This post is the third of a five-part series on Peak Development’s CLEAR Model of Change©, which encompasses Communication, Leadership, Education, Active Involvement, and Reinforcement. Be sure to read the previous installments, and become a subscriber to Peak Development’s free, monthly Article Review Service to be notified when future installments are published.
According to Pete Cashmore, founder and CEO of the global media and entertainment company Mashable, “Execution really shapes whether your company takes off or not.” In my experience, organizations often over-invest on the front end of change initiatives, but under-invest on implementation. They devote a great deal of time and energy to designing new models and building support, but underestimate what it will take to live into the new way of operating. That’s why education is such an important component of Peak Development’s CLEAR Model for Change. It is not enough to make a compelling case for why change is necessary or to develop detailed plans. Organizations must consider what skills and behaviors are needed for people to be successful in the new model, and how those skills and behaviors can best be developed.
Educating the organization on how to be successful in a new environment requires a plan that is as streamlined as possible and as individualized as necessary. What is needed may differ by role, division, level, geography, and more. Some change efforts may depend more on improving the leadership skills of the organization’s senior leaders; some may require new technical skills of functional employees; some may be more about changing the everyday behaviors of people throughout the organization; most likely, it will be a combination of these three. List your stakeholder groups and think through how the change will impact each of them. Your educational approach could vary depending on how much or how little your stakeholders have in common. Look for needs shared across all your groups as well as differences that will benefit from a more customized approach, and build your plan accordingly.
For any education effort, you’ll receive your strongest return on investment if you design opportunities that match how adults learn best. Malcolm Knowles, a foundational thinker in the field of adult learning, suggested five teaching strategies for adults. Adults learn best when:
- They understand why something is important to know or do – Help people understand “what’s in it for me”; how this new information will benefit the company and impact their lives in a positive way.
- They have the freedom to learn in their own way – There are three learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. People learn best when they can experience all three—seeing, hearing, and doing—but most people have a preferred style. Allowing people choice in how they learn and develop can help them feel more ownership in the outcomes.
- The learning is experiential – Approximately 80% of learning in the workplace happens on the job, through interactions with colleagues. Yet often change leaders default to formal, classroom training when crafting their learning strategies. Both methods have a place, but most organizations can do much more to encourage and facilitate on-the-job learning.
- The time is right for them to learn – Increasingly, people are looking for on-demand learning opportunities, turning to Google, YouTube, or other on-line sources for just-in-time answers. How well is your organization meeting this need?
- The process is positive and encouraging – This is classic conditioning: you’ll get stronger, more sustainable results by rewarding success. Look for ways to encourage employees and accentuate the positive.
For change to take root, people need to be given the opportunity to learn, grow, and succeed. Providing education for them to be successful is what makes successful change possible. Think of your efforts as more than teaching employees what to do; when done right, your education efforts can teach the organization a new way to be.
Read the next article in the series:
A CLEAR Model for Change, Part 4: Active Involvement