Monthly Archives

July 2020

Four Drastic Executive Behavior Changes Required in the Time of COVID-19

By | Change Management, Learning | No Comments

As a talent development professional, and self-declared talent trend geek, I have read countless books, white papers, articles, and research summaries on the art and science of leadership and employee engagement. But even my favorite podcast pearls and TedEx titans can’t keep up with what we are seeing in the world of work today.

In this era of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, what it means to live, work, lead and contribute as part of the business community has been fundamentally, perhaps permanently altered. Since March 2020, businesses, large and small, have been closed or limited in their operations, and even the remaining essential workers have had to radically adjust to new protocols.

“…what does returning to work [in this new environment] mean for executives, managers and their teams learning to function in a dramatically changed environment? If they are like many leaders …they are exploring and experimenting…blending creative imagination with technical know-how.”


Now, as each state cautiously rolls out a phased return to public life, businesses are spending countless hours figuring out how to implement what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce calls a National Return to Work Plan. They, along with local governments are exploring the major implications of returning to work in this environment. They are grappling with workplace safety, employee rights and wellbeing, liability concerns, and continued revenue disruptions, just to name a few.

What does this mean for executives, managers and their teams learning to function in a dramatically changed environment? If they are like the many leaders I have been speaking with, they are deeply entrenched in what Walt Disney called Imagineering. They are exploring and experimenting…blending creative imagination with technical know-how.

On the technical front, an abundance of resources is emerging to help business owners/stakeholders untangle the web of considerations. It’s a little like looking at a computer motherboard. Every decision affects another circuit in the system. I, for instance, read the CDC’s May 2020 Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease. While it only took me 30 minutes to read the online page itself, it contained 77 hyperlinks and 1500 reference documents. All this before leading me to the CDC’s Resuming Business Toolkit – another 86-bulleted checklist.

Given the likelihood that leaders are referencing equivalent online guidelines from other national and industry sources, I think there is no doubt, the first drastic behavior change for leaders is: Redefining Control.

Just as the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health aims to control hazards to protect workers, leaders may need to redefine their own hierarchies of control from a management perspective.

I can imagine re-defining some of the CDC controls in these ways

  • Elimination: Remove everything but the priority focus areas.
  • Substitution: Replace old management habits that don’t work anymore.
  • Engineering: Reimagine systems for the new normal.
  • Administrative: Change people processes.
  • Personal: Learn to Influence in new and different ways.

With all the variables in play for leaders and employees, the whole idea of Resiliency will take on a new meaning. Clearly it is resiliency to manage the business framework, as Ernst & Young suggests. But it’s also resiliency with people. What are teams experiencing in this new era?

Just one of many examples is the impact current and future remote work has on employees. A recent Bloomberg study showed that U.S. remote workers have logged on for an additional three hours per day compared to patterns seen before March 11 — a 40% jump. Everyone reacts differently to this kind of workplace upheaval. We respond based on our work styles, available social support, financial situation, health, living environment, and many other factors. This is where Disney’s call for creative imagination comes into play. How managers model and build resiliency into the new cadences of work will determine their success in creating a viable, post Covid19 workplace.

Along those same lines is the manner in which leaders show up as crisis managers. New variables such as health checks, social distancing, confidentiality, or even stigma, are all driving leaders to revisit their principles in a world where, as Korn Ferry puts it, “perform” becomes “survive”. The way in which leaders address concerns around personal comfort, information and procedural implementation is not just a matter of preference. It is a choice that stands to drive what their business culture looks and feels like in a pandemic-changed world.

As with most calls for leader behavior change, once principles and processes are in place, it all comes back to communication. This time requires all leaders to take a radical look at their presence, language, transparency in thought and practice. Never has it been more important to show up “the right way, at the right time, with the right information”, as a Bain & Company article puts it. Reflecting on the book Leadership in Turbulent Times, by Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, the Bain brief suggests that communicating with a combination of deep-seated purpose and authenticity will give managers the ability to lead through times of fracture and fear.

In the frenzy of policies, procedures, toolkits and checklists, I’m rooting for every leader to find the space to develop the human outreachplan that will make all the difference for themselves and the teams they lead.



  1. Image: How are organizations around the world responding to COVID-19?: People Matters: May 2020:
  2. US Chamber of Commerce: Implementing a National Return to Work Plan; Memo from Suzanne Clark, President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, April 13, 2020;
  3. Quotetab: Walt Disney
  4. CDC: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), May 2020;
  5. CDC: Resuming Business Toolkit:
  6. NIOSH: Hierarchy of Control
  7. EY COVID-19 Enterprise Resilience Framework:
  8. Bloomberg: Working From Home Means Working Longer Hours for Many
  9. Korn Ferry: Leading in a Crisis:
  10. Bain & Company: Coronavirus: How to Be the Leader Your People Need Right Now
  11. The Stark Solution, Radical Behavior Change in the Era of Covid19., June 2020

We’re thrilled to welcome Christine Johnson, Director, Client Solutions, to CARA!

By | Announcements | No Comments

The CARA Group is pleased to announce the hiring of Christine (Chris) Johnson to the position of Director, Client Solutions, effective June, 2020. Chris reports to CARA’s VP, Sales and Solutions, Mike Mazur. In this role, Chris will focus on creating customized learning, change management, and communications solutions for F500 clients.

“I’m thrilled to have Chris as part of the CARA team,” said Mike. “Her ability to understand the client’s true business drivers, her reputation as a problem solver, and her solutions orientation fit in perfectly within the CARA culture of ensuring customer success.”

Chris has over 30 years’ experience in B2B enterprise solutions and is currently serving as President Emeritus for the Society of Talent Acquisition & Recruitment Professionals (STAR) of Chicago. Chris also served as an Advisory Council Member to the Board of Directors of ATAP, the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals.

Chris comes to CARA from ManpowerGroup Solutions, where she was Director, Strategic Client Solutions for Recruitment Process Outsourcing and Talent Acquisition Consulting. In this role, she regularly met with senior-level executives at Fortune 500 companies to design flexible, scalable outsourced recruiting solutions (RPO) which positively impacted cost, improved cycle time efficiency, and attracted best-fit talent. ManpowerGroup Solutions was ranked as the industry leader in global RPO by Everest Group BPO industry analysts for the past nine consecutive years.

Prior to joining ManpowerGroup, Chris was the Consumer Markets Industry Lead at Futurestep, a Korn Ferry Company, and a member of Korn Ferry International’s Global Consumer Markets Practice Team. As a business development executive, she focused on consulting with senior talent acquisition and HR executives on recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), project, and talent consulting solutions, providing integrated talent acquisition solution design across the candidate life cycle.

Consulting Skills for the Workforce of the Future

By | Change Management, Communications, Learning | No Comments

I have been recruiting for over 20 years in the F500 Learning and Development industry, and I have seen a great deal. From rapid skill shifts, to elevated client demands, to erratic market swings, consulting is not for the faint of heart. Working with the F500 has a very slim margin for error and expectations are high when a consultant walks through the physical or virtual door.

So, what does it take to be an exceptional CONSULTANT?

F500 Clients are demanding, so while you need to possess solid skills to perform and deliver results (hard skills), these are table stakes and not the only skills you need to bring to the proverbial table. You will need to quickly adapt into a client organization, communicate concisely and empathetically, make sound decisions, think outside the box, manage deadlines . . . You must also be chameleon-like and be able to adapt to change quickly, all while managing client expectations and delivering results!

“..attributes such as executive influence, strategic agility, political savvy, and the ability to coach/provide feedback will be expected. They are the differentiators or game changers and that is what a client requires.”


A wise man once told me that the best Consultants are curious and customer-focused… they listen, investigate, ask the right questions, and quickly absorb an understanding of the clients’ business. He also said …. “Consulting is a lot like dating” and while this analogy is a bit tongue in cheek, it has some validity. In consulting, connecting is so important and relationship building is critical.

There are times when consulting feels like being caught between a rock and a hard place – a delicate balance between knowing when to align/conform and when to push back. As projects become more complex, the stakes become much higher. Therefore, attributes such as executive influence, strategic agility, political savvy, and the ability to coach/provide feedback will be expected. They are the differentiators or game changers and that is what a client requires. Possessing these skills will allow you to solidify and expand relationships which, in turn, usually earns you the right to be involved with follow-on initiatives. After all, isn’t that really what it is about . . . becoming extraordinarily valued by the client that he/she continues to partner with you and provides more opportunity for CARA and you!

You may be asking yourself, “Is consulting right for me?”

As you may have gathered by now, consulting is far more than just building an excellent work product!

I know this career path is not “a walk in the park”! I have hired hundreds of consultants in my tenure and not every engagement is without error. Typically, the hard skills of the consultant have rarely been the reason for an unsuccessful engagement. It usually comes down to one or more of the softer skills I have been referencing. You will need these skills to build and further your consulting career – and in our current climate, they are absolutely critical!

While consulting will never be shy of challenges, pressure, and uncertainty; it will always be brimming with big rewards –working on multi-faceted engagements within a variety of industries, growth opportunities, and the opportunity to create so many meaningful relationships.

To all of CARA’s Consultant Team Members, I’d like to dedicate this blog to you. Thank you for your partnership and focus!

S4HANA Primer: Change Considerations Supporting Migration

By | Change Management | No Comments

This blog will define SAP and highlight the technical and change management considerations from the perspective of a CARA consultant on a CARA engagement.

Who is SAP?

SAP SE is a German multinational software corporation that makes enterprise software to manage business operations and customer relations. The company is especially known for its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. SAP is an acronym for Systems, Applications, and Products.

Companies use SAP to integrate different business processes across various functions, such as purchasing goods and services, fulfilling customer orders and collecting payments, importing and exporting goods, manufacturing and distributing products, financial reporting, and maintaining Master Data, which is core to their operations.

SAP’s Journey to S/4HANA

SAP introduced R/1 enterprise software in 1972 and released R/2 for the mainframe in 1979. The next generation was R/3 for the client/server that was released in 1992. SAP introduced mySAP for the world wide web in 2000. It was an e-business software integration tool that delivers content to the user based on his or her role in an enterprise. SAP introduced HANA in 2011. It is optimized for SAP’s in-memory database known as SAP HANA. SAP has continued to enhance this suite of products with real-time analysis and computing, workflow approvals, self-service tasks, and cloud offerings.

“A comprehensive change management strategy ensures people engage and support the change and implement the behavior to sustain the change.”



S/4 HANA is the successor of SAP R/3 and is SAP’s ERP system for large enterprises. S/4 HANA is a solution specifically designed to run on HANA and helps companies move away from traditional ERP systems towards providing users real-time decision support.

SAP HANA is comprised of three key components:
1. In-memory computing engine
2. Database technology
3. Single database platform

To learn more about these three key components, refer to the following diagram.

SAP HANA three components diagram
Source: M. Schroer

What Must Companies Consider When Migrating to S/4HANA?

From a Technical Perspective…
Companies must consider their migration and implementation strategy as described below.

  • Brownfield or Greenfield Implementation
    • A Brownfield implementation means the company is migrating to SAP S/4HANA without re-implementation and without disruption to existing business processes. However, it does allow for re-evaluation of any existing process flows and any customizations that were made to the system.
    • A Greenfield implementation or Vanilla implementation is the traditional way of implementing an SAP system. The team, which consists of both consultants and key users, starts from best practices and designs the final ERP solution taking into account the team’s joint experience.
  • On-premise or Managed Cloud Migration
    • An on-premise migration means all of the SAP hardware is located within the companies’ own data center (as opposed to in the cloud).
    • A cloud migration means the company moves its SAP applications, data, and technology to a managed cloud service.

From a Change Management Perspective…
Companies must consider the people, process, and technology impacts their employees and partners to ensure they are ready, willing, and able to adopt the move to S/4HANA. Outlined below is the change management strategy CARA designed for a recent SAP client.

Sponsorship | Stakeholder Assessment | Communications | Training & Documentation | Hyper-care Support

CARA designed activities and tools to support the program’s vision and objectives. Leaders were aligned on the Change Management strategy and benefits and the change agent roles and responsibilities. A program overview video was developed featuring key leaders describing the key aspects of the program – Who, What, Where, When, and Why. In addition, visioning and elevator speech talking points were developed for leaders.

Stakeholder Assessment
When SAP users complete actions in their SAP system, their keystrokes are governed by two components:

  1. Transaction codes (Tcodes) – a short cut key that provides direct access to the desired transaction from anywhere within the SAP system.
  2. Security roles – governs what data and processes each user can access inside the SAP system.

When migrating to S/4HANA, each client will experience changes to their transaction codes (Tcodes), security roles, the look and feel of SAP screens, and changes to business processes.

CARA conducted a job/role impact/risk assessment to identify the impacted stakeholders, assess benefits based on their job/role, and identify potential risks.

CARA designed a robust communication strategy to support 12,000 global SAP users. The goal was to provide the right message, at the right time, to the right audience using the right vehicle. In addition to the sponsorship artifacts mentioned above, the following communication artifacts were developed:

  • Communication plan
  • Stakeholder support site
  • Three-level stakeholder impact summary
  • Monthly newsletter and change agent events
  • IT sponsored system demos to illustrate system changes

Training and Documentation
The typical SAP user is supported by many standard operating procedure documents (SOPs) and training artifacts that govern how they use the SAP system.

Some SAP clients do not completely employ global processes. This results in a larger number of SOPs and training media items to update when they migrate to S4/HANA because they have to update the global processes and local documents that are location or country-specific.

The CARA Stakeholder Assessment identified how changes to the client’s transaction codes (Tcodes), security roles, business processes, and the look and feel of SAP screens impacted the client’s SOPs and training media.

CARA developed a robust media tracker to track the development/updates to over 1500 SOP and training artifacts. The tracker highlighted dependencies between development teams and provided for easy resource analysis and allocation. It also included a dashboard to report development/update progress to leadership.

CARA partnered with the client’s training team to develop a global training deployment plan that included self-service training and recorded webinars.

Hyper-care Support
CARA partnered with the client’s program team to develop a hyper-care support strategy that included:

  • Dashboard and metrics for leadership
  • Launch Communication plan
  • Daily huddles for the program team
  • Q&A conference calls to support change agents post Launch
  • Q&A mailbox/triage strategy to support users/partners post-launch
  • Supplemental training for users/partners

Successful SAP S/4HANA implementations require the client’s organization to move from the current to the future state. However, clients don’t change, people change. The CARA change management consultant assessed the stakeholders and developed a communication, training, and support strategy to ensure their successful adoption of S/4HANA. By applying the right combination of change management activities and tools, the CARA change management consultant ensured the client’s people engaged and supported the change and then implemented the required skills and behavior to sustain the change.