Short-Changing Change, Part II

Nov 9, 2005

Joe Santana

So how did you do in last month's change management quiz? Did you find room for improvement in your practices?

Well, regardless of whether you scored high or low, I trust you will find a great deal of value in this segment on best practices for changing behavior and driving business impact.

As mentioned last month, most of the advice in this section has been part of the “secret sauce” behind Wachovia’s recent success in transforming their mortgage and refinancing loan transaction processing from a reactive to a proactive approach.

Essentially, Wachovia’s goal is to be one of the top three providers in every market where they complete and to double their current productivity. To achieve this, the company has successfully built and implemented a standardized mortgage fulfillment platform that is scalable for growth and designed to deliver a superior customer experience that results in deepened client relationships.

When I spoke with Tom Wood, director of Operations for Wachovia's Mortgage Corp. he was quick to point out that this program’s success was driven primarily through effective culture and behavior change. In fact, according to Wood, 20% of the budget for this massive project was invested in people-centric interventions designed to change the way team members worked.

So what were some of the specific key behavior and performance change practices they employed in this project that lead to its success in producing business impact?

Secret Sauce

Here are the five key ingredients of what I like to call “the secret sauce of behavior change:”

Perform a skill assessment and prepare development plans. Once you determine how effected employees need to work under your future platform, perform an in-depth assessment of the current level of competency in key skill areas. Use the results of these assessments to build personal development plans for all of the employees impacted by the change in technology and practice.

Design blended training solutions to fill competency gaps. In order to attain the most efficient levels of rapid knowledge transfer with minimal interruption of work schedules, develop blended solutions that include Web-based recorded programs, Web-based live events and in-person instructor-led learning sessions as well as using any other appropriate training vehicles.

In the case of Wachovia, they employed Web-based training for general knowledge transfer and classroom training to go over scenarios that highlighted how the new knowledge would be put into practice.

Develop a coaching plan to reinforce the new behaviors learned in the training program. As mentioned in last month's column, studies show that participants of training programs generally forget 85% of what they’ve learned within the first 30 days of completing a program—unless their is some form of follow-on support.

It’s also well known that performing work in a new way requires more effort and thought that simply doing things the way they’ve always been done.

With these two facts in mind, it becomes clear that in order to change how people behave and perform we need to do more than just “teach them a new way and give them the tools.” A well-developed coaching plan fills this need by providing support and reinforcement leading to quicker adoption and long-lasting, real performance changes.

Wachovia addressed this component by setting up a “SWAT team” of coaches assigned to support and drive the new behaviors in the recently trained workforce for the first three-to-four weeks after the implementation.

Develop a means of providing regular performance feedback. In order to continue to encourage and improve performance in a new behavior, it is imperative that you provide employees with a reliable means of measuring their effectiveness in executing these new behaviors; as well as comparing where they stand relative to both goals and other performers.

Wachovia filled this need by setting up weekly balanced scorecards that showed expectations and performance by role and by team.

Plan on how you will reward the new behaviors and performance. I never cease to be surprised at how many organizations re-structure and change what they want people to do, but fail to change their compensation and reward systems in a manner that aligns and supports the new behaviors they desire.

As part of preparing for a change, take a good look at the types of behaviors your compensation system rewards and if needed make adjustments.

Once you go through the initial process of setting up this five-point change process around a project, you can use it to continue to shape and develop the program as it matures and adapts to new conditions.

At Wachovia, for example, Wood tells me that as the new mortgage and refinance loan process evolves, upgrades flow smoothly from the project team through the SWAT team to every employee, thus maintaining a continuous alignment between performance and the ever developing system.

It seems that with the pressure to produce business measurable impact, IT organizations in companies like Wachovia are getting ahead of the contest. I invite you to join them as front-runners in the race to turn your IT investments into enterprise-wide, impacting results.

Joe Santana is an IT organizational development specialist and thought-leader and co-author of "Manage IT." He can be reached at or via his Web site


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