Tandem Solutions: Rethinking Organizational Change Management

Joe McCafferty, Managing Director and Jan McCafferty, Managing Director, Tandem SolutionsJoe McCafferty, Managing Director and Jan McCafferty, Managing Director Penning an epigram about change management, businessman and author Philip Crosby observed, “Slowness to change usually means fear of the new.” In a career contributing heavily to management theory and quality management practices, Crosby stresses the importance of changing organizational culture and employee attitudes. This is just one of many perspectives, and recent Amazon queries for books on change management turn up over 30,000 titles, each with a different and distinct take on the subject. It is a bit surprising to know that considering all the published books and blogs posted online, managing change is still a white whale for many leaders. Part of the challenge is that in addition to setting direction and strategy for their organizations, leaders must follow Crosby’s lead and focus on how to change culture and employee attitudes. Joe McCafferty and Jan McCafferty, managing directors and co-founders of Tandem Solutions, unanimously agree that businesses need to look at organizational change from the employees’ viewpoint to lead successful change initiatives. “Leaders must help employees embrace the new direction and leave behind their old habits: Organizations change when people change,” says Joe McCafferty.

Partners in business as well as life, Joe and Jan founded Tandem Solutions, a change management solution provider, in 2002 with the mission to help organizations build performance-based cultures, strengthen leadership capabilities, and manage complex organizational change. Between them, Jan and Joe have over 60 years experience leading change in organizations. They began their careers at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) and have applied their expertise to help companies ranging from startups to Fortune 100 companies across a broad range of industries. At Tandem Solutions, they have surrounded themselves with a team of seasoned executives who add depth of experience to all of the company’s efforts.

Tandem Solutions uses a unique combination of processes and methodologies combined with online technologies and data assets to deliver solutions for their clients. As Jan says, “We really think of ourselves as a technology enabled services firm. We try not to reinvent the wheel as much as possible and that philosophy has led us to develop a number of online tools to support our team and our clients.” This approach is evident in the company’s 3 service lines: Consulting, Training, and Coaching.

Mapping Strategy to Operation

“The idea for our consulting practice came from when we used to ride a tandem bike. On a tandem, the person in the back, or stoker, has very little control over steering, braking, or gearing, but is typically responsible for planning the route, providing direction and, of course, having strong legs to support the bike’s momentum.

We realized that effective change requires leadership at multiple levels across an organization and that the traditional approaches for developing leaders have failed to deliver results

As consultants, we knew that change initiatives had to be led from inside a company and like a stoker, our value was in helping to plot a route, provide direction, and support the executives leading the change,” says Joe. Consequently, the company has focused on developing specific skills and expertise in leading organization change that can be used to effectively support their clients’ executive leaders.

Joe, who leverages his experience as a former senior executive adds, “As we gained more experience in our professional lives, we realized that less tangible things like organization culture and employee engagement started to matter more. It didn’t matter if companies had a perfect strategy: If they couldn’t get employees to embrace it and take action, the strategy was useless. We knew we had to find a way to help our clients translate the promise of things like vision and strategy into more tangible ideas that were easy for employees to grasp.” The result was their TandemPerformTM framework, which includes a service component and a web based tool. The framework and associated methodology help translate intangible success drivers like strategy, vision, and values into tangible behaviors and accountabilities that the workforce can relate to. The web-based solution enables organizations to further define the performance criteria and behavior models for employees in an enterprise. Tandem Solutions maintains a curated database, comprised of varied employee skills, abilities, and behaviors that are specifically tied to the types of strategies that its clients implement. The database allows the firm to define clear, tangible, employee behaviors and skills that are aligned with the vision, values, and strategy of the business and help employees understand how their daily work supports the company’s strategy and future direction.

Like a stoker on a tandem bike, who provides a roadmap and support, Tandem Solutions provides clear guidance to their clients and supports them along the change journey. “We help our clients understand the mechanisms behind helping people change. At an individual level, employees need to let go of the past and head toward the future. From the leadership perspective, it is all about setting clear direction, understanding where your employees are, and helping them embrace the future. We simplify the process for enterprises and support leaders to help them build the successes they are after,” says Joe.

Support for Success

“Early on, we also realized that effective change requires leadership at multiple levels across an organization and that the traditional approaches for developing leaders have failed to deliver,” says Jan McCafferty. “Our consulting work helps provide a road map for change, and our training helps develop leaders who can motivate and inspire their workforce to deliver on the change goals.

The real power is in bringing together both parts of the solution to build a culture that embraces change.” A unique approach called TandemLead, the company’s leadership-learning platform and assessment tool suite, helps to bridge that level-spanning gap in leadership. The approach is a unique combination of online self-study, on the job application, and executive coaching that helps leaders develop. “We are unique in terms of bringing these solutions together. We view ourselves as a facilitator that helps our clients understand the process of change and develops the leadership needed for success,” adds McCafferty.

"We assist our clients in understanding the mechanism behind helping people change"

Their learning approach, LongitudinaLearningTM makes learning an ongoing process that incorporates the best research findings on adult learning theory. Besides encouraging on-the-job practice, which creates an in-depth understanding of concepts, the approach also contributes to strengthening engagement, accountability, and skills of the learner. Tandem Solutions’ approach toward creating a dynamic learning journey includes three core principles. Firstly, they prepare learners to recognize key areas of development using pre-assessment tools. Online self-study and application exercises to engage the participants is the next step. These exercises use tools and templates that help participants understand how to use their skills in their unique culture. The final step is when a Tandem Coach facilitates a session with participants and helps them deepen their understanding and form new insights about their leadership opportunities. Tandem Solutions has applied this approach to countless employee situations and consistently receives top marks for creating powerful and engaging learning programs.

Personal Attention

“Sometimes, executives need specific support to move forward, and we are also committed to helping them individually,” says Joe. The company has aligned with the International Coaching Federation and all team members pursue certification as ICF coaches. “This allows us to work one on one with executives at all levels to help them advance their ability to be effective leaders of change” adds Jan.

And the Results are In

Tandem Solutions’ role as a facilitator of change recently proved beneficial for a company that was carrying out multiple mergers simultaneously to bring an existing workforce under a central umbrella. Tandem supported the client in every phase of the project, right from defining organizational design through to outlining new responsibilities within the firm. Consequently, they were able to bring the workforce under a single entity while ensuring ongoing growth in revenue and strengthening employee engagement, even when the merger was taking place. As they have done with numerous others, Tandem Solutions helped the client navigate their cultural journey in a way that allowed them to maintain ongoing success.

The company has delivered many such capabilities to its diverse clientele in the past two decades. Going forward, it strives to create a deeper impact on organizations by continuing to expand on its expertise in leading change and developing teams of leaders who are well equipped to deliver great results.
- Hanna Wilson
    June 26, 2019