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Organizational change is a constant for HR. Check out our blog for ideas, tools and techniques for designing new organization structures, teams, roles, and capabilities as well as effectively managing the people side of change and transformation to achieve desired outcomes.


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Top tags: Organizational Development  Change  Communication  Change Management  Social Media  Development  Future Workplace  GenX  Human Resources  Manage  Metrics  Millennials 


Posted By Ray Vollmer, Sunday, May 15, 2016
Change is a tricky game in today's workplace and is a constant part of our lives on every level of an organization. It causes disruption, individual performance can suffer in the short term, and emotions can run high.  Change can also be career progressing, fulfilling, rewarding and provide opportunity for growth.  That was never more apparent than during the most recent SIG where the combined forces of Talent Development and Org Dev & Change presented case studies in how change is captured in different ways which have big learning opportunities on the culture of the organizations we serve.  We had a lot of takeaways from the presentations and small cases which surfaced some important learning points.  Those takeaways were succinctly described by Karen Weeks in "Providing Development Opportunities”  posted in the Talent Development Section of the blog.  Some other thoughts to share are:
A common theme with any change initiative is that frequent, transparent, and sincere communication to those affected by the change is crucial.  The formats used to communicate depend on the size of the organization and the culture.  For instance, in laying out a new sales team structure and direction it was paramount that a clear strategy be communicated and reinforced through group training, one on one and organizationally.  Clients also need to know to some degree how the sales team is changing.
Not everyone will like the change nor buy into it.  That is ok and part of the process, but managers and human resources have to keep a close eye on who is buying in, leading the change or who is putting up road blocks and pivot accordingly.        
Organizations are not always knowledgeable about the talent they have right in front of them.  People will rise up naturally and slide into leadership roles without formality or structure.  Others will need more direct assessment of skills and where they will contribute the most to change and beyond.  Some employees will leave, some will be asked to leave and others will drink the Kool-Aid and fit right in with the change. 

It is incumbent upon leadership and HR to engage in coaching and training to make informed decisions about next steps in a change process.  Also, during disruption through department reorganization, back office outsourcing, merger or other change, people can go into survival mode and dig in, rise up or check out.  A sort of vacuum can be created where leadership opportunities for the natural leader or the informal influencers behind the scenes are typically filled. These are the people we want to give more opportunity to.  You need their buy-in in a big way for successful change.  Have them communicate the change along with the executives.
If you would like to hear more about the cases or any of the specific take aways, please feel free to reach out to Karen Weeks, Jen White, Anita van Burken or Ray Vollmer.

Tags:  Change  Change Management  Communication  Development  Human Resources 

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Posted By Jennifer White, Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Case for Change

A $1B company was not meeting expectations for growth and had extremely high turnover in their salesforce. The CHRO and SVP of Sales created a vision for transforming their salesforce and sales operations model.  The Sale Managers played a critical role as ambassadors of the change initiative.  The SVP of Sales presented the business case and the vision to the Sales Managers for improving key metrics such as retention, market share, sales and profits.  The vision for the future included a three pronged strategy:

  1. A new hunter sales model with a strong focus on building referral networks
  2. Recruiting Sellers based on sales potential instead of sales or industry experience and training them on a new sales model
  3. A new compensation plan aligned to the sales performance model.


Engagement - Enrolling Stakeholders in Defining the Future

To build commitment, the Sales Managers and their Sellers all had an active part in defining the future state of the ideal Seller.  The Sales Managers and some high potential Sellers participated in qualitative interviews and completed job analysis questionnaires to provide advice on what would define the Sellers of the future. 

This job analysis participation moved them into the role of change agents. The SVP of Sales communicated that all current Sellers would be invited to complete a sales behaviors questionnaire (sales personality and motivational questionnaire) to help define which sales characteristics and competencies would drive sales performance in the new sales model. Sales Managers also completed short sales competency rating forms (derived from the job analyses results) for each of their Sellers.  


Using Measurement to Communicate and Drive Change

The SVP of Sales sent a formal email to all current Sellers explaining the vision for the future and inviting all 300 to complete an online sales questionnaire to help identify what sales characteristics would predict sales success in the new sales model. 

Existing sales metrics were collected on each Seller. The sales dimensions predictive of Sellers’ performance (sales metrics and supervisors’ ratings) were used to build a sales profile.  The SVP of Sales, HR team, and Sales Managers presented the Sales Profile to show the ROI of selecting Sellers based on the new sales profile.


Communication - Roll Out

Once the Sales Managers were bought into the value of the Sales Profile, the aligned competency model and sales assessment was implemented.  A new selection process with competency-based interview guides was developed and used to recruit Sellers.  Lastly, the new sales training tailored to teach the newly defined sales competency model was rolled out.


Demonstrating the Impact of the Sales Transformation

A follow up study four months later demonstrated the greater than projected improvement in sales, profits and tenure of Sellers hired since the launch. The tenure of those who fit the new Sales Profile was twice as long as others and they were most likely to achieve their sales targets. 

A key take-away is that measurement in the form of questionnaires, competency assessments, and interviews was an effective tool for communicating desired changes.  Moreover, metrics for sales behaviors and sales performance, clearly aligned with the tools, helped drive overall company sales and profit results.  Vision achieved.


This post was contributed by Craig Haas, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Professional Services for Cut-e Group.  He provides talent management consulting and high volume assessment solutions for talent acquisition and development. More information about Craig and Cut-e can be found at

Tags:  Change Management  Metrics  Organizational Development 

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Change Management Meets Social Media

Posted By Anita van Burken, Thursday, March 17, 2016

According to Weber Shandwick research, 55% of employees who have recently gone through a change event wanted more social and digital interaction with their employer. Although not a replacement for face-to-face engagement, internal social media is becoming a more and more important component of an effective change management strategy – especially given the global and dispersed nature of today’s workforce. Regardless of the change event – from a CEO transition to an acquisition – it can shorten the distance between leaders and employees, empower employees to help influence the future state, offer camaraderie and a space to process, and drive employee behavior change.

When a global healthcare company undertook the introduction of a new operating model that impacted where and how work got done across the organization, they looked to break through the noise and demonstrate greater authenticity by moving from 1-way information cascades to a more interactive way of engaging with their stakeholders.  They needed employees to both understand the business rationale for the change and commit to a new way of working.

The company considered a wide range of tools that would help them leverage internal social media as a change management tool – from a mobile app that people managers going through launches could leverage to communicate with one another, to "Jam” sessions hosted on Yammer that allow small groups of employees around the world to ask real-time questions of project leaders in a protected environment, to employee-narrated videos explaining the "before” and "after” posted to an internal video sharing platform for liking, commenting and sharing. They also considered creating a viral, competitive internal social campaign that invited employees to commit to the new way of working by posting one thing they would do differently in the future state; they would then track commitments by region until 100% of employees had pledged their support.  Because the company has a more conservative culture, encouraging this type of openness, transparency and engagement is taking time, but early feedback suggests that employees are moving along the change continuum from resistance to acceptance and have a clear understanding of the case for change.

Companies interested in adding social to their change management quiver should take time to assess their tools, develop a risk mitigation plan, convert their leaders and track key metrics along the way. 

This post was contributed by Sarah Clayton, Executive Vice President with Weber Shandwick.  Sarah recently participated as a panel member for a presentation on Communicating Change.   This blog share some of the highlights of the role of social media in effective change communication.  More information about Sarah may be found at

Tags:  Change  Communication  Organizational Development  Social Media 

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Change Communications That Help Make It Happen

Posted By Anita Van Burken, Wednesday, March 16, 2016

No matter how hard we try, change always seems to stress organizations and the people living through the transitions.  Communications can play a major role in overcoming resistance and accelerating progress, especially two-way communications based on the principles of inclusion, co-design and transparency.

"If It’s For Us, It Needs to be By Us.” 

When the Girl Scouts of the USA launched its transformation efforts a few years ago, we built an extensive communications campaign around this principle.  It began with the creation of a website. It was our way to connect everyone in our distributed Movement and offer anytime, anywhere access to the most up-to-date and accurate information.  The site quickly became more than just access.  It became a center for Q & A discussions, rumor busting, peer-to-peer connections, idea sharing, timelines and testimonials.  Since learning has become so personal, it became our showcase for a variety of formats including podcasts, videos, photos and selfies.  It also allowed us to measure our own effectiveness.  We could see from the peaks and valleys in activity what was resonating and what was not.

Graphics was another key communications tool, and in line with the principles of inclusion, we used them in unique ways to expand the sense of "being in the room when it happened.”    Let me give you an example.  We held a retreat to collect organization design ideas to align with our new strategy.  The 100 participants represented a cross section of voices, but there were still too man y who felt left out.  To invite more voices into the process, we took the graphics from the retreat and displayed them as a storyboard for several weeks.  We trained retreat participants to serve as docents who guided their colleagues through gallery walks.  We also digitized these graphics and recorded a docent tour for use by our members across the country.  After a few weeks, we hosted several live chats to collect reactions and more ideas.

A For Us-By Us commitment requires involvement, and lots of it.  When we introduced four new competencies for fit with our new ways of work, we knew we could not dictate their meaning.  That would need to be built collaboratively by all of us.  To drive this involvement we introduced a peer recognition program that was simple and open to all.   When you encountered someone behaving in a way that brought the intention of the competency to life, you could recognize them in a simple online process.  In 400 characters or less, you tell the story of what they did and why it was so meaningful.  All stories were saved in a digital library to build common meaning.  A committee of peers selected a few examples to be shared at monthly staff meetings.  In no time at all, our new competencies were guiding our behaviors toward success.

Inclusion is a meaningful and often overlooked communications tool.  It does not focus on the difficult task of changing people.  Instead, it offers the organization benefit of the knowledge already in its system and invites each of us to help build the organization that we want to be a part of.  That is a powerful change accelerator.


This post was contributed by Diane Oettinger-Myracle. Formerly Strategic Change and Innovation Architect with the Girl Scouts of America, Diane is now Managing Partner and Leadership Coach at TMT Associates, Inc.  Diane participated recently as a panel member for a presentation on Communicating Change.  Her blog shares some of the highlights of her experience with the Girl Scouts of America.  More information about Diane can be found by visiting


Tags:  Change  Communication  Organizational Development 

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A Matter Of Building Your House Of Commitment

Posted By Anita van Burken, Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Have you seen the TV show Tiny House Nation? I really like it. Drawn to the prospect of financial freedom, a simpler lifestyle, and limiting one's environmental footprint, more buyers are opting to downsize -- in some cases, to spaces no larger than 300 square feet -- and this series celebrates the "tiny house" movement.

The host and the carpenter make a great team. Zack is the creative and ingenious builder, working on the new organizational design, structure and processes. Host and presenter John is the people manager who needs to create awareness, "tiny living” readiness and to get buy-in to this tiny living concept. 

Of course there is someone showing a lot of resistance to this revolutionary way of living. This is the moment where John comes in with his customized change communication tools! He facilitates limited space exercises with families, lets spouses co-build, does clothing reduction exercises with couples, organizes funny quizzes and has cute and confrontational chats over too many dolls and I-never-want-to-part-from-my-101-pair-of-shoes. Of course at the end of the show, even the 15 year old is 100% on board, totally committed to his new tiny house. A check-in after 1 month (read: employee repeat-survey) shows the whole family living happily ever after.

At our very well-attended NYC-SHRM event on March 3, our 3 fabulous panelists, Diane Oettinger-Myracle, Craig Haas and Sarah Clayton, discussed 3 totally different cases from 3 different perspectives. And yet, all addressed  ‘Change Communications’ and their specific choice of tools.

I think you get my point: no matter what organization and the case for change, communicating change is all about engaging stakeholders – from employees, managers and clients to volunteers  – to overcome resistance and realize transformation. Using metrics is like hitting the nail on the head by showing undeniable data. Social media turns into a powerful support mechanism, keeping your organization in different locations tight and aligned. Story telling is like that perfect inspirational quote on the wall, reflecting your family values.

And so, OD and Change Management practitioners, start building your House of Commitment by choosing a mix of change communication tools that match your organizational culture, size etc.  But please don’t get too comfortable by grabbing that good ol’ hammer that was still your grandpa’s. Also try out that new tool that’s just on the market and trust the users. All stakeholders might be pleasantly surprised!


Anita van Burken

Co-Chair, OD & Change SIG, NYC-SHRM

Tags:  Change  Communication  Organizational Development  Social Media 

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The Workplace of the Future

Posted By Janet Hoffmann, Sunday, November 8, 2015
When Margaret Regan from the FutureWork Institute took us on a visual tour through the future workplace, it felt (To Be Honest) like being on the one and only high tech roller coaster in the world. Talking about four different generations who will be populating the workforce pretty soon is the gentle, first part of the ride. The wind is in your hair and you still have a smile on your face. 
But then … you see the steep hill before all the loops, twists and turns. You can hardly breathe and there’s no way back. There it comes. Anybots, Avatars, Androids, Drones, Holodecks and ESI’s: Enhanced Singular Individuals who will have the ability to take complex data and process it millions of times faster than a normal human because they have nanobots in their blood stream. Or simply take a smart pill (you didn’t hear that from me). When do you think we will have brain chips? It will be common in 2030. Whaaah!

Thank goodness there are a few more gentle parts in this ride to recover for a moment. Project teams will work like movie production teams based on negotiated talent. The “Third workspace” allows everyone to work anytime, anywhere beyond the office or at home. Telepresence makes you want to shake hands with your colleagues on screen from the other side of the world, so utterly realistic it is. And, of course, you arrange for a crowd-sourced performance appraisal to get immediate feedback on how you did. Technology will allow for having everything on demand and the future workforce expects to get things instantly.

All of a sudden, the ride is over. I feel totally disoriented but thrilled at the same time. I heard from my friend sitting next to me that I screamed. I didn’t even realize it. 
So there is only one question left to you as an OD /Change Management practitioner: 

What will you do to persuade the executives in your organization to go on that same ride, widen their vision and take action?

Enjoy, wonder and scream. After all, it is almost Halloween.

Anita van Burken
Co-Chair OD & Change SIG, New York City SHRM

Workplace of the Future was a program offered by our NEW Special Interest Group on Organizatinal Development and Change.  Stay tuned for more exciting programming. We hope you will join us!

Tags:  Change Management  Future Workplace  Organizational Development 

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When Gen Xers Manage Millennials

Posted By Kristin Hassan, Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Millennials may be the younger siblings of Gen Xers, but they were raised differently, with different expectations from their (usually Boomer) parents. Gen Xers, now in the role of manager to Millennial employees, are finding that their view of work, priorities, and use of time differ from those of their employees.

Born between 1965 and 1977, Gen Xers were the last of the “free range” children raised to be independent, take responsibility, and get things done in the absence of supervision. In the economic turmoil of the 1970s and 1980s, during which 40 percent of their parents lost their jobs and/or got divorced, they came home to an empty house, started dinner, and had their homework done before their overworked parents got home. They could not call their parents at work for dinner or homework help without getting them fired. As a result their world view is skeptical and pragmatic—they are businesslike, realistic, and determined. Often the only child or one of two children in the household, Gen Xers are used to working alone.

Born between 1978 and 1989, Millennials were the most over-scheduled, highly supervised generation to come along. The economy improved and jobs were more available in the 1990s, so their parents worked fewer hours and became their Millennial children’s “best friends.” These “helicopter parents” went everywhere with them: school, ballgames, plays, even weekends away at college, and now many go with their adult Millennial children to job interviews and often want to negotiate job offers and salary increases. After 9/11, parents wanted to be able to reach their children by phone at all times, so every Millennial had a cell phone and is used to constant contact. In the words of a Millennial I know, her parents never told her “no” or any variation of “no.” Helicopter parents tried hard to say “yes” to all requests. As a result, Millennials can be overly optimistic and not particularly inclined to follow policies and procedures. Millennials are multitaskers who grew up with groups of friends who did everything together and often worked on collaborative projects in school. It can be difficult for them to make decisions without input from parents or friends because of lack of practice.

Millennials are loyal to their managers, not to their company, and they have no fear of quitting without another job in hand—because mom and dad still have a room waiting for them. While Gen Xer managers will leave at 5:00 p.m. to spend time with their families, childless tech-savvy Millennials may come in late or want to work from a café, home, or other location, not necessarily between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The greatest challenge for Gen Xer managers is to focus on managing their Millennial employees’ outputs and quality of results, not time at a desk. It can be a challenge for skeptical Gen Xer managers to provide the level of encouragement and feedback that gives naturally optimistic Millennials confidence and keeps them engaged. Face time is the secret management tool that retains Millennials.

Gen Xers can command loyalty by encouraging constant learning, modeling desired behaviors, and patiently letting Millennials try new approaches. Wise Gen Xer managers build relationships with their Millennial employees by focusing on areas of commonality such as both generations’ interest in constant learning, project success, and community service.

Nancy S. Ahlrichs is a business development consultant at FlashPoint, where she interacts with human resource professionals, executives, and business owners in order to understand their organizational needs. She collaborates with our other team members to develop appropriate consulting solutions and supports prospects throughout the sales process.

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Tags:  GenX  Manage  Millennials 

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