Change Management

Engaging Leadership to Enable Change: Questions to Ask and Tools to Adopt

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“Leadership engagement is complex, has many moving parts, and involves more than just the current project.”

We talk a lot about how leadership must be engaged for change to occur, but such engagement happens less than we would like or need. Why is that you might ask?


  • it is because leadership’s value in the change process hasn’t been tied to measures of success
  • these measures don’t exist
  • they don’t understand their role and what they are accountable for in managing change.
  • they don’t understand the impact / value of their role on the project
  • they don’t understand the value of the project to the organization
  • they don’t understand the impact of the change on their people
  • they don’t understand OCM
  • they don’t have the time (real or perceived) and they don’t see it as a priority

Wow! That’s a lot of “Maybes”.

How can we reduce this list a bit and target potential fixes to increase leadership’s engagement in the change process?

Answering the following questions can provide a good start.


So now what? While you may now better understand some of the underlying causes of leadership’s lack of engagement and the questions to ask to assess engagement , how do we increase engagement and ensure sustainable change among leadership? Let’s look at some of the more common solutions.

Ensure that any external consultant you hire is fully committed to educating and engaging leaders in every phase of the project.

  • Ensure that key documents are developed to serve multiple audiences and provide both project management and leadership with an early warning system that identifies points of resistance, go/no-go progress, and risks.
  • During the consultant selection process, ask the external consultants specifically how they engage and educate leadership.

Treat leadership as a partner rather than a customer.

  • Ensure the project team involves leadership in the development of the OCM measures of success.
  • Involve leadership in a transparent and active governance process that includes a multi-step go/no-go sign off process.
  • Ensure communication with leadership that includes a discussion of risk.
  • As part of the consultant selection process, ensure that external consultants have a track record of “straight talk” to leadership.
  • Ensure governance meetings are short, have repeatable agendas, and, most importantly, include transparent discussions and recommendations.
  • Define specific and measurable roles and responsibilities for leadership in managing change. Ensure these roles and responsibilities are updated as the project matures.

Understand the timing and ranking of leadership’s competing priorities.

  • Develop a leadership calendar to ensure the team understands the priorities and the availability of each leader.
  • Involve leadership in the process to ensure their initiatives are integrated at the “desk level”.

Resist the urge to provide leadership with mere talking points as the fulfillment of their communication responsibilities.

  • Prepare leadership with context to understand the impacts and timing of the changes to their teams.

I hope that this blog serves as a practical guide in how to ensure the active engagement of leadership throughout the change process.

Leadership engagement is complex, has many moving parts, and involves more than just the current project.

And while we can use tools (like the ones outlined here) to guide us, they are simply tools. They help us combine our experience with an understanding of the specifics of your organization’s changes. They define and focus our efforts. In addition, external consultants have limitations that require them to uniquely partner with internal resources e.g., Corporate Communications, HR, leadership, and internal change resources to name a few.


We would like to talk with you about how we’ve enabled organizations and leadership to create effective and sustainable change. Please call us or send an email to We’d love to hear from you.



Embedding Change into “Business as Usual”

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Embedding change increases the likelihood of success and accelerates the timeframe to capture value from organizational transformations. Some recent findings from a McKinsey & Company report[1] highlight the importance of building our change efforts into our “business as usual” processes. While it may seem antithetical to incorporate change into your standing operational structures, companies are more likely to be successful and can realize the value faster – even up to six months sooner than their counterparts – by using these strategies. This article recommends a few methods that you can use to instill change into your operations.

So, why is it important to build organizational change efforts into routine business operations? Ultimately, our goal in large-scale transformations should be to look beyond the quick fix. Focusing on the short-term versus the long-term is an inefficient use of resources and may cause more harm than good.

What does this look like?

Executive briefings, setting business objectives/targets, conducting business reviews on a monthly or quarterly basis, and annual planning efforts are all examples of standing operational business processes in which you can embed your change efforts. Partner with your operational and finance colleagues to find strategies to incorporate your transformation into these processes.

What steps can you take to successfully embed the change?

A few recommended strategies include:

  1. Organizational Change Management should partner closely with operational and business partners. Look for ways to work closely within the existing infrastructure with your operational and business partners, versus implementing the change from a siloed perspective.
  2. Complete an initial assessment to identify areas for improvement and highlight areas to align resources for the change. Beyond processes, it is also important to identify how resources are being allocated – from a talent, capital and technology standpoint – to facilitate the change. An initial assessment is an important first step in this process.
  3. Identify ways to embed the change into standing business processes. Once you have identified the appropriate business partners, take the time to work through your existing business review processes and briefings to determine where it is easy, and most appropriate, to include your change strategies so that it is not perceived as a “one off” change.

As you consider different organizational change efforts, I highly encourage you to identify and explore different strategies to embed change into your standing business processes. Companies that implement these methods have been found to be anywhere from 1.2 to 2 times as likely to succeed in their transformations[2]. In addition, these strategies accelerate the timeline to capture value from these initiatives. Look for ways to incorporate this approach into your change efforts. And, as always, please reach out to The CARA Group for any assistance that you may require at

[1]Losing from day one: Why even successful transformations fall short,” McKinsey & Company, Michael Bucy, Bill Schaninger, Kate VanAkin, and Brooke Weddle.

[2] Ibid.

2022 Business Trends Shaping OCM Value

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It’s early 2022. Time to pull out the old crystal ball and predict how the practice of Organization Change Management (OCM) will need to adapt to ensure successful change.

Before we do, however, let’s take a minute and define what we mean by OCM and how specifically it adds measurable value to organizations.

OCM Defined

OCM is a framework for managing the “people” side of change. The “people” side of change refers to the willingness, and ability, of people to learn and apply new skills, adopt to changes in the organization (e.g. operating model), changes in technology and processes, and new ways of working (e.g. collaboration).


I think it is safe to say that all organizations go through change and, for the ones that don’t, history tells us they ultimately die. So, what does this have to do with OCM’s future and its value?

OCM’s value is found in two distinct areas.

  1. Acceleration in the speed to which an organization adapts to change. New processes and technologies come to mind here. The time it takes for the workforce to learn and apply new skills is commonly called “the learning curve.” Shrinking the learning curve involves shortening the time to learn and apply new skills, and results in limiting the productivity loss that occurs with every change. The faster we can get to the future state the more quickly we can realize its benefits.
  2. Sustaining the benefits associated with the change. Oddly enough, we refer to this as sustainability and is driven by consistent change in behavior. An example of behavior change: Employees who work in an agile environment and collaborate, ask for help, and work with less than perfect information. Behavior change might also include eliminating the continued use of manual workarounds where a new technology is built on automation.

How does this help us understand the value of and predict trends in OCM? OCM is more than just a set of tools and methods. It is an integral part of the larger solution. It contributes to, and enables the success of, initiatives. As such, we are going to take a practical approach that first, identifies business trends (e.g., the impact of COVID-19, agile teams, strategic transformation), and second, identifies the OCM approach that best accelerates and ensures sustainability of the change.

Let’s get started:

McKinsey and Forbes predict 2022 will be a significant year for business change. I have summarized these, as well as other, predictions in the diagram below as well as the OCM response and respective value-added trends.


Wait! Before moving on you might be asking: isn’t the measurement of the success of OCM a trend? Why isn’t it included in the above? Good question! And an important one. We have chosen not to add it at this time as it is becoming standard fare. Having said that, we can now use data from measurement activities to assess and target OCM issues before they derail an initiative. We’ll cover this in detail as part of an upcoming blog.

So, what’s next?

We hope you found this article thought provoking and, more importantly, helpful in identifying areas where your OCM efforts can accelerate sustainable business value for your organization in 2022.

While our plan is to utilize our blog to take a deeper dive, provide examples, and case studies for each of the OCM responses above, please feel free to reach out to us as well at We’d love to help you tailor your OCM program to your specific business changes and accelerate your business success.


GARTNER: Businesses Move a Majority of their Applications to the Cloud

DELOITTE: Business’s Take a Transformational (multi year) View of their Business

FORBES: Significant Changes to the Operating Model

McKINSEY AND COMPANY: Significant Changes to the Operating Model

McKINSEY AND COMPANY: Significant Changes to the Operating Model

KORN FERRY: Workforce of the Future

FORBES: An Agile Approach to the Business Continue to Gain Popularity

DELOITTE: Continuation of Active Merger and Acquisition Activity

PWC: Ensuring productivity during COVID, Managing through Inflation, and labor shortages



Break The Bias: Reflections on International Women’s Day 2022

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The theme for International Women’s Day this year is #BreaktheBias. Bias is tricky, often an unconscious, knee-jerk response to the unknown. It is perpetuated by culture, those unspoken assumptions of one group about another. Bias manifests itself as the thousand paper cuts of language itself, embedded in words and phrases so familiar they may not appear at first to contribute to equality’s cause of death. So how do we “break” bias?

If, at its core, bias originates in ignorance and fear, the natural antidote must be knowledge and compassion. When confronted with bias, we have a choice to respond by asking ourselves, “What did I just learn from this experience so that I can prevent it in the future?” When called out on our own unintended linguistic offenses (parents of teenagers know what I’m talking about), we can admit our ignorance, say, “Thank you – I’m learning,” and do our best to show it.

At The CARA Group, we have a motto: “Change, Learn, Grow”. This reflects the services we provide to our clients. It also describes our aspirations for the CARA culture. Being open to change means admitting that we don’t get better by staying the same. Having a learning culture means acknowledging that mistakes are inevitable. That growth is an individual and a group process that requires commitment, focus, and time. To #BreaktheBias requires a commitment to “Change, Learn, Grow”, to take the small individual steps that together become a giant leap for mankind humanity. (See what I did there?)

In honor of International Women’s Day 2022, let us take a moment to acknowledge the women of Ukraine, where the battle that is being fought is one of survival. In Ukraine, IWD has been a public holiday for decades. As we take the day to recommit to “Change, Learn, Grow” in our local communities, let us also honor these women who will not have the chance to celebrate. One only need to witness their strength and resilience to #BreaktheBias about what a woman can do.


Creating an Agile Organizational Learning Strategy

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Is your organizational learning strategy keeping pace with agile business strategy?

As a business leader, you have heard the buzz, “The Big Quit” … “The Great Reshuffle” …” Hybrid Workforce”, etc. As we headed into 2020, business and learning leaders were preparing for mass upskilling to enable the workforce of the future for digital transformation. Strategies were prepared and plans were made. And then came COVID-19.

“… what is your approach to ensuring your organizational learning strategy is appropriate for today’s business realities? Are you leading learning from a strategic point of view or from a to-do list?”

Fast forward two years, and as we prepare and implement our 2022 business and learning strategies, we still have a need to upskill and reskill for ongoing digital transformation, in addition to adjusting to new ways of working and fast changing market and consumer conditions. We are seeing businesses both merge and split. We are seeing rapid growth and the impact of the health crisis on employment.

So, what is your approach to ensuring your organizational learning strategy is appropriate for today’s business realities? Are you leading learning from a strategic point of view or from a to do list?

In our August 2019 blog “The 10 Elements of Organizational Learning Strategy” we said: “A well-crafted and rigorously executed organizational learning strategy can ensure that your learning and development organization supports the business in achieving the strategic goals set forth by senior leaders. Without a clear strategy, learning and development organizations tend to lose focus and effectiveness.” This holds true today.

Strategic Framework for Creating an Agile Learning and Development Strategy

Leverage the strategic framework and review the statements below to audit your approach to creating a L&D Strategy that aligned to your business strategy.



Put yourself into the role of a L&D leader in your business as your review the statements below. Any statement that you cannot say yes to can become an action taken to create or improve upon your L&D Strategy.


  • I know the key business strategies and initiatives that the learning organization will need to support. (i.e.: new lines of business, new ways of working, merger/acquisitions, market expansions, technology adoption, etc.)
  • I meet with key stakeholders and/or appropriate business leaders to understand their initiatives and identify support needed and/or expected.
  • I am aligned with other Talent Management work streams such as recruiting, performance management and succession planning.


  • Through assessment and surveys, I have documented my team’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • I stay connected with external influences to understand opportunities to leverage new learning techniques, technologies, delivery methods.
  • I understand what legislation and regulations may impact learning policies and procedures.


  • L&D has a sponsor who advocates for the organizational learning strategy with senior decision makers.
  • I present the L&D strategy and plans to senior decision makers to gain feedback and alignment.
  • Senior decision makers keep me informed of business shifts so that plans can be adjusted.


  • I have KPIs defined and agreed upon to ensure efficiency, effectiveness, and business results.
  • I have an actionable scorecard or measurement system developed to track KPIs.


  • A plan has been created to depict learning projects, programs design and delivery dates.
  • Systems and processes are in place to ensure learning projects run smoothly.
  • The L&D team is upskilled to support the execution of the strategy.
  • Subject matter experts are oriented to their role and expectations for partnering with the Learning Organization.


  • I keep key stakeholders informed of KPIs discussing what, so what and now what based on metrics.
  • Learning costs are calculated regularly and reviewed.

What connects all the elements of the framework is ongoing communication with your key stakeholders. This cadence of communication is essential to determine if your organizational learning strategy is enabling your business strategy. While an annual planning process kick starts your year, ongoing measurement and communication is essential to ensure that your strategy powers the performance of your workforce and enables business strategy.

Contact us if you would like to discuss your organizational learning strategy needs at






Now is the Time to Reskill and Upskill. Tips for Employers and Employees.

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I recently met a consultant who shared a very profound statement with me. She said someone once told her, “I can meet you in the middle, but we can’t stay here.” In a world of constant change and turbulence, that statement made me realize that no matter what the change is, whether it is on a professional or personal level, we all need to work together to drive towards a future that makes sense and works for that situation.

“We all know as learning professionals that adoption of new skills/behaviors does not happen overnight and that training programs incorporating change management will ultimately achieve long lasting results.”

As we approach the end of 2021, we continue to hear about the growing skills gap and shortage of labor occurring in the workforce. Looking at this from the perspective of professional development, now is a great time to focus on reskilling and upskilling the core (hard or functional skills needed to accomplish a job) and power (soft or people skills needed for interpersonal relationships) skills. Employers should take this time to offer opportunities for employees to strengthen or gain both core and power skills. On the other hand, employees should not only look at development opportunities being offered by their employers, but also take control of their own development.

Employers should:

  • Understand the gap in core and power skills within their organization at all levels.
  • Create a strategy that will address upskilling or, perhaps, reskilling their existing employees.
  • Design and implement a plan that will have immediate impact as well as address future gaps.
  • Continually evaluate and adjust the plan over time. Don’t let your strategy become stagnant. It needs to shift as technology and the way we do business continues to change.

As an employee, you should:

  • Assess and determine what skills you would like to develop whether it is related to your current role (upskilling) or for a different role (reskilling).
  • Take advantage of what your employer has to offer. Have conversations with your manager/employer to ensure you are all on the same page with your goals.
  • Not rely only on what your employer is providing. Research and look for your own development opportunities. Whether that is taking classes, attending conferences, taking on projects, etc. Not only will it help you enhance the skills needed for your current role, it may also offer you an opportunity to take on stretch assignments or move into a new career path.

For example, as a learning professional, maybe you are looking to enhance your eLearning skills. Why not check out Tim Slade’s eLearning Designer Academy? He offers an 8-week guided program including cohorts, hands-on activities, and more. Or perhaps you are looking at complimentary skills such as change management; check out Prosci. We all know as learning professionals that adoption of new skills/behaviors does not happen overnight and that training programs incorporating change management will ultimately achieve long lasting results.

From my personal perspective, I recently stepped into a new role, and I was not prepared to take on a direct report or to build out a new function. While my employer will provide me with tools, resources, and coaching, I also need to take charge of my own development path and look for ways to help me achieve these goals. So, we are meeting each other half-way to move forward down a path that will be mutually beneficial.

Technology will continue to change and the way we work will too. So as employers and employees, why not work together to ensure we all continue to move forward from the middle?

Source: eLearning Academy

Three Tips for Implementing Successful Pulse Surveys

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Pulse surveys are a critical resource for our ongoing organizational change management efforts. Our core stakeholders tell us what is – and what is not – working through these assessments. As a result, we can plan, implement, and succeed in our change efforts.

“The ongoing feedback that we receive from our leaders, managers, and employees is a real treasure for our organizational change management efforts.”

A recent email that I received was a friendly reminder of the importance of pulse surveys. A key stakeholder responded to some deployment pulse survey results that I had sent. He stated, “This is a very good survey to know where we stand … Thanks for the valuable information/feedback. This is a treasure for us.”

My initial response was, “Is this a treasure?” His site’s assessment had highlighted specific knowledge gaps for some of our end users. I was initially skeptical that communicating areas of improvement could really be considered a gift.

However, after pondering the response some more, I recognized that this type of feedback really IS a treasure. Understanding where our teams are from an engagement standpoint- at any phase of deployment- ultimately sets us all up for long-term success.

So, what are some strategies that we can use to continue this type of engagement with our core stakeholders? There are three key steps that you can easily build into your transformation efforts to engage this type of feedback.

Here are three key tips that I highlight with clients when implementing pulse surveys:
  • Develop a baseline. It is important to develop an initial baseline to effectively manage your transformation. Do not forget to send out an initial survey to establish what your baseline is, prior to your change efforts!
  • Continue to manage the change by monitoring through pulse surveys. Pulse surveys can help you manage the change. The information that is gleaned through these types of assessments can help your team quickly respond and pivot when necessary.
  • Celebrate success. As you make progress in your change initiative, make sure that you celebrate your success. Pulse surveys are an extremely effective tool to highlight your progress with sponsors and core stakeholders.

This email from my colleague really was a great reminder. The ongoing feedback that we receive from our leaders, managers, and employees is a real treasure for our organizational change management efforts. These gifts can benefit any phase of our change initiatives- from original identification, into deployment and even in establishing lessons learned.

What can you do now?

Over the next few weeks and months, evaluate how you are gathering feedback from your core stakeholders. Where can you add in different strategies to assess your change initiatives? In addition, please feel free to reach out if you would like to think through your strategies and develop different methods to gather input.

Image of teamwork puzzles with caption committed to your future

Collaborating and Solving Problems Together: CARA’s Consultant Connect

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My vision has always been to build a community within CARA where our consultants could learn from and connect with each other. I believed from the start that this kind of community would help them to develop the skills that were important and relevant in our changing business landscape. I knew that dream would need to be realized by taking baby steps along the way. Here is the story of how we began, where we are today, and lessons learned along the way.

“How do we build a true community within our talent community? How do we engage with them and provide them the opportunity to engage between and among themselves?”


The first step we took was to ask ourselves “How do we build a true community within our talent community? How do we engage with them and provide them the opportunity to engage between and among themselves?”

The answer to that question was to initiate our Change, Learn, Grow program in 2017. We offered webinars on relevant topics that our consultants needed to learn about and found interesting. In 2019 we held a weeklong event with the culmination being a full day of in-person learning and growing. We were on track to do the same in 2020 but the pandemic forced us to change our plans. The webinars continued during the week but, obviously, no in person event was held.

At the end of 2020, I decided I wanted to shift gears a little bit and add another approach to how our community could learn about interesting topics. The idea was to put the focus on bringing our brilliant consultants together to learn from each other.

CARA Consultant Connect

The result is what we call CARA Consultant Connect, introduced in 2021. The model is a very interactive, virtual information sharing and ‘networking’ session. The concept involves, first, selecting a relevant topic, then providing a bit of researched information to the participants, and then proactively using most of the time for breakouts. We break out and throw our collective consultant brain trust against challenges that are currently happening all around us.

We have now held three Consultant Connects. It’s been so fun to see things unfold!

The three topics we have tackled this year:

  • Q1- Success in a virtual environment.
  • Q2- The Return to the workplace challenge.
  • Q3- Hybrid is here to stay: What can we do to remain effective in our new hybrid world?

It’s funny to see how our topics this year have mirrored our hopes and expectations for what we thought was to come, however, as is life, there is so much out of our control, and we are all just riding this wave.

So, what did we talk about in our most recent session?

Here are some of the most relevant points discussed:

  • Ambiguity is part of life and change. Most of us are fixers when it comes to how we respond and a good reminder is that you can’t control what happens to you but it’s healthier to focus on what we DO have control over, which is our own reactions.
  • What are the positives that have come out of the hybrid work model?
    • Personal flexibility of time
    • More movement opportunities like walking the dog mid-day
    • Remote collaboration CAN work and be super effective
    • Less commuting, convenience, and congestion
    • Greater freedom but the need to communicate and set boundaries better
    • People of all ages are now more technically astute
  • What are some unintended consequences?
    • Loss of natural time barriers (when are we NOT “at work”)
    • Fostering relationships can be more difficult
    • Mentoring for early career workers is not as easy when not in an office
    • Hard to make and develop a social network and make friends
    • Businesses that have relied upon office workers or traveling consultants, e.g., airlines, rental cars, restaurants, have not returned to normal
  • What are your predictions for the skills you will need to add or sharpen?
    • Technology skills, communication, and writing
    • Listening and emotional intelligence
    • Developing a stronger camera presence
    • Running a ‘focused’ meeting
    • Building relationships in a non-traditional way
    • Time management
    • Ending meetings on a positive note as a way of continuing to work on culture
Lessons Learned Along the Way

As always, our consultants brought such wonderful and diverse perspectives to things that we are all encountering on the daily.

We have learned a lot since Q1, but one thing has stayed the same: we have the best team of consultants and it is energizing to come together, connect and brainstorm to solve problems.

What’s up next? I’ll keep you posted.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Please share your comments with me. And if you are interested in joining CARA’s Talent Community, check out our current openings.

Change Management’s Role in Preserving the Island Vibe: Reflections from Key West, FL

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Sharing an observational essay by CARA’s Director, Organizational Change Management Andrew Barnitz

Many professionals take vacations to escape the daily grind of their jobs and careers. But in my line of work, I am surrounded by examples of change management both on and off the clock. A ‘good’ example of change management occurred on a recent trip to Key West, FL. Key West is the southernmost point of the continental US and is known for its island vibe, remarkable sunsets, live music, and Conch Fritters (a local delicacy). But because it is a destination of choice, it is often over-run by tourists (like me). But despite the overcrowded nature of this ‘key’, natives and visitors alike treat this beautiful piece of Earth as their own.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Barnitz

Why? Well, there are several contributing factors. But perhaps the most visible example is the use of sidewalk signage that accompanies most, if not all, sewers along the famed Duval Street. This is a simple, yet effective, example of ‘change management’. For one, the use of the ‘dolphin’ image tugs at the hearts of visitors (and natives, too). Secondly, the use of the language ‘DRAINS TO OCEAN’ resonates with locals who recognize that much of their livelihood and leisure activities are directly linked to the ocean.


As change professionals, we strive to minimize change resistance but accelerate adoption. And we recognize that in order to achieve meaningful behavior change (i.e., ‘no dumping’), it is imperative that we communicate with purpose, we tailor our messages, and we enroll our stakeholders (i.e. natives and tourists) in our collective mission.


Would Key West be able to achieve similar results if this alternative sewer signage was used: “$100 FINE FOR DUMPING”? Let me know your thoughts.

“The Great Workforce Realization”: Employee Influence on the Future of Work

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For the last 500+ days, many of us have had the privilege of working from the comfort of our own homes – productively, I might add. While I reflect on this most unique period of my career, I have had the pleasure of experiencing six changing seasons, the joy of hearing my two boys interact with eLearning or the periodic disruptions when they bust through my office door, and watched the sun rise and set before my eyes for nearly 18 months! Most recently, however, these experiences have changed with the ‘newest normal’, as I hear and see neighbors interacting and children playing. As we now broaden our perspective to contemplate work life outside of our homes, feelings such as excitement, relief, and yes, uncertainty, are conjured up.

And so, I ask: What does this mean for us as leaders and employees?


As millions of employees, managers, and leaders set their sights on returning to a physical workplace, there is a collective sigh that work-life will never be the same. No matter where you sit on the return-to-work continuum, there are no prior experiences to draw from or instruction manuals to follow on how and when we return to a physical workplace. While there is no shortage of blogs highlighting this critical employee migration on LinkedIn and many other social platforms, there is one common theme across all articles and that is that there are more unknowns than knowns. Collectively, millions of us are in a state of flux. The future of our next work location is ambiguous, uncertain, and, yes, complex. And while many employees are anxious about the future, many employers are seeing significant turnover. “The Great Resignation” is a term I recently read in an article from Tech Republic1 which highlights organizations who are experiencing much churn over organizational decisions that do not reflect this newest normal. Consequently, employees are now having the greatest influence over the future of work than ever before.

And while many have coined this new future of work as “The Great Migration,” and “The Great Resignation,” etc. – at CARA, we believe that what we are experiencing should be called “The Great Workforce Realization”. A realization that:

  • A hybrid workforce is here to stay.
  • Office workers can be as productive, if not more productive, from home as they are in the office.
  • Employees will influence the new future of work like never before.
  • Organizations who fail to adapt to a flexible workplace model may struggle to compete for top talent.
  • Employees are taking ownership of their careers and seeking flexible work environments.
  • Leaders have less leverage and influence over the workforce of the future than prior years.


For many organizations, this is their watershed moment: an opportunity to set themselves apart and demonstrate an intentional focus on the needs of the employees and their desire to operate in a hybrid workforce. With that in mind, The CARA Group hosted a virtual interactive session in late May 2021 to address many of these same questions about our ‘newest normal’ and the future of work. We posed two questions to our CARA talent community and crowdsourced a collective response. For question #1 below, we tackled this discussion from four unique perspectives: HR, Employees, Leadership and Logistics. See the results below.


What are the biggest challenges facing our clients as we re-enter a physical workplace?


  • Understanding migration HR ramifications.
  • Defining protocols for infected employees.
  • Resolving employee conflict.
  • Sourcing talent not interested in a physical workplace.


  • Misalignment of desire between employee and leadership to return to the office.
  • Belief that work/life balance is a best practice.
  • Shift in employee dynamic due to employee conflict.
  • Letting go of unprofessional habits formed during pandemic.


  • Lack of coordinated change management and communication strategy.
  • Executives’ discomfort leading a hybrid workforce.
  • Low trust by employees for colleagues not in physical space.
  • Decreased employee retention without flexible work arrangements.


  • Lack of clear expectations for on-site/off-site.
  • Lack of a vaccination policy(ies).
  • Lack of vaccine compliance.
  • Office configuration to accommodate social distancing guidelines.
  • New safety protocols required to accommodate a hybrid workforce.


At CARA, we proactively consult with our clients to address the many challenges that lie ahead. Below is a subset of ways that we are helping our clients navigate their return to a physical workplace. Our approach to this challenge, addressed in our second interactive session question with our consultants, falls within four key areas of focus: Change Management, Leadership Alignment, Change Readiness and Employee Engagement.


How do we consult with our clients knowing they are facing new ways of working?


  • Develop thoughtful change management strategies
    and blueprints.
  • Provide flexible content and delivery options to
    accommodate a hybrid learning experience.
  • Offer high level change management 101 coaching
    enabling leaders to guide employees through their return
    to the office journey.
  • Coach leaders and employees to develop a
    case for change.
  • Develop robust communication strategies that are
    tailored to the unique needs of leaders, managers, and
  • Reestablish collaboration norms and best practices as
    cross-functional teams begin to reconvene in joint


  • Encourage leaders, managers, and employees to verbalize,
    accept and acknowledge return to work challenges.
  • Coach executives to shift their POV and expectations
    around in-office work.
  • Coach executives to abandon the notion that employees
    need to be present to produce results.
  • Coach executives on building a corporate culture in a
    hybrid work environment.
  • Encourage leaders to acknowledge the impacts of a hybrid workforce from both domestic and global perspectives.
  • Survey leadership to capture their voice and align on a set
    of hybrid workforce norms.


  • Define key success factors and success metrics to measure
    employee adoption goals.
  • Encourage executives to capture employees and managers
    POV as part of their transition back to the office.
  • Coach employees to be open-minded and to show empathy
    for colleagues who are struggling to transition to this newest norm.
  • Ensure continuous messaging to employees that highlight safety precautions.
  • Leverage CARA’s “Storytelling As A Service” capability to engage employees and rally support.


  • Conduct an initial survey to establish a baseline for measuring success.
  • Leverage CARA’s Survey Focus Group capability to capture
    the voice of leaders, managers, and employees.
  • Develop targeted stakeholder action plans to address unique
    needs of each employee.
  • Produce various communication materials that highlight
    benefits of collaboration in the office.
  • Develop and socialize hybrid workforce success stories.

As the CARA team highlighted above, we have only just begun to understand the challenges that lie ahead as organizations migrate employees and leaders back to the physical workplace. But what we do know is that the implications of an organization’s return to physical workplace decisions, protocols, and policies will be far-reaching. We also recognize that the way organizations treat employees and leaders during this migration will serve as a game changer over the long-term. For example, companies who subscribe to a flexible workplace approach may find themselves organically acquiring top talent like never before. At CARA, it is our belief that organizations who develop a coordinated change management approach, listen, and empathize with their employees, and proactively gauge employee readiness will stand to reap the most benefits from this employee migration.

As a professional services partner to the Fortune 500, CARA is here to help you navigate this uncharted journey. Contact us to learn how we can partner with you to help you navigate.



  1. Source: Tech Republic –