Use change management metrics to explain the why, how and what of a change.
Change management metrics monitor and track the progress of a change. If enough employees adopt the change or enough customers are satisfied, then a change may be considered “successful.”
Metrics are also used to demonstrate the value of change management. Whether measuring compliance, engagement, satisfaction, acceptance or any number of indicators, successful results can demonstrate effective change management.
These are both reasons to invest time and resources in monitoring change management metrics, but there is an additional benefit: metrics can describe the why, how and what of a change. Communicating the connections between business performance goals and changes in behavior can clarify the reasons for a change and the desired outcomes.
With the support of change practitioners, leaders are responsible for identifying the metrics that are driving the need for change. They identify the metrics that determine when the change is considered successful. Leaders must also be able to translate the metrics to help people understand the need to change.
These two steps – identifying and translating – will help overcome the typical challenges related to helping people affected by the change understand the why, what and how associated with the project.
Common challenges of metrics
Not enough information to set clear goals
Metrics are indicators that can be measured and evaluated to determine the progress of completing goals. If there is not enough information to select suitable or SMART goals, it is naturally difficult to identify the best metrics.
There may be limited clarity on the current state or the desired future state, or there may be knowledge gaps in determining suitable metrics. This is not the fault of leaders or practitioners, but any lack of information needs to be acknowledged alongside a plan to remedy the challenge.
The individuals responsible for determining goals may be hesitant – for personal or professional reasons – to set stretch goals, or they may not have enough information to discern between easy or difficult thresholds.
The metrics are not meaningful
Metrics are useful when the goals, indicators and thresholds are clear, known and regularly reviewed. If they are not meaningful or useful, then it is simply additional work for little benefit.
Information that is not reported on or analyzed can result in metrics fatigue. Both leaders and employees are busy, and everyone appreciates their contributions to be used.
In some organizations, measuring and reporting metrics is simply not an important part of the corporate culture. It is just not the way that things are done, so effectively using metrics may rely on a shift in culture.
Even if there are clear goals and suitable metrics, leaders need to orient their projects around processes to track and report the selected metrics. This approach may be incompatible with the leadership style they are used to, and accountability is necessary to use the metrics.
How metrics contribute to achieving goals
Metrics consist of indicators (what is measured) and thresholds (the amount or degree of these indicators that is considered a success or failure ).
Change management metrics can show the why, how and what of a change. They measure actions and behaviors, which contribute to desired outcomes and business performance goals.
Business performance goals
Business performance goals describe answer the question: What do we want to achieve?
Examples of business performance goals:
- Grow revenue by 10%
- Grow business by 5% next year
- Increase the number of income sources
- Increase profits by 20%
- Reduce waste by 10% next year
- Reduce time for product development
Operations outcomes are the how. They are the specific actions, programs or changes that will contribute to meeting the business performance goal. The outcomes describe what is needed to achieve a goal.
Examples of outcomes:
- Introduce a new product
- Expand into new regions
- Reduce the costs of production
- Complete a strategic acquisition
- Update accounting software
Change management metrics
Change management metrics describe what behaviors are necessary to enable the outcomes.
What specific behaviors do we need to change?
Examples of change management metrics:
- Rate of adoption of new technology
- Employee satisfaction
- Rates of competency
- Completed project according to the timeline
- Amount of support tickets from customers
Depending on the project's scale, the specific outcomes and goals may shift to a different level of the pyramid. There are also metrics related to business performance goals and outcomes, which demonstrate the progress of meeting the goals.
Connecting and translating metrics
The strength of useful metrics is that they illustrate what business performance goals look like on-the-ground. It is the role of leaders to connect specific change management metrics with the outcomes and goals. Not only can metrics confirm the progress of a change, but they describe how individual actions contribute to the business goals.
Identify goals, outcomes and metrics
Communicating and applying metrics is only useful when the goals, outcomes and metrics are clear and known. This is typically done at the early stages of a project, but metrics may evolve as more information is known.
To gain the acceptance and adoption by the people affected by the change, it is critical for them to understand the metrics driving the need for change and what outcomes are desired.
Translate and connect metrics
People naturally want to do a good job and achieve the targets. But they need to know what the metrics mean – to their daily work and the big picture.
Employee satisfaction, for example, only shows one half of the story. Why is it important for employees to be satisfied? Or is it even necessary for employees to be satisfied or is compliance sufficient? Leaders translate and connect metrics to what they mean to business goals and the case for change. Connecting the dots eases this critical communications element.
Track, report and adjust
When new information comes to light, it is an opportunity to review assumptions and progress. It can be an ongoing process to identify, communicate and monitor change management metrics.
As with any ongoing process, leaders and employees must know their responsibilities and be held accountable to follow through. Change management metrics should be seen as a chance to better describe the why, how and what of a change – and the progress everyone is making to achieve the goals. ■