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Why I became a Change Management and Training Consultant By: Keera Godfrey, MBA, M.S., January 2018

Have you ever thought about how you got to where you are today? It is amazing how one decision or action leads to another and so on—all to usher you to your destiny. I remember my first ERP implementation project, which was in 2014. I was brought in as the Training Lead on a global SAP implementation project for a large manufacturer of bakery products. The project was in its second year and apparently there were major signs of trouble. But, being new and a little naive, I had high hopes that I could make a difference. I had extensive experience building and managing training programs so, piece of cake, right? Well, not exactly. After assessing the situation and talking to plant managers in the U.S. I flew out to the U.K. to introduce myself to the project team who was closing out the first phase of the implementation and I laid out my plan to revamp the training program. After my meeting, the program director pulled me aside to inform me that since this was the second year of the project, the training budget had been spent and anything I planned had to be cost-free. After a big gulp in my throat, armed with pure naïveté and full of can-do-ism, I proceeded with my master plan.

If I could say so myself, it was a great plan, but the company sorely underestimated the power and importance of change management to influence users and therefore, training. Based on past projects in process improvement and stakeholder involvement, I knew that engaging with leadership and employees was important, but I took it for granted that all communications with these groups had been established in the beginning of the project. Sadly, there were leaders who did not fully support the project. In fact, this project did not have a change management strategy or plan. As time went on I realized I was in deep cow dung, but it was too late to turn back.

I remember at the end of the training sessions for Phase II, the Program Director asked me how will I know when the users are ready. He said that he needed to provide an answer to the Steering Committee. I was responsible for executing the Train-the-Trainer program, so I proceeded to answer from a training perspective and gave him the results of a training assessment tool I created. The assessment was designed as a quick self-reported tool to measure engagement with the system and ability to train other users. My intention was to move beyond “can you,” but rather assess “will you.” I was interested in motivation and self-efficacy because, in the current situation, the assessment provided valuable information to help identify additional training needs. With my results in hand, I was able to tell the program manager which departments were ready and which ones were not. I was also able to identify individual users and transactions that posed a challenge. Impressive, but that was not what he was looking for. As a Project Manager, he wanted more hard facts and statistics based on the user’s performance in the system, which were not available. The company did not invest in the proper tools and resources that would have provided this information nor was there money or time to do so then.

This was my first encounter with a project that did not have change management and I must say that this was the pivotal experience that set the course to my current career. Before this project, I knew that the acquisition of new knowledge and skills do not change behavior, but the reality of it came alive. While on the project, I was also working on my Doctoral degree in Education, specializing in global training and development. Because of this experience I shifted my dissertation topic to user readiness and adoption. I also began a quest to understand critical success factors and key performance indicators in ERP implementation projects. I wanted to know what practical metrics should be used to measure user readiness and adoption? How can Training Managers, Change Managers and Project Managers work together? Should all ERP projects have a Change Manager?

So, in a nutshell this is how and why I am a Change Management and Training Consultant today. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity I had to work on the global SAP implementation project in 2014 and to all the wonderful project team members I met from all over the world. They know who they are, and I love all of them. Yes, there is life after a SAP implementation project!

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An Integrated Approach to Training Management by Keera S. Godfrey, M.S., MBA

We often hear that knowledge is power. However, in my experience, knowledge alone does not have the power to change behavior or guarantee performance. For example, I have knowledge that eating a warm brownie with ice-cream would interfere with my weight loss plan, but knowledge alone and even a Bachelor’s in Health Science does little to stop me from eating it.

Research has shown that skill is also not enough to guarantee performance. Each time a manager approves a training request, they do so hoping his or her employee returns smarter and eager to demonstrate their new skills. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.  For maximum performance, only a workforce that is motivated to learn and inspired to use the knowledge and skills acquired has the power to revolutionize an organization.

This is why at Naris Communication, we take an integrated approach to developing training strategies and programs. We understand that lasting behavioral change and knowledge transfer requires a systematic plan that involves integration at multiple levels in the organization, including Human Resources, Sales, and Operations, as well as at hierarchical levels, including vice presidents, mid-level managers, supervisors, and front-line associates.

At Naris Communications, we work with our clients to develop training programs that support learning and performance during implementation and beyond. Our strategy for program development places keen emphasis on four conditions for successful job performance: skill, an opportunity to perform, self-efficacy, and a supportive environment (see Figure 1). All four conditions are critical to performance and success in a corporate environment. For example, as shown in Figure 1, the impact training professionals have on workplace performance is shared with the management team.

Figure 1: Performance Model shown above

Utilizing proven techniques for adult learners, trainers help to increase knowledge, skills and self-efficacy (perception of ability to perform); however, only managers can create a supportive learning environment and an opportunity to perform in the workplace.  Overall, learning and development professionals at Naris Communications consider all four quadrants of the Performance Model when designing training programs. We also consider the technological systems and business processes required to sustain learning, motivation, and workplace performance. Visit us today at www.nariscommunications.com.

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3 Must Do’s When Communicating Change By: Keera Godfrey, MBA, M.S.

To change means to become altered, modified, transformed or converted. At every level, whether it is personal, in business, political, or social among friend or family, all of us have experienced change that alter our lives.

Whether the change is invited or not, it seems to penetrate our lives and demand our full attention. It is true that the only constant is change.  Organizations are constantly seeking innovative ideas that may lead to growth, faster production, cost-savings, and ultimately greater profitability, which basically means change.

So, what does training, education, skill assessments, business proposals, stakeholder involvement, and communications have in common? The answer, all of them are needed to support change. However, this integration must be monitored and managed. To better manage change (and the resistance to it) the best strategy is to create change agents at every level within the organization who can communicate with their peers. The reality is that most people do not like change and when change is not communicated effectively, the results can be disastrous.

Luckily, here at Naris Communications, we help our clients see change as opportunity.  We specialize in change management through strategic stakeholder communications and training to maximize each opportunity. Studies show that there are specific moments along the change curve to best influence stakeholders, the process, and the outcome of change. We help our clients capitalize on these moments to maximize performance and adoption.

3 Must Do’s

Communicate “the why”. Explain why the changes are happening and the overall benefits for the company. Make sure all verbal and written communication is clear and concise. Don’t let the benefits of the change get lost in translation.

Answer the question, What’s in it for me”? Most people want to know what’s in it for them. How does the change affect their current job status and daily tasks? Managers should be prepared to explain what is changing to their associates.

Allow Feedback and Questions. It takes time for people to adjust to change so keep an open-door policy for employees to ask questions. Consider hosting Listening Session or Q&A Session led by a skilled facilitator.

About Naris Communications, our experience in learning and development, proposal development, public and risk communications, change management, and ERP implementation, gives us the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to help you transition through change, achieve business objectives, and improve bottom-line results.

Call Keera Godfrey today to see how we can help navigate your change journey!

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4 Keys to Cross-Cultural Training

Some time ago, I watched a movie about an American guy who traveled to India for business. His job was to train people in customer service in the new division in India. He arrived in India during the summer months wearing a suit and tie.  A driver whose job was to take the American guy to his new home greeted him at the airport. He had no knowledge of what to expect upon his arrival. Needless to say, he soon sweated out his suit. After the driver drove him to his new home. The American man immediately purchased a drink from a street vendor. He was sick for the next few days. No one told him not to eat the food since his body needed time to adjust to the food in the new culture. In the office, he learned his way of doing business didn’t always work with his Indian co-workers. However, over the course of his time there, the American gained a more collaborative approach to working with his colleagues. His attire relaxed, his approach to employee morale shifted, and he adapted to their culture. Ultimately, his experience in this environment changed his life, for the better.

 

The fictional company in the movie did a poor job of training everyone in preparation for the changes to come. The American employee traveled to India and was expected to perform a task, but he was sadly ill-equipped from a cultural perspective. Yes, he may have possessed the technical skills needed for the job, but without the ability to communicate and collaborate with other cultures, frustration and ultimately failure will result.

 

As more companies expand into the global market. The demand for cross-cultural training will continue to grow.  At every level in a global organization, employees are required to connect with colleagues, customers, and vendors from other cultures. All global organizations should include cross-cultural training to help employees gain cultural competency skills needed for effective collaboration and to prepare employees for expat assignments in other countries.  As companies invest more in cross-cultural training, executives must be strategic in their efforts to develop cultural competency as an organizational core value. When preparing for a cross-cultural training, consider the following:

 

  1. Cultural considerations should be woven into decisions about motivating people, structuring projects, and developing business strategy.

 

  1. Cross-cultural training for expat employees working outside of their home country should include scenarios that mimic real life experiences where they will collaborate and work with colleagues from other cultures.

 

  1. Cross-cultural training should create more self-awareness. In other words, attendees should also leave the training knowing more about themselves, their cultures, their personal preference, and their ability to adapt.

 

  1. Training modules should meet the needs of all who are involved. Refer to Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions and incorporate key learnings to guide the instructional design. For example, one culture may thrive off group settings more while another culture is more interested in working individuals. Create modules with a mixture of activities that address the needs of both cultures by including group activities with clear and concise directions.

 

How Can Naris Communication Help?

 

Naris Communications offers a self-paced Cultural Competency course designed using scientific-based documents by industry leaders.  A leading expert in effective educational communications and change management, Naris Communications is a full-service consultancy that supports in organizational transformation projects. In addition to consulting, we provide leadership and other soft-skills training solutions that support the train-the-trainer approach to organizational knowledge transfer. Visit our website at nariscommunications.com to learn more about how to enroll in our Cultural Competency Course.