Change reinforcement is, in my experience, the most neglected aspect of Change Management. Usually after a project is successfully implemented, the project team “high fives”, celebrates success and then moves on to the next project. A year later, when it is discovered people are not following processes and policies or not using a system as it was intended, management will scratch their heads and wonder “where did we go wrong?”.
The answer to that is that no one was monitoring the change and reinforcing it as a part of a continuing activity both during and after the project. It is the Project Manager’s responsibility to ensure that a Change Reinforcement Plan is in place with defined roles, responsibilities and processes.
Reinforcing change includes assessing the results of change management activities, conducting compliance audits and implementing corrective action. Plan to actively seek out and celebrate early successes. Transfer ownership from the change management team to the Sponsoring Organization. The Organization assumes the role of reinforcing change and rewarding ongoing performance.
Understanding how the people are embracing the change and the effect on the results of the project will be addressed during project close and audit phases of the project. During the project you may want to build in activities to assess the effectiveness of your change management, communication and training plans. This can include:
- Surveys or employee feedback on their understanding of the change, desire to change, knowledge acquisition, skills assessment, and the employees perception
- Testing to ensure employees understand the new systems and processes
- Use of metrics. Several metrics can be put in place post implementation to measure if the people change efforts were successful. These may include: System usage, performance reports, how often is the “old way of doing things” still used.
Based on these forms of evaluation of the effectiveness of the change strategies, modifications can be made to the plans. This may include: re-training, additional communication, one on one coaching, etc.