Force field analysis: change management tool
In the following article I present a tool, called force field analysis, which helps us to manage changes in the company, whether small or large. What does it consist of? When should this tool be used? For what kind of changes can we apply this tool? Examples of driving and restrictive forces. Examples of solutions to reduce restrictive forces. Practical example applied to a real company.
What does it consist of?
This tool allows us to identify the factors that help or stop the achievement of the desired change.
This tool allows to support the search for change by identifying the factors that drive (driving forces) or those that slow down the change (repressive forces). Once the different values are listed, they are analyzed, and solutions are determined to reduce the repressive forces, clearly deciding the balance on the driving forces that will make us change.
It is very important to know some techniques that allow us to better manage the changes of the company, in order to find a path that will facilitate the intense and complicated task of incorporating a change in the company. Another tool that I recommend are the 8 steps of Kotter.
Those who have ever had the mission to apply or participate in any change, even if small in the company, have realized how difficult it is, and the personal effort we must invest, to convince and teach the workers, and to share with them.
The Diagram image of the force field analysis looks like this:
When should this tool be used?
– When you want to implement something new
– When something is not working as expected
– When you want to improve something already existing
For what kind of changes can we apply this tool?
We can describe numerous changes in which workers offer resistance to change, such as:
– Incorporate a computer system to streamline processes (moving from paper to computer is very expensive)
– Automate industrial processes incorporating new machinery.
– Process improvements
– Procedures improvements
– Implement a management system, such as ISO 9001: 2015, which applies to all company processes. It is one of the biggest problems that the Quality Managers find when it comes to carrying out their work.
– Change certain procedures or documents.
Examples of driving and restrictive forces
– Acceptance and approval by the Management
– Seen in a positive way by the staff
– Previous experience in the change, for example, in a computer program or machinery
– Desire to learn new systems
– Desire to improve processes and procedures
– Desire to simplify and / or automate processes in order to reduce the workload
– Adequate financial resources
– Adequate infrastructure resources
– Adequate human resources
– Training and continuing education
– Automate information
– Increase production speed
– Improve the job position
– Seen negatively by staff
– Lack of experience with computer systems, technology or machinery.
– Negative experiences with previous changes
– Not wanting to learn
– Need to continue doing the same as before the change for convenience
– Inadequate training and rejection of it by workers
– Fear of not knowing how to do their job
– Fear of reproach by superiors for not knowing how to do the job
– High costs that do not allow the necessary resources to be incorporated to assume the change.
– Management-employee conflicts
– Impatience of employees. Any change, requires time and sometimes is medium or long term, desperate workers to see their effort effective.
Examples of solutions to reduce restrictive forces
– To reduce the lack of experience: training, education and training of staff must be continuous and constant so that they adapt without problems so that workers adapt without problems to the new way of working. In the changes that are technological or computer, surely, you must have a qualified person, who is in contact with workers, and until they know how to handle it correctly and easily must be present and solve their doubts instantly.
– To reduce rejection learn: through group sessions or individually, show the ease of managing the program and facilitate their work. It should be clear from the address that the change does not serve to replace your job, but to make your job easier.
– To reduce the rejection due to past negative experiences: To solve this point, the personnel must be involved in the change, in each phase of the change, to participate, to solve their doubts easily and effectively, and in this way to reduce their resistance.
– To diminish the professional competitiveness: often, the rejection on the part of a veteran worker, that normally has a lot of weight in the company, is because he thinks that with the change, it can get to diminish his importance within the company , and that the tasks he performs will be replaced by others and that creates insecurity. For this, we can reduce it by:
a) recognition by the Directorate of SWOT (weaknesses, threats, strengths and opportunities) of each of the workers.
b) Work tables to improve the working environment
c) Encourage teamwork
d) Encourage effective communication
e) Integrate all members in decision making
f) establish distribution of functions and responsibilities.
The Directorate must pay attention to the resistance of each worker, and support through explanations what is expected of each one and the role of each worker in the change.
Normally, when the workers are backed up by the Management, they feel that they are taken into account, they are part of something important, and when they see that the change is taking place, that it is not so much, and they are able to overcome it with the resources help, they feel satisfied and collaborate without problems. Until this point, the process is quite complicated, unless the staff is used to undergo changes.
– With the training of staff, the fear of incorporating technologies can be reduced. The training must be adjusted to the needs and level of the workers. It is not worth any training. And once the worker has been trained, through a course, for example, his formative follow-up must be guaranteed during the application of the change. For example, a company incorporates a computer system. The workers are given a 5-hour course. Then when they arrive at their job, and they have to carry out their tasks with the new program, if they have doubts or nobody tells them if they are doing it right or wrong, it is useless, you will only frustrate the staff and not get the benefits that the change provides to the company.
– Demonstrate to the staff that the change is necessary for the survival of the company. For example, a company, to survive, must look for investors that inject capital. These investors may want to modify the processes of the company and for this, the collaboration of the staff is necessary. If you want the workers to approve your decision, you must explain to them, why the change and what need to do it. Give them assurance that their work is valued and they have no danger of losing it …
– Other specific solutions.
Practical example applied to a real company
We want to incorporate a computer system that streamlines administrative tasks in a mechanical workshop. The workers of this workshop have an average age of 50 years, which makes easy the implementation of this change. The workers are afraid, since they have never touched a computer and they do not know if they will be able to do it well. These workers lack experience and change management.
First of all we must analyze the current situation (before the change) and the future situation (once the change is applied):
– Workshop workers do not want the use of computers to perform administrative tasks, prefer to continue doing it on paper as before.
– They are complicated to use and the application in their daily tasks
– The implementation of the computer system in the workshop, will speed up. The administrative will insert all the data of the new vehicle into the system. The mechanic will check the vehicle and insert all the repairs to be made in the system, so the administrative can give the customer a quote automatically. If the client accepts it, the mechanic will know what to do and what will be billed. Once the work is completed, the administrative itself will issue the invoice that will be charged by the client. In this way, the customer will have a quick response, the mechanic will not have to fill in what he has done in a paper, which he would later give to the administrative, which would copy it in another computer system, maybe she would have to bother another time to the mechanic to know exactly the concept and the price, and make the invoice. Once implemented everything is easier and with fewer errors.
– Throughout this process, the use of paper and the archive area is also reduced, since everything is computerized.
Diagram of the analysis of the force field would be as follows:
There are several ways to evaluate the forces, I will show you a pair:
Through scores: Each of the factors of both forces are scored according to the weight they have, the scale is marked by the company itself, and at the end the values of the driving and restrictive forces are added separately, and in this way you would know the balance of the same ones and to take the necessary solutions for each factor, so that the balance left gaining towards the driving forces.
Another way is to establish indicators and more objective, is to establish indicators for each of the factors of each of the forces, and thus have an objective value that gives us the necessary information to know the balance of these forces. For example:
The indicator that we could use for the driving force factor of “motivated personnel” would be the% absenteeism before a training course. This percentage will be minimal if the staff is motivated.
The indicator that we could use for the restrictive force factor of “lack of financing” would be the% indebtedness. This percentage will be large if the company does not have financing.
This depends on the organization, it is important to establish and define the means of measurement.
For each one of the factors of the restrictive forces we must establish at least one solution. I have shown you some examples in this article, although they are specific to each company, since the particularities of the workers are specific to each of them, and therefore, the measures to be taken to reduce the rejection of the change