Change Management Methodologies Look at Reinforcement Differently

Posted by Paula Alsher on Fri, May 18, 2012 @ 10:14 AM

"So tell me what makes the AIM (Accelerating Implementation Methodology) change management methodology different from (fill in the blank)?"  That's a question we get all the time. 

One of the major differences is the importance that AIM places on reinforcement.  Reinforcement is the control switch for getting sustained adoption for your change.  Reinforcement is more important than just about any other element of a change management methodology, except possibily for sponsorship.  Change Management Reinforcent Plan

Yet it's often given little or not attention!

When we talk about reinforcement, we are referring to the three ways that the behavioral changes (the behaviors we seek to see) that are embedded in any organizational change are encouraged:

  • positive consequences
  • negative consequences (immediate and predictable)
  • making adoption of the new behaviors easier, and making the old ways harder

There was a perfect example today from a client who was complaining about not getting employees to come to work wearing the newly required uniform.  What to do?  Send the employee home if he or she isn't wearing the uniform!  That's an immediate, negative consequence and it tells everyone else that this manager and the company takes the new policy seriously.

The reinforcement strategy for any organizational change needs to be thought through and there must be implementation-specific reinforcements in place.  One of the "speed bumps" that gets in the way of adoption is that the rewards reinforce the present state, not the desired state.

Remember, too, that you can't rely on the formal performance management system as the driver of your reinforcement strategy because it will always lag behind the implementation.  And it's designed to reinforce what you have now-- the same reinforcements will encourage the same behavior.

Reinforcement management is not just about performance appraisals or pay.  If you want to get sustained adoption at speed, then your change management methodology must put a heavy emphasis on reinforcement strategy and planning.

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Topics: Change Management Methodology, Reinforcement, Comparing Change Management Methodologies