"The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will."
Keep employees abreast of changes.
Alert executives to your achievements.
Broadcast success stories to the media.
Have we stressed enough the importance of marketing? Your transformation process cannot have the kind of phenomenal success that Rockwell Collins continues to see if you don't constantly and aggressively market your project. It's not enough to do well; you need to brag about it. If you want people to be impressed with what you've done, shout it from the rooftops. Take your successes out to the company and broadcast what you've accomplished. Failures get plastered all over the bathroom walls of most organizations, but the successes are buried in the company bulletin, so you're going to have to market yourself ”nobody else will do it for you.
Communicating our success stories has always been an integral part of the strategic process. It is a critical element of the change-management process, and it's tied inextricably to our team's ability to effect change in the Rockwell Collins culture. Our team is always communicating with leaders and end users in an attempt to win their support and demonstrate the value of Project Oasis. We do this personally by constantly updating and delivering the presentation; learning consultants regularly refresh course offerings, and the learning and development team frequently hosts giveaways, sends e- mails , and writes articles for the newsletters. All of these efforts, which take up a considerable part of our team's daily lives, are aimed at converting the population of Rockwell Collins to a learning-organization mindset.
You can't just throw change at people, and you can't expect them to understand the value of change unless you show it to them. When we show employees and executives our statistics and tell them our success stories, we communicate to them that this project will happen whether they climb on board or not. The goal of sharing successes is not just to boast, although that is an element of it. Mostly, you do it to prove , anecdotally and statistically, that you are achieving what you set out to accomplish, that this transformation is having significant, positive results within the company, and that everyone is benefiting from it. Through our communication techniques we make it clear that this project is in the company's best interests and that if employees want to continue to thrive as members of Rockwell Collins's team, it's in their best interests as well. If we didn't share these successes we would fail to deliver on the communication aspect of our strategic plan, and converting employees from the old way of learning to the new would be much more difficult.
There are several things you can do to celebrate your successes and maintain a constant stream of communication with end users and executives. To keep the employee population abreast of your latest achievements, make ongoing announcements regarding the day-to-day activities of your team. Use global e-mails and articles on the Web site to make everyone aware of additions or changes to course content, updates in technology, and the addition of new delivery mechanisms. Create a "learning highlights" section online or in your corporate newsletter showcasing new courses or successful end users. By supplying end users with snippets of information, you keep the project foremost in their minds without inundating them with material. They become aware of the program changes and excited about new offerings, and this flow of communication ensures that new content will be taken advantage of quickly. Stagger implementation of new elements to your system so that every month or two you have an exciting reason to make contact with end users.
There will always be a reason to promote your system. If you can't find one, create one. For example, send out annual or biannual surveys to measure end- user reaction to the process, to gather information about changing needs, and to create new volumes of data to support your cause; or offer incentives in the form of gifts or certificates if users take advantage of certain courses or tools in the system. Make them aware of the support structure and reward system you have in place, emphasizing the benefits of taking early advantage of the system. This builds a culture of positive reinforcement. Those who support the system should receive the greatest reward and attention.
At Rockwell Collins, the learning and development team constantly gives away promotional material to show our appreciation and to flood the workplace with the project logo. Participants in pilot tests and subject-matter experts are also generously rewarded with larger gifts such as handheld computers or gift certificates to favorite restaurants . We also lavish them with public praise.
Recently, a small group of employees refused to participate in developing QuickLearns. They have the reputation of being contrarians and tend to take extreme positions on a variety of issues. We could have forced them, through their union leadership, to participate, but we chose another avenue. This group worked the day shift, and the same work was done by another employee who worked nights. The night-shift employee agreed to act as a subject-matter expert for the QuickLearns. The Performance Engineering Group (PEG) created the QuickLearns over a series of four nights, and, at the end, the employee was presented with three separate gift certificates ”from the learning and development team, the consultants, and his manager. We made sure he was given the gift certificates at the end of his shift, just as the recalcitrant co-workers were arriving for their shift. We also made sure he was noisily praised in front of the others by his immediate supervisors for his cooperation and expertise. Instead of punishing the behavior we didn't want, we made sure the behavior we did want was rewarded.
Delivering the presentation to end users, hosting brown-bag lunches, and giving system demos provides end users the chance to acquire new information about the system and get to know you and your team. We constantly update and deliver our presentation, adding the latest statistics on usage rates. This data also comes in handy when the team is confronted with the small percentage of employees who steadfastly refuse to support the project. When they complain that a course doesn't work, we counter with piles of statistics to prove that it does. For example, when the learning and development team recently rolled out three new custom courses, our team received forty e-mails complaining that the courses were confusing and didn't work. But in that same time period, 8,500 people had successfully completed them. Because we gather those statistics, we have a stocked arsenal of weapons with which to fight the negative minority and prove that any problems they have are not with the technology or the courses but with their own computer configuration or cultural obstacles. Usually, they haven't read or followed the on-screen directions, or they've been told by a supervisor to take a given course and they're rebelling in anger at being forced to do something they didn't have any input into.
We don't just ignore their complaints, but we do make sure they understand what the problems are and what the learning and development team is trying to accomplish with the course. Context is critical if you are to win over naysayers. In some cases, pointing out the personal benefits of taking a course or of using e-learning to someone who's never given it a chance is all it takes. It is never our intent to belittle or demean people who complain that a course doesn't work, but with our statistics we can gently help them understand that something else is going on if they're having problems completing a course. Learning consultants work personally with everyone who complains, in order to resolve their problems and convert them to the new learning system.
Along with using statistics to prove our everyday achievements, we target the big victories, the courses that have caused profound changes in the company's ability to meet its goals, and we tell the world. The team broadcasts its triumphs in articles published in the company newsletter, writes stories for national trade magazines, and distributes flyers and posters around the company, reminding people to use the system.
It's important to keep up this flow of information so that employees at every level of the company, from service reps to management, are aware of what you've accomplished. Doing so further secures support for the project from the top and pushes contrarian end users to give in to the change and take advantage of the system.