A Willis Towers Watson study says that if your organization can master change management and communication, you will be three and a half times more likely to outperform your industry peers. But how can you manage change you don’t control? The answer is simple: change the way you approach change.
Here are three strategies that show you how:
CHANGE the way you see your employees
McKinsey estimates that 70 percent of change efforts fail because of employee resistance. But with the conversation shifting from change management to change readiness, there’s a new awareness of the importance of understanding what’s causing that resistance. And understanding the underlying reasons can help you convert that resistance to resilience.
At VTLO, we help our clients see their employees as co-creators of change rather than passive participants. This mindset allows leaders to engage with their employees to shape change rather than merely forcing change on them. For example, our client, a global pharmaceutical company, had appointed a new leader who wanted to hit the ground running with a new integration project. So, in addition to providing a 90-day executive communications plan, we also produced materials for the new president and his leadership team that helped employees understand the unit’s immediate strategic imperative and feel positive about their role in driving business success.
CHANGE the way you hear feedback
As you communicate with your employees on impending changes through various channels such as a dedicated website, videos or newsletter update, be clear about what’s changing and why – and also leverage continuous feedback so you hear what employees have to say about the change.
Don’t wait until the change is implemented to seek feedback. Instead, keeping the communication lines open throughout the process gives you the opportunity to understand possible setbacks early on, and to take corrective steps if needed. For example, our team worked with a client who was moving to an open-space workplace. To overcome skepticism about the new configuration, the company built a model office within the existing building, and employees were invited to work in the space for a few hours or a day to experience what it was like This not only gave employees an opportunity to see an example of the real space in advance and provide feedback, but also helped avoid employees from conjuring any negative images of what could be.
CHANGE the way you feel about training
Whether it is through employee town halls, managers’ toolkits, or other forms of training and communication, organizations need to create a change-ready workforce. When leaders help drive the understanding that change is inevitable, preparing for it on a daily basis eventually becomes second nature to team members as they focus on solutions, rather than sentiments.
For example, the chief information officer (CIO) of a leading life sciences company needed our help with a global transformation that followed an acquisition. We began with a comprehensive communications approach that drove adoption of a major training and professional development program for the IT workforce. We developed online tools to facilitate the professional development program. As a result, the IT department’s reputation among its business partners improved significantly as employees gained the skills to lead change using the tools designed to facilitate it. The CEO publicly praised the CIO and his team for being change-ready and ably leading the digital integration of the two companies.