The Most Important People in the Process

You can’t change process without changing people…2015-04-26 08.09.19 (2)

Jennifer was inspired by the positive consumer response when she heard of a change her competitor made in their account management process. She immediately asked her supervisors about implementing the change with their teams. Wanting to appear as team-players, they said they could easily make that adjustment in their own account management process.

  • The supervisors researched a bit about how the competitor was implementing this idea.
  • They also spoke to customers of the competitor to learn more about how they viewed it.
  • They worked with their finance team to ensure the concept could be supported by their company’s software and financial drivers.
  • They then created Methods & Procedure learning documents to clearly outline the new process for their own employees.
  • During the few weeks it took to create this new process, there was much internal ‘marketing’ to encourage excitement with the frontline employees who managed the accounts.
  • Because of the simplicity of the process, the training and launch segments were the least complex part of the project, and they were completed quickly.

The supervisors felt they had completed Jennifer’s request and sat back to measure the results. No positive customer comments or expected financial results came.

A couple of weeks after implementation, Jennifer began casual conversations with the frontline employees who were supposed to using the new process. She heard responses like, “We think our customers would love it,” “I would like to do that for our customers,” “I think it’s a great idea.” Confused, she and the supervisors met with a few of the top performers and asked specific questions such as how often they used the process and how the customers responded to it. The leaders quickly learned that the employees had only used the process a couple of times. They had stopped using it when they realized that the time it added to their customer interactions lowered their overall performance results. They said they had tried to voice this concern in the training, but it was downplayed by the trainer.

When the supervisors continued exploring the ideas that the high-performing group offered, they adjusted the process to include several of their ideas and re-launched the effort. The business results were better than the competitor’s, and because the high-performers became peer advocates for the rest of the employees, the new process was used consistently with customers.

 Reality: The people who do the job know the job best.


  • The people who do the job may not always know the best way the job should be done, but they are always the best source for learning how the job is actually being done.
  • Go looking for problems before the launch… you can’t fix what you can’t see!
  • Before introducing changes, observe employees at all performance levels to see how the change will impact both their adoption of the change and the employee’s performance results.
  • Build trust in an issue-escalation process so management remains aware of obstacles and so employees will continually share ‘work-arounds’ they create to meet customer needs.
  • When possible, solicit employee perspective at various stages when developing a change.