The complexity of organizational change has never been more pronounced than during a time of crisis. Employees now settling into a work from home climate have left their business leaders with a unique set of demands to address. While technology has supported the basic needs to keep many companies afloat, it can only do so much. With all the tools, devices and connectivity options available to us, the work culture that develops as part of a remote work approach will largely depend on one thing.
If we take a moment to reflect on our digital or any other transformation initiatives, we can see a pattern. Our ability to introduce and effectively implement organizational change will rely on our communication skills. The way we communicate through change is essentially the primary reason for its success or failure.
Communications that support major change is hard. We are not dealing with deciding how to best send an email or make a presentation about what is changing. In fact, we are working to express conviction, invoke emotions, and create a strong trust for the leaders who are driving the change. This is where organizational alliance develops and eventually produces the outcomes we desire.
Let’s look at the primary ways we need to communicate to our organization to achieve the objectives of our strategy.
Why and What Results Look Like: People are often anxious about change. The uncertainly or shift from an established norm is sometimes difficult to grasp. As leaders, expressing why a change is necessary for the betterment of all is key. But we can’t stop there. Employees must understand what their world will look like post change. Speak to the “What’s in it for me” and truly give people perspective on what the change accomplishes. Keep in mind, the change must seem attainable and have alignment to company strategy. In other words, we can’t expect people to believe in a digital transformation vision that doesn’t address archaic technology. Employees must be able to reasonably connect the dots to avoid confusion or lack of buy in.
Influencers of Change: We all know leaders are expected to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. However, the behaviors of all organizational influencers will set the tone for effective change. Senior managers as well as respected team members will be observed to shape the adoption. Our actions are constantly communicating to others and reinforcing a positive or negative stance regarding an initiative. Because of this, set the right example and establish direct interactions with a distinct circle of influencers in your business. Based on the size of the company, this could be 2 – 20 people. But it is critically important to create a trustworthy allegiance with the organizational influencers. Answer the hard questions for them, ease any uncertainly, and be as transparent as possible. This will resonate 10-fold and build the path to foster any new initiatives for the company.
The right measuring stick: The actions that institute change may see disruption at first. Asking people to follow a new process, embrace new technology or accept a shift in organizational culture can cause frustrations in the workforce. When you couple that with only subtle signs that the change is working as intended, it’s easy to second guess the plan. How you measure and communicate the success of an initiative is critical. Identify the objective and subjective means to gauge impact of a change. Let the organization consume this information in multiple ways but deliver a consistent message. For example, a digital transformation initiative will have several underlying projects focused on people, process and technology. Identify key levers on each of these fronts that can be communicated to instill confidence and evidence that the change is achieving the targeted goals. Proving efficiencies gained, customer success stories and advanced technology integrations will get people excited. Communicate little wins on any of these fronts often and through multiple channels. Don’t rely on formal communications to get the job done. Water cooler conversations coupled with consistent messages from leadership will build the trust needed to follow through on the change.
A change management plan is imperative to any company initiative. But more often than not, even the best strategy or new initiative is flawed without a simple yet robust communication plan. Consider our communication structure here and tweak it to your culture and style.
OneVision consultants are experts at change management and orchestrating the right communication plan tailored to your company. Let’s talk about your next business initiative.