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Avoid the Training Hammer when Implementing Change
David Chaudron, PhD
Many of us are frustrated when helping our organizations implement organizational change. Assuming we get top-level support, and institute training on quality concepts and techniques. However, we find (or will find if you haven't gotten that far) that we meet with a great deal of resistance.
This might be because training is not the right implementation strategy. Training works when the causes of problems have to do with the lack of skill or knowledge to perform a task. Certainly, few Americans know statistics, QFD or experimentation well enough for today's quality-minded company: but if poor knowledge or skill is not the cause, training is not the solution. Someone once said, " If you give someone a hammer, everything is a nail." Some other possible causes that block implementation are described below:
Though employees may have the ability to perform a task, they may not get anything for doing so. Organizations may also verbally promote teamwork, but only reward individuals in terms of money or public recognition. Individuals who emphasize short-term production goals are promoted, sending signals to all in the organization.
Organizational structure and communication
Belonging to one organization vs another can change employees' loyalties, priorities and who they communicate with. Because of these factors, people may not understand or feel they need to follow vague orders from up above (or from another organization) to improve quality and customer service.
Task, technology and information
Some jobs in some organizations require employees to work repetitively at a task that is a fragment of something more important. As a result, workers cannot easily picture the ultimate product of their labor. They may blindly follow (or not follow) techniques taught to them without knowing why they do so. Work may need to be restructured so that work groups work on a whole product, rather than individuals working on an assembly line. In addition, the usual information they receive as part of their work may not give them the cues needed to perform quality- related tasks.
Policies, procedures and methods
Employees can actively contradict what they have learned in the classroom because of what they believe policy to be - regardless of what is actually the case. These perceptions must change, or the policy. Who knows, they might be right!
Personality, power and role
If employees perceive that a change, any change, will make them lose power, prestige, or a role in the organization they covet, they will resist it. Suppose that a work group moves toward self-inspection. This may mean that the role of policeman that the quality inspector enjoyed will change, if not disappear.