Change management literature and guidebooks are a dime a dozen. Models and consulting services as well. After all, the origins of organizational development to explore ways to improve performance go back almost 100 years (USA, 1930s). At the time, Röthlisberger and Mayo were conducting research at Western Electric, a utility company, and discovered that employee motivation and interest in what employees want have a greater impact on performance improvement than, for example, changes in working conditions. Ten years later (1940s), Kurt Lewin presented the first theory of change management, which was later modified and further developed by John P. Kotter. Since the 1970s, almost all Western business enterprises have seen change as a necessary part of their corporate culture and have committed their managers to actively driving change where necessary. In general, it can be said that change management is now part of the standard repertoire of large and medium-sized companies. The implementation is carried out either by means of selected models and theories or on the basis of the company’s individual ideas and experiences.
The difficulty now arises at the point at which the “hard” success is to be measured. So what do these measures really do for us? Costs are easy to measure, activities too, but actual successes? Many companies primarily measure operational activities, for example, the number of communication measures carried out, such as workshops, dialog events or enabling sessions. But has that really made a difference? Sustainably changed? Have the measures implemented improved or at least stabilized the company’s business success? Do the change management activities influence the qualitative and quantitative business results of the company? How can the costs and time spent on change management be justified?
As a rule, the results of the employee survey are used for this purpose and evaluated factors such as leadership behavior or general employee satisfaction are cited. In and of itself a very good idea, but whether and to what extent there is a causal relationship between the change management measures and the survey results has not yet been proven.
Those who understand the influencing factors and interrelationships of change management on the business outcomes of the company can shape them and set the right impulses for successful change. This is where the people analytics discipline comes in (also called HR analytics, human capital analytics or workforce analytics). People analytics describes the analysis of a company’s human capital data using IT-based descriptive, visual and statistical methods. Machine learning and artificial intelligence can also be applied here.
People Analytics helps unleash the full power of a change initiative and drive performance leaps. Currently, companies lack the skills to handle people data properly and use it for the benefit of the company and its employees. Furthermore, there are uncertainties regarding data protection and data security when using people data. This affects small and medium-sized companies as well as large corporations. Since, in our experience, personal analysis is not at all necessary for examining the business impact of change management efforts, but rather anonymized or pseudonymized, aggregated data is quite sufficient, data protection and data security are not showstoppers here, but issues that must be adequately considered during analytics project preparations.
Okay, and then where do we go from here in concrete terms? A very useful model is the application of the “Advanced People Analytics Chain”, which provides assistance in identifying evidence-based links between people processes and business outcomes. As a result of science-based modeling, interrelationships and leverage effects between processes (People Processes), capabilities (Workforce Capabilities), performance drivers (Performance Drivers) and business outcomes (Business Outcome) can be identified, analyzed and specifically tested and influenced for the benefit of employees and the company.