People and processesChange ManagementSuccessful transformation is a continuous process

Successful transformation is a continuous process

Tracey Blackwell, Strategic Director at South Kesteven Council, shares her views on how to manage people through transformation.

“There’s not one leader in the public sector who hasn’t gone through the process of delivering change within their teams or their organisations,” Tracey Blackwell, Strategic Director at South Kesteven Council told delegates at the recent Civica Exchange Conference in Manchester. “No matter how good the technology is, if it’s a technology-based change, or how much the chief executive or the political leadership want that change to happen, it’s the detail that really matters. The devil is in the detail.”

Tracey continued on to talk about how team members can feel threatened whenever change happens – and how this needs to be managed correctly. And Tracey speaks from experience – last year South Kesteven became the first district council in the UK to adopt a form of analytics technology that saves money, identifies service improvements and has the potential to generate a revenue income for the authority.

“People will be doing jobs that they’ve always done, that they’ve invested in and improved their processes in. To hear that technology is taking threatening to impact this and how virtual workers will be taking over – even if it’s just part of their processes – makes them uncomfortable. Excellent leadership is therefore required at all levels to help people through a period of change that’s undoubtedly scary.”

Tracey added that this involves great communication – and involving people in the process of transformation from the outset.

“We really need to ensure we’re embracing customer views but, equally, we have to embrace the views of our employees. They need to be involved right from the outset, so they understand what customers value, because some of the processes don’t need to be changed – they need to be stopped! Just because we’ve been doing something for 30 years doesn’t mean it’s still relevant or required.

“There are lots of examples where staff and teams will want to hang on to their traditional ways of working. So, we need everybody to be involved from the beginning so that they can understand their value, where their role fits in and what change means for them and how they will be integral to the organisation going forward. Let’s get people involved in the design of services, let them listen to feedback and, of course, to have a forum to provide their own thoughts too, continuously through the process.”

Tracey concluded by saying change should be viewed as an ongoing, continual process in order to succeed.

“I think we need to see change projects as marathons, not sprints. Transformation is with us – there’s no stopping it – we can’t go back, but if we view change as a constant we’ll be able to smooth the journey. We should view organisational transformation as a constant process of evolution, and technology is just one element of that.”

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