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  • Writer's pictureMark Myers

An Effective IEP Can be the Most Powerful Change Management Tool You Have

Updated: Feb 20

Need to gain ground quickly in changing your safety culture? Transform your internal evaluation program (IEP) into a highly effective change management and safety promotion tool.

As we may know, internal evaluation programs (IEP) are not static events. Once an IEP is effectively scoped and in place, you quickly realize that this tool can continually sample, monitor, and evaluate, the safety pulse and quality production of your employees. One of its greatest outputs is gathering measurable data on current company culture, conformity, and employee sentiment throughout all levels of your organization!

So, what happens when employee sentiment and company culture begins to drift away from policy? Or, senior leadership wants to embark on a large company-wide change management initiative? How can a safety manager help enact change management tasks and what SQMS tools are available to help senior management succeed?

A classic organizational change article, “10 Principles of Change Management,” originally published by Booz & Company, lists key soft skill requirements and processes to successfully affect change in any size organization. (Note: This article of soft skill change management should be bookmarked on every safety manager’s browser!)

These principles have the backdrop of a three-part change management implementation strategy:

  1. Confront reality and articulate a convincing need for change

  2. Demonstrate faith that the company has a viable future and the right leadership to get there

  3. Provide a road map to guide behavior and decision-making tools

Given this strategy, a well-managed IEP becomes the right tactical tool to deliver on a company’s change management objectives. Effective IEP evaluators are trained in identifying and understanding particular processes and department functions and then having the willingness to redesign and improve a policy, process, or procedure. They are also trained in the necessary soft skills to assure the changes are adopted by key employees and thrive.

An SQMS manager’s primary objective becomes using a well-designed IEP and trained evaluator team to help senior management worry less about how the work force will react, how they can get their teams to safely work together, and how they will be able to lead their employees while retaining their unique values and sense of identity.

Utilizing an IEP to accomplish the 10 principles of change management “During large transformation efforts, strategic advisors conventionally focus their attention on devising strategic and tactical business plans. But, to succeed, they also must have an intimate and objective understanding of the human side of change management – the alignment of culture, values, people and their behaviors, to encourage desired results. “(Jones, Aguirre, Calderone) [i]

SMS Manager Objective 1: Create a targeted IEP and staff with hybrid evaluators

IEP review content can be designed and deployed to assess employee awareness, and compare existing policy, practices, and structure against new corporate initiatives. Design and scope IEP questions that are shaped around management’s new organizational change objectives. For example, collect IEP observations by asking managers:

  • What elements (of the new initiative) currently exist, are modeled, or are being challenged within the department?

  • What are key barriers preventing implementation?

  • What measures will be needed to define success?

SMS Manager Objective 2: Train hybrid evaluators in assessing, coaching, training, and facilitating organizational change

Change management can be best affected using hybrid evaluation team members (internal and external monitors) who work alongside each other to facilitate, train, coach and deliver just-in-time technical advice, best practices, and senior management’s missive of change. With proper interpersonal soft skill training, they can easily take responsibility for one or more of the change management components and promote into personalized compelling human stories. (Note: this is not the time to deploy the compliance cop audit team!)

SMS Manager Objective 3: Integrate the 10 principles of change management into the administration, performance, control, and reporting aspects of a structured IEP.

1. Address the “human side” systematically. … “A formal approach for managing change — beginning with the leadership team and then engaging key stakeholders and leaders — should be developed early and adapted often as change moves through the organization. This demands as much data collection and analysis, planning, and implementation discipline as does a redesign of strategy, systems, or processes….”

  • Concentrate IEP evaluator efforts on listening, observing, and responding to employee behaviors, while translating their change management objectives into “teachable moments” and creating compelling human stories.

2. Start at the top. …” The leaders themselves must embrace the new approaches first, both to challenge and to motivate the rest of the institution. They must speak with one voice and model the desired behaviors…”

  • Train / calibrate IEP evaluators to observe, interview, and capture desired senior leadership motives, value statements, and activities while conducting IEP interviews and meetings throughout the organization.

3. Involve every layer. …”Change efforts must include plans for identifying leaders throughout the company and pushing responsibility for design and implementation down, so that change “cascades” through the organization…

  • Scope the IEP correctly, providing adequate time and resources to conduct change management interviews and meetings at department levels.

  • Train evaluators to identify natural leaders within a group who can help the change transition occur.

4. Make the formal case. …”Individuals are inherently rational and will question to what extent change is needed, whether the company is headed in the right direction, and whether they want to commit personally to making change happen. They will look to the leadership for answers…”

  • Arm the hybrid evaluation team with fact sheets, executive vision statements, and personal requests that can be “translated” and delivered in the type of approach that matters to the individual.

5. Create Ownership. …”Ownership is often best created by involving people in identifying problems and crafting solutions. It is reinforced by incentives and rewards….”

  • Develop succinct feedback channels that allow front-line voices be heard by senior leadership to understand the degree of ownership and personal challenges it might take to obtain buy-in.

6. Communicate the message. …”Communications flow in from the bottom and out from the top, and are targeted to provide employees the right information at the right time and to solicit their input and feedback. Often this will require over-communication through multiple, redundant channels.”

  • Train the hybrid team to accurately capture the voice of employee and their position. Understand message timing and repetition may be required (with support of department managers) to assure two-way flow of information.

7. Assess the cultural landscape.”Successful change programs pick up speed and intensity as they cascade down, making it critically important that leaders understand and account for culture and behaviors at each level of the organization. Companies often make the mistake of assessing culture either too late or not at all…”

  • Promote the IEP tool’s capacity to collect current culture assessments and provide preliminary monitoring and evaluation data as a baseline to help senior management craft its initial change management strategy.

  • Create cultural assessments and behavioral observation thresholds, to be compiled by evaluators as part of department interviews.

8. Address culture explicitly. …”Leaders should be explicit about the culture and underlying behaviors that will best support the new way of doing business, and find opportunities to model and reward those behaviors. This requires developing a baseline, defining an explicit end-state or desired culture, and devising detailed plans to make the transition.”

  • Train IEP Evaluators to “walk their talk” of management’s desired end state. Ensure the evaluators are transparent enough to describe to employees “why” the evaluation team is behaving a certain way.

9. Prepare for the unexpected. …” Effectively managing change requires continual reassessment of its impact and the organization’s willingness and ability to adopt the next wave of transformation. Fed by real data from the field and supported by information and solid decision-making processes, change leaders can then make the adjustments necessary to maintain momentum and drive results.”

  • Promote one of the IEPs key benefit to collect organizational behavior performance and gives senior management accurate organizational insights.

10. Speak to the individual as well as the organization. …”Team leaders should be as honest and explicit as possible. People will react to what they see and hear around them and need to be involved in the change process. Highly visible rewards, such as promotion, recognition, and bonuses, should be provided as dramatic reinforcement for embracing change. Sanction or removal of people standing in the way of change will reinforce the institution’s commitment.”

  • Structure IEP department evaluation tools, techniques, and documents to be as transparent as possible. Ensure that the hybrid team facilitates and promotes the degree of senior leadership visibility necessary to put the employee at ease while adding credibility to the IEP evaluation process.

  • Measure frequently and monitor reporting trends. Utilize safety and quality report rates, process improvement suggestions, and personal safety reports to build indicators of the change process.

Most leaders contemplating change know that people matter. It is all too tempting, however, to dwell on the plans and processes, which don’t talk back and don’t respond emotionally, than to face the more difficult, and more critical, human issues. The proper use of an IEP and key evaluators should help dispel some of the mystery of successfully mastering the “soft” side of change, give documented visibility to measurable success, and assure a complete change management process is deployed across the entire organization.


[i] Jones, J, Aguirre,D, Calderone, M, 10 principles of change management, Organizations & People, April 15, 2004. www.



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