
  • Data Analysis
  • Validate Requirements
  • Business Rules Extraction and Analysis
  • Knowledge Transfer

We are looking for three (3) Technical Leads. Click here for more information or to apply for one of our on-site, Sacramento-based Technical Lead roles.

We look forward to receiving your application today!

A Sno Ball’s Chance (in Effective Communications)

Communications, Infographic, KAI Partners, Organizational Change Management (OCM)

By Diane Dean-Epps

Or, you could call it the Coconut Communication Effect.

Life should be simple.

Things in life we do should be simple.

Things in life we do, eat, feel, experience should be simple.

And maybe make sense along the way. And yet they aren’t simple. And they don’t make sense.

Take my love of coconut, for instance. I love coconut. Simple.

Hostess Sno Balls are made up of approximately 92% coconut. (This is a very scientific calculation.) That’s simple.

However, I don’t like Hostess Sno Balls one little bit. In fact, if they were the last foodstuff left on the Planet Earth I would not eat Sno Balls. Not so simple.

I thought I just said I love coconut. That doesn’t make sense.

See? Simple. Not so simple. (I probably don’t like Sno Balls because the coconut is sulfite-treated, but who knows?)

My love of coconut, and dislike of Sno Balls actually reminds me of communication. Why? Because I’m very imaginative in utilizing metaphors to illustrate a point? Sure. You’re right on that one. It’s also because communication is simple, and yet not so simple. I call this the Coconut Communication Effect.

We all love (translation: engage in) communication in some form.

When you take into consideration the Webster’s dictionary definition that communication is “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs or behavior” it’s that “common system” part of the equation that’s the sticky wicket.

Simple. Not so simple.

We have to make sure we’ve established that common system of which our friend, Webster, spoke if we want a “Sno Call’s Chance” in communicating effectively. This is especially true in business. Any labor sector requires level-setting of criteria, norms, and standards in order to establish a common language. The ol’ “who-what-when-where-why-and-how” of messaging is always in play.

Unlike choosing to eat coconut, in Work World we’ve got to take the proverbial big bite, fully engaging all communication channels to achieve efficient information flow.

As a communications warrior who finds yourself leading the charge in fostering rich internal and external communications for your client, you have to be ready to explain organizational communications. Oddly enough, that may be the toughest challenge you face in your role. I want you to know it is possible to speak simply and succinctly on this topic. Have I got a chart for you.

I’m a big fan of visuals, and in the Digital Age never have truer words been spoken than “a picture is worth a thousand words.” For the purposes of this article, a picture is the aforementioned chart capturing four different types of communications that you’ll see below.

It’s simple. Very Simple. And the best part? You can co-opt it as your own, referring to it as “The Coconut Communication Effect.” Or not. My treat. I’m 92% sure it’ll be useful.

About the Author: Diane Dean-Epps is a Communications Specialist and newly certified ScrumMaster—who currently works for one of KAI Partners’ health care clients. Diane is a teacher and novel writer with numerous publishing credits, including MORE magazine, NPR’s This I Believe, The San Francisco Chronicle, Bigger Law Firm magazine, The Sacramento Business Journal, the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop, and Sacramento magazine.

3 Things Leaders Can Do to Be Better Change Agents

Best Practices, Communications, Employee Engagement, Managing/Leadership, Organizational Change Management (OCM)

By Denise Larcade

One of the most common things I’ve seen through numerous mergers and acquisitions or other major change events within an organization is the lack of engagement and communications from leadership.

Oftentimes, leaders are so busy leading the change, they forget to play an active role in the communications process.

Unfortunately, not adequately communicating change events to staff can cause the rumor mill to start churning (at best) or employee upheaval (at worst).

Luckily, there are some easy ways leaders can mitigate the feelings of confusion and disorder for employees that often come with times of change:

  1. Be Present

As a leader, your physical presence is not only needed, it’s required. Your employees need to see you at town hall meetings, open forums, staff meetings, etc. Anywhere their presence is mandatory, yours should be too.

We know you’re busy; it’s likely not possible for you to attend every town hall meeting across all shifts. Plus, you are already involved in the planning process, so why would you need to be present at these meetings? Remember, your staff doesn’t necessarily know what you know, nor do they know how much you know.

Be present by attending the last 5-10 minutes of each meetings. At the meeting, engage employees by asking questions:

  • What did you learn today?
  • How was this meeting valuable?
  • What can we do better next time?

This shows you are engaged in the discussion while also getting direct feedback on how the communications process can be improved going forward.

  1. Be Honest

The rumor mill can start for numerous reasons:

  • Leaders themselves are not sure about what’s going on within the organization and so they avoid discussions about it
  • The information cascade is not working effectively
  • Employees pick up on small changes in attitude and draw their own conclusions about what’s going on—Joe seemed grumpy today, that must mean a layoff is going to happen.

No matter how the rumors start, it’s important to address them directly, rather than hope they go away. To identify which rumors are out there, try implementing smaller focus group-like sessions. These sessions should include people from across all different departments and should be facilitated by a member of the leadership team who does not directly supervise any of the staff in attendance.

Scheduling these focus groups can be tricky at first (you can schedule video calls with remote teams), but the benefits are numerous. Allowing staff to talk through whatever is on their mind in a small group setting brings about honest conversation, as well as informing leadership about which rumors are out there and need to be addressed.

You can squash the rumors in the focus group itself, as well as address the rumors at the next open forum or town hall. Remember to put questions and answers in a shared location so that all staff can see what was discussed. I recommended keeping the identity of the question-askers anonymous.

For longer change activities—6 months or more—consider setting up an internal webpage or SharePoint where people can ask questions and leadership can provide answers. If updated regularly, this forum can become the first place people look for an answer to a question, and a good way to stop a rumor before it begins.

  1. Be Early

Engage staff early in the change process. If their department is likely to be effected, let them know as soon as it’s appropriate. When possible, bring them into the process to get their feedback about the future state and how they think roles, responsibilities, and procedures should change. When it’s time to implement any changes, employees will be more likely to accept the changes, since they were brought in from the beginning.

It’s also advisable to communicate when you’re going to communicate. Set up a framework or schedule around when people can expect to hear communications and in what form. Whether it’s a monthly town hall meeting on the third Wednesday of the month or an informational email digest each Friday afternoon, set expectations early around when staff will hear updates. The rumor mill has less of a chance to churn if employees know they are scheduled to receive an update at a previously-appointed time.

Change is going to happen whether we like it or not. As a leader, remember to be honest, present, and early in your change communications so that staff is informed, accepts, and is prepared for the change.

About the Author: Denise Larcade is an Organizational Development Consultant and Merger and Acquisitions Expert. She has over 25 years of experience in training, development, and leading companies through organizational change management. Denise has worked in corporate retail, technology, and government healthcare and most recently has experience with large-scale implementations nationwide. She currently works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc., providing client support to one of KAI Partners’ state clients. Denise grew up in the Silicon Valley and relocated to Utah and Idaho before recently returning to her native California roots.

« previous page · next page »