Kick-off rocked but now nothing is happening. 5 hot clues to unlock energy for change.

“You can not learn this on the job! Training is mandatory.” And yet, we witnessed a disturbingly low enrollment rate. Without a critical mass of well-trained users, there was no way Enbridge would see a return on a multi-million dollar technology transformation investment. Why weren’t they signing up?

Here are the major suspects when people are not engaging:

1. Communication breakdown
If people don’t know about the change, AND how it connects to them, they won’t engage. We had blitzed the audience regularly over the course of months, repeatedly explaining the “what, when, where, how, and why”.

2. Credibility gap
Does the change have any appeal? Does it benefit the individual or offer fulfillment, purpose or hope for the future? If the direction doesn’t resonate or if stakeholders don’t believe it can succeed, or there is a lack of leadership, they will hold back. Carefully crafted readiness checkpoints indicated that our audience knew why the change was necessary and were supportive of it.

3. Frozen by fear
Being overwhelmed by change leaves some people unable to do anything – completely immobilized. Our users were quite capable and talented. We knew that they knew they could learn the new system.

4. Empty toolbelt
Practically, people need the tools, time, and talent to navigate change.

BINGO! We discovered that our beautifully developed training which we thought would attract people who wanted to develop their skills, in fact was a detriment. At two days in duration, employees were faced with making up work time on evenings and weekends because the company runs very thin. There was no backfill and they didn’t have time to attend training.

5. Insufficient motivation
Check the rewards system. Is the change punishing in some way? Are people rewarded for doing something else?

Our stakeholders not only lacked capacity to take training, we realized that since we had not changed their performance goals to include effective use of the new system, people were motivated only to keep doing what they had always done…because that’s what their managers would reward.

Change does not operate in a vacuum. What is competing for their attention and engagement? Follow the clues and get practical.


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Jeff Skipper
Jeff Skipper is an expert in accelerating change. Clients such as Shell, Goldman Sachs and The Salvation Army have engaged him to achieve dramatic results during strategic transformation by wrapping complex change in motivating mission. He has been quoted in Fast Company, Forbes and HP’s enterprise.nxt. Jeff holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and is a Certified Change Management Professional.