How to implement a change management plan successfully?
07 September 2020
Long read about change management written by Peter Kauw – Interim Plant Manager
In my previous two articles, I described how to introduce changes in various plants. In this article, I will discuss how you can manage a successful implementation. A condition that plays an important role, is that all participants involved have to be committed before and during the change process. Based on a practical example, I will provide insight on how I was able to successfully manage a change at a printing and cardboard factory in the southern part of the Netherlands.
Consideration on how to approach the implementation process
After working as an Interim Operation Director in the company for four weeks, I was able to conclude, from various interviews, that the confidence in management to improve matters was not high in the workplace. The first reason for this was that business remained or left untouched for a long period of time. Top management wrongfully accused the bottom-line workers that the work was not carried out properly. This led to poor or insufficient communication between departments. As a result, the performance showed a negative trend.
The underlying cause was that the low operational performance and the improvement measures that were taken were not prompt reported to the top management. Middle management felt trapped between these two fires and was unable to bridge this. A difficult dilemma, that played an important role for a successful change implementation.
Start with a morning meeting
How was I supposed to handle this? I searched for earlier solutions for previous problems. I remembered the morning meetings at a can-manufacturing plant. My experience during this plant was not without errors, however I believed that a similar strategy could be applied. I planned daily morning meetings with the purpose to review the last shift performances and plan for the upcoming ones. During the meetings important notes were written on a whiteboard. This strategy enabled for everyone to see the KPI’s (=Key Performance Indicator) versus targets on the board.
Continue with weekly meetings
In addition to the morning meetings, I introduced the weekly meetings. This meeting had a similar structure as the morning meetings. However, this one was exclusive to the highest management on a weekly basis. The most important KPIs were displayed trend-wise versus the targets.
The responsible manager explained per discipline what actions were planned for improvement. Additionally, he/she mentioned what he/she needed from the management to reach the predefined goals. The last part was the one that management struggled with the most: setting priorities to tasks. Getting management to effectively support the change? and then function as a result-oriented team was a tremendous challenge. Multiple team workshops were needed to get the team dynamic I was satisfied with.
An efficient communication model
Because of this, managers were properly informed about the current and past developments of the shifts. With this information, they were able to properly schedule the morning meetings and plan future targets. Additionally, the managers were able to provide constructive criticism and feedback to operators. Action(s) that needed a longer period than one day to be solved were postponed to the weekly meeting. This efficient communication model played a significant role in improving the communication across departments.
Thanks to the introduction of a result-oriented communication model in which not only the KPIs were shown on three different levels, but also the necessary actions were defined to eliminate losses. Actions and a step by step improvement process were implemented. Continuous improvement was achieved by systematically pinpointing the actions and thus taking the right decisions. The losses became smaller which led to an improved financial result. Most importantly: the confidence of both operators and management grew significantly.
The best practice how to implement a successful change plan:
- Ensure that local management has been trained to get the necessary competences to successfully implement changes
- Ensure that the morning and weekly meetings will be coached by an experienced consultant for a long time
- Ensure maximum feedback-communication of outcomes from the morning and weekly meetings to the work floor in terms of KPI’s graphics, etc.
- Ensure that people do listen when they intend to understand. As Franklin Covey said: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”
Peter Kauw, interim change manager, shared his track-record of 39 years on change management in the food and packaging business in a three-part blog series. He worked 27 years at a dairy company and eight years in a can packaging manufactory. From this, he gained extensive experience in change management focused on operations. In recent years, he also worked as an Interim Manager in SME companies.
We want to thank Peter Kauw for his time and sharing his knowledge on change management. Can you relate to Peter’s story, or do you have a different way of dealing with change management? Please, share your story with us via firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +31 (0)630076674.