The process of change consultant, I spend a large part of my time interviewing staff at all levels of the organization to understand the current state of the process and organization appetite for change. Every interaction I’m constantly watching the body language, define power dynamics, build confidence and determination of the level of resistance or openness to change. Effective interview techniques are important to the success of any process of change management project. The following are my Top 5 Tips for consultants (or any) paid by adding and therefore change, business process.
1. One size does not fit all – not fixate on one solution
I believe the number one mistake advisors make the change management project is fixating on a single solution that they consider will solve the problem. There are many factors within the agency that can prevent a new process is working correctly. In interviews, keep the solution itself and instead focus on asking probing questions to determine whether a solution is reached for the organization. For example, if the solution is to implement a new automated system, you need to evaluate IT qualifications of employees who will be using it or whether a system meets the agency’s corporate IT standards, etc. Just because the solution has worked for one company does not mean it will work again. If you present a solution to customers that they are not to perform or present, you have failed to conduct effective interviews with Phase 1 of the project.
2. Leave No Stone left unturned – Engage Every stakeholders
process improvement projects usually affect a large group of employees and cause a small ripple effect in other departments or certain employees outside the main group. It is easy to overlook or underestimate the impact of peripheral stakeholders due to the demands to meet deadlines and create change urgent. However, in order to successfully complete the project, each person should be hired and interviews to ensure the changes do not cause such adverse problems that the project is considered a failure and your reputation is tarnished.
3. Do not be afraid to actively manage the conflict or politics
We all know that most organizations are rife with passive (and sometimes not so passive) conflict employees and political game. In my experience, this is the leading cause of project failure because people were not (or want) to work together and align their priorities with the organization. It is important to know the conflict or politics that can inhibit the activities and the main way to do this is through interviews. Once you have identified the problem you need to decide how to actively manage the situation in order to succeed.
one client projects I planned a meeting with two executives and put issues on the table and explain why the project could not proceed until they reached some kind of understanding and compromise. This was very good at that particular task with a particular people, though each situation will be different and I would study personal training to round out people management skills when dealing with employee conflicts and corporate politics of the project.
4. Always get ideas and give credit
During the first exploratory discussions my interviews on the project I always close the interview to the question “What would you do to improve / resolve this situation? “. As a consultant your role is to consider the complexity of the whole problem and propose a solution and implementation plan that will achieve greater operational efficiency. While you’ve been hired to process change management experience and knowledge, you should never underestimate the ideas and input of Agency staff (Those who are closest to the action and will finally perform live with the changes long after you’re gone). If the solution you present management involves the concept of worker, be sure to give them full credit. This will continue to build confidence and encourage staff to change champion.
5. Location, Location, Location
When scheduling interviews, make sure the location is right in the conversation and seniority of the person. When in doubt, ask a personal assistant or administrative assistant that meeting would be appropriate. However, when it is possible, I try to conduct one-on-one interviews with the desk person. Often this gives me a “better feel” for culture and I usually get more information from the interviewee that they can provide information immediately. The main draw back though, is that you often need to be very skillful in keeping the person focus and material to cover all the questions within the allotted time.