So last week we covered off the first three factors in successful change programmes - this week it’s the final four of the top seven.
"There's no point sending an update because we haven't got anything to say". If I had a euro for every time I'd heard that....! For me there is every reason - Honest and timely communication is key - particularly when you've committed to sending updates to staff. When there's no news, tell your staff, “there's no news”. And when there's bad news, tell them that too.
They'll thank you for it.
When there's a void created by a lack of communications, your people will fill that void with a mix of hearsay and conjecture, neither of which is useful when you're trying to deliver a change agenda.
Solution - Create a communications plan with timely, relevant updates delivered in an honest, authentic way - it will set the foundation for successful change and bringing your people with you.
Ownership of change by middle management is critical to driving employee engagement, particularly during change.
Solution - Regularly communicating with them, bringing them into the tent as early as possible, empowering them to deliver the change and ensuring they are part of the solution are all key.
But how do you do that when that audience is impacted? As can often happen in restructures and cost cutting, it’s the middle management layer that gets hit first.
Solution - Stop treating them as managers or People Leaders and start treating them as people. Be open and authentic in your messaging and communications and do it often. And most importantly, be honest. That honesty will build a level of trust that you can use to ask for their support in bringing their teams through the same change.
Employee involvement in finding ways through change is also key - your people manage customer relationships, create new products and services, run your marketing campaigns, process accounts, run IT - and everything else that keeps your company ticking. In short, they know how your company is working on the ground.
So they’re an amazing source of potential solutions that can be tapped into during change projects. In addition to the potential of their ideas to deliver the change, the process of listening and then implementing their ideas is a huge driver of employee engagement.
Solution - Get your senior managers out to meet and listen to staff, set up ideas funnels on your intranet to collect ideas and make sure that when people submit them you collect and review them providing feedback on those that are worth progressing (better still, empower them to progress them!)
Change agents (Pioneers of Change) - every company I've ever worked in has 'Champions' spread throughout their business - passionate experts whose role it is to support the roll-out of new technology, change or practice through their business areas in a way that resonates with their people. It's a great idea. That is until the gloss goes, it gets a bit hard, it isn't in their objectives as a key part of the day job, and so it gets dropped.
Solution - Tap into leaders in the organisation - and that's not just your formal, hierarchical leaders, it’s the informal leaders, the people in your business who other people listen to and follow - those people who passionately believe in what you're trying to achieve. Instill that pioneering spirit in the right people and they will support your people through change.
This is just a synopsis of IBM's research peppered with my own views. To read their views and the actual research you can click here.