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Richard Heffer H800 Design Narrative

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Richard Heffer
4 April 2013

Title

Change Management Programme for a local Fire and Rescue Service FRS Managers in 2012.

 

Narrator

As the Training Delivery Manager I was responsible for identifying the potential training needs across the organisation, scoping the training objectives, issuing the programme scope out to external suppliers evaluating their training design responses and then buying in the most suitable provider.

 

Situation

Describe the physical, social and intentional factors that define the design space, e.g. where and when did this occur? In what kind of space? Who were the key actors, and what were the relations between them? What were the beliefs and desires that shaped their interaction?

The main driver was the cuts that were being muted for FRS as part of the budget reductions imposed by national government.  I considered that the organisation was developing a climate of fear and uncertainty around the implications of the budget reductions.  My attendance at senior managers briefings scoping of possible budget reductions highlighted to me a sense that the managers, in what was a stable and well-funded organisation, seemed to lack the managerial agility and mind-sets to accept change in the organisation and to work to achieve the change.  Thus I wanted to provide a generic management package to provide managers with the confidence to undertake change in an organisation and to understand the difficulties and possible approaches.

Task

To provide NFRS with a better understanding of management actions to bring change in. To move managers away from a perceived hostile approach to impending changes and to give them an awareness of how to deal with the positive and negative elements of change in the organisation.

Actions

List the actions you took in chronological order. Note their effects – both expected and unexpected. Highlight any obstacles you encountered, and explain how you tried to overcome them.

 

Identified initial requirement

Initial attempt t to sell the requirement to strategic managers – this resulted in hostility to the idea from own manager and HRD strategic manager which effectively stopped the programme for several months.

Course went into abeyance until a change of senior management.  Highlighted requirement to my new manager and gained agreement for the programme to run and be funded.

Thus, based largely on my own knowledge of Change Management issues I scoped the training outcomes:

What is change management?

The main themes of organisational change

Main Models of organisational change

 

Applicable tools of change management:  Measuring current state, deciding upon future stare.  Getting from current to desired future state.

Factors for successful change

Why Change fails.

Importance of 'cultural web' and organisational paradigms.

Impact of change.

Behavioural and psychological characteristics during change.  How people respond to and are affected by change.

Communicating change and importance of selling the benefits.

Managing the process of change.

Managing change as a project.  Managing Change as a programme.

 

I forwarded the training outline to 3 external training providers inviting their responses on how they would meet the programme definition, and to provide costings for its delivery.  I had discounted e-learning in favour of face to face training, primarily based on the need to encourage attitudinal change amongst managers.

 

I was disappointed by returned responses from 2 providers which pointed the contract towards the company that I thought would be my first choice.  The contract for the training was then set.

On the logistics Identified staff to attend, arranged dates for attendance, negotiated the dates and costings with external organisation.

 The course programme ran and was attended by most NFRs senior managers.

Results

List the expected and unexpected outcomes of your actions. To what degree did you meet your objectives? What additional outcomes did you engender? Provide evidence to back your claims

Expected outcomes were to provide managers with a working knowledge of the issues, theories and practicalities around change management, as examples psychological models around the impact of change, the hidden organisational structures that can affect change initiatives, project planning and management fundamentals to bring about change etc.  What I wanted to achieve was to challenge what I perceived as a group negative mind-set amongst my fellow managers towards the impending changes in the organisation by providing concrete knowledge tools and understanding around the subject.

 

I am not sure about how well I met the objectives of the training design project.  This is because I had an outward objective of the provision of training to allow managers to be better equipped for change initiatives and a hidden, inchoate desire to shake them out of a passive victim state as I perceived it; a self-imposed attempt at attitudinal change across the management cohort. What we did not do is measure the delegate responses.  The external training provider provided the usual ‘happy sheets’ which pointed that the delegates found the course useful and enjoyed the sessions in general.  However, these were probably due to the skill of the experienced trainer in being able to cover most if not all awkward questions raised by delegates.  His skill in adjusting the training to the audience kept the delegates usually happy.

 

What I did not do is measure the training according to any training performance standards, I produced the objectives and commissioned the training but failed to measure the result, other than level one initial reactions and anecdotal evidence.  

Reflections

Reflect on your experience. What transferable insights did you gain?

 On reflection, the design, development and delivery project for this training was partly a personal crusade to bring in such training I though was needed by managers.  It was not based on a defined organisation requirement, rather being based on my own ‘gut’ feeling.  Thus, I did not objectively measure the success or failure of the course.  It seemed successful and all the indicators were that it was reasonably well received across the managers who attended and I left it at that.  It was only when the Finance manager, in passing, stated that she was unsure about the value of the training that I realised I had no quantifiable measurement of success or failure other than my own feel-good factor.

 

Allied to this was the fact that the much anticipated major change across the organisation did not occur as originally planned and much trumpeted. Thus I had attempted to provide a possible cultural and attitudinal change to meet the challenges of significant organisational restructuring that did not really happen.  Thus managers were equipped (perhaps) with the skill, attitudes and knowledge, but were unable to use them as anticipated.

 

From all this, I would ensure that a major training project meets defined organisational objectives, can be and is properly measured against its impact and value across the cohort.  Designing a course to fit your conceptions and attitudes around a subject area is easy, designing a course that does what it needs to do to benefit the organisation and to measure that is much harder.

 

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