Transition monitoring teams are nothing new. William Bridges spoke of them in his book Managing Transitions and Jeannie Duck, author of The Change Monster, also highlighted the value these teams can bring. So why don’t more companies use these highly effective and engaging teams to assist in their organization transformations?
I believe there are two reasons at play. Some individuals believe change is best-managed top down and that there is no need to move away from the old school way of managing change: announce and advance. I am hoping this is a small population. The other individuals, I believe, just don’t know how to effectively define, establish and charter a transition monitoring team. If you are part of the latter, then we can help!
A transition monitoring team (TMT) is a formally established team that provides insight, feedback and support during times of change. Another way of describing a TMT is a stable, change-specific focus group, with consistent membership and a clear mandate. In my experience, they can be very powerful, and tremendously engaging.
Below are the key steps you need to consider to effectively harness the power of a TMT to support your change:
- Choose your team wisely (and don’t take the easy way out). Consider inviting participants from all levels of the organization. You will need those informal influencers, some “moveable middles”, some early adopters and some less than enthusiastic change agents. Having a full array from skeptics to zealots will ensure your “focus group” is providing the right insight and feedback. Someone recently asked me if we chose just the early adopters for a TMT we established (which we didn’t) and I saw this as a clear sign that involvement in a TMT can make change agents out of even the most resistant employee.
- Onboard the team effectively: Like any team, onboarding is critical. In my most recent TMT, we spent two full meetings onboarding the team. This included providing skills training on managing change, revisiting the transformational goals, sharing insight from our Change Readiness Survey, discussing ways of working and defining the commitment required from each member. This allowed us to quickly become effective and aligned.
- Provide a clear mandate and team charter: Many TMTs struggle with this but being clear and specific on the mandate is a critical measure of success. TMTs can play different roles. The most effective I have found is as a sounding board (to test new communications), as a feedback tool (to gather FAQs and understand the mood of the employee population) and as a comms resource (to assist in the execution of your communication and engagement plan). The last point is critical. Assisting in the execution of your communication and engagement plan provides meaningful work for the TMT members as well as learning opportunities all the while delivering extra resources to support your organization change.
- Provide the right tools to be successful: If you want to fully leverage your TMT you need to provide them the tools and skills to support you. For example, we recently created a change conversation toolkit and ways of working discussion guide to help our TMT members lead departmental conversations focused on managing individuals through the change curve. The training we delivered provided this TMT the skills to successfully engage all employees thereby reducing anxiety around the transformation.
- Don’t let them go until you are “well done”: All too often change initiatives are left to ‘finish themselves’ and can become unmanned disappointments. If you have successfully built and onboarded a team, that has a clear mandate and the skills and tools to assist you don’t let them go too early! You want to ensure behavioural change is well underway. Consider reducing the number of meetings if you must, but hold on for as long as you can to ensure real change is complete.
If you are struggling with pushing change through on your own, take my advice and engage a TMT to ensure you have the internal support you need to manage your change.