Change Management Methodology: Behavioral Objectives are Key

Posted by Paula Alsher on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 @ 10:37 AM

One of the most common questions we get from clients around Defining the Change in the AIM methodology is to explain what we mean by "human objectives."  Let's try and take the mystery out of human objectives once and for all! Change Management is the Key to Success

Remember that there are multiple success measures for any change, whether it is a simple change or a transformational change:

1.  Was it delivered on time?

2.  Was it delivered on budget?

3.  Were the technical objectives of the change met?

4.  Were the business objectives of the change met?

5.  Were the human objectives of the change met?

We say that these human objectives are the behaviors we seek to see in the "future state." Still, it can be difficult for project teams and Change Agents to understand what these new behaviors will be. One way to surround this is to imagine it is some time in the future, and you walked into the organization.  What would you see people doing that is different from what they are doing today?

These objectives can be both qualitative and quantitative.  Quantitative objectives are focused on numbers, percentages, etc. Qualitative objectives describe expectations, behaviors, and outcomes.  You should have both types of objectives.

Let's take a simple example:  Say you are implementing a new customer service system and you need to define the objectives for the customer service team members:


TEAM MEMBER 1:  Team Leader

  • Set new performance standards for each team member that are communicated individually two weeks prior to the new system going live
  • Establish reinforcements for adopting the new standards and eliminating the old

TEAM MEMBER 2:  Customer Service Technical Specialist

  • Include a discussion of common customer issues and resolution on the agenda starting in week four of staff meetings
  • Follow up with trainees within 48 hours after training to resolve questions/concerns
  • Involve the customer service representatives in the implementation of the new system

TEAM MEMBER 3:  Customer Service Representative

  • Achieve 50% proficiency using the new system within one week after training and 100% within three weeks after training
  • Use the new service greeting 100% of the time

Why Human Objectives are So Important

You're right if you are thinking these objectives are quite granular and specific.  Actually, that's the point.  If you want to reinforce the new ways of operating, you have to get to a very granular level and define what those new ways actually are.  

Otherwise you are just dealing in generalities and you can't apply reinforcement to generalities.  And it is the application of specific reinforcement to these objectives that will be the key to driving behavior change!


The Relationship Between Process Improvement and Behavioral Objectives

You can install new systems and processes all day long, but nothing will really change unless behaviors change!

This is one of the critical challenges facing "operational excellence" and Lean/Six Sigma organizations that do a terrific job of identifying root cause for problems and developing process improvement solutions.  

You can install the new process into the business, but the challenge remains to get these new processes adopted.  To make that happen, we have to know what the individuals will be doing differently as a result of the new process.  

It's simple in concept, but so often overlooked by organizations-- even those that are applying other principles of change management.  

At the beginning of the project, you may only be able to define the human objectives at a high level, and that's fine.  As the change gets rolled out, though, you need to make sure the human objectives are defined for every Target audience that is impacted by the change.  

Does it take time to do this?  Absolutely!

It's just one of the reasons we say that "implementation is a ferociously resource-consuming activity!" 

Free eBook:  Mini Guide to Installation vs Implementation


Topics: Change Management Methodology, Change Agents, Installation vs. Implementation, Value Realization/ROI