5 questions for Ester Koot

01 November 2021
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"Understanding what drives people is the key to effectively getting employees to contribute to change," says Ester Koot, strategy consultant at Sparkey (part of Motivaction). PROOF talked to Ester about the importance of measurement and how it helps to effectively tailor your employee alignment approach.

1. Why is regular measurement so important in times of change?
"It’s essential to measure where your organisation stands in terms of your change objectives. This enables you to tailor your approach and identify those parts of the organisation that require special attention. We know from research that, in most organisations, employees don’t really understand the case for change or don’t feel a sense of urgency. That gets in the way of effective communication. If people don’t understand the end goal, they don’t know how to contribute. In fact, it’s not unusual for us to send clients back to the drawing board to clarify their change objectives.”

If people don't understand the end goal, they won't know how they can contribute to it."

2. Can you tell us about what you see as a critical part of your research or measurement within organisations?
"In order to be able to adapt your approach, you need to know what motivates your various internal target groups. So your research before or during a change process should map out what drives them. The methodology we use for this is called WorkProfiler. This helps to determine how you can effectively get employees to contribute to change: which information you should share, how much you want them to participate, which tone of voice and interventions you use, and how you manage change resistance.

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3. Can you give an example of how employees' motivations help to shape communications during a change process?
"Take career-oriented employees, for instance. They want to see the change progress and can be impatient. What works well with this kind of target group are elements such as competition. In contrast, creative, independent people aren’t motivated by too many rules and frameworks, but really appreciate the opportunity to think along – for instance, in an innovation lab setting. If loyalty is a key characteristic of your workforce, it’s more important to give them a sense of certainty rather than sharing every detail: this is where we’re headed, this is what’s going to happen, this is what you can expect, and this is what’s expected of you. You need to tailor your approach to the profile of the organisation or department in question. Managers play a really important role in this, as they’re the ones who can really provide that customisation.”

You need to tailor your approach to the profile of the organisation or department in question. Managers play a really important role in this, as they’re the ones who can really provide that customisation.”

4. Research takes time and effort, as we all know. Why should organisations make that investment?
"Data allows you to add value in the board room – you can concretely show what’s happening within the organisation and what direction or budget is needed. Data is increasingly important for leadership teams; too many decisions are still based on gut feelings. Of course, those feelings often turn out to be valid, but data helps you to be sure you’re working on the basis of facts.”

5. Measurement also requires respondents to put in some time, which isn’t always appreciated. For instance, people can feel irritated in the face of ‘another company survey’. So how do you get them to take part?
"The trick is to make it fun. Behind the reluctance in some organisations to send out a survey is the assumption that people don’t enjoy sharing their opinion. But many employees don’t see it that way, especially during organisational changes. That said, it’s important not to make it too much of a burden. Keep it easy, with a good variety of questions. And – last but not least – share the feedback from your research. If you show how change is taking place and what progress the organisation is making, employees become much more willing to take part next time.”

Want to know more about how happy employees make change sustainably successful? Read all about it in PROOF's sixth book, Happy change. Order it here.