Change management is one of the fundamental pillars of an organisational journey. It can make or break your strategy. How effectively organisations manage change will be the single biggest influencer in trust between the Leadership and its stakeholders and employees. In the current economic climate; change is embedded into organisational psyche. The path to a vision or strategy is far more complex when the world economy is volatile: organisations have to react quickly to external pressures.
The key to achieving high engagement and ‘buy in’ to your vision is to take people on your organisational journey. The mechanism in which to do that is through effective communications. By following a few simple rules you can build change into your culture and use it to your advantage. If you fail to recognise change as a driver behind engagement; trust can diminish and it can lead to barriers to profitability and productivity. It can also create cultural and organisational tension; which makes organic growth and innovation more difficult.
So, it is important to get change right. These are the 5 tips I would use for effectively managing change:
- Transparency: It isn’t always easy to be open during times of change. But, it is important that you are open, honest and transparent when you are communicating. Whilst people naturally want to know the detail; the essential thing to do is ‘set the scene’. Provide context behind the story; and when you are then in a position to communicate; your stakeholders are more likely to understand the rationale and thinking behind the decision making process.
- Conversation: During times of change it is essential that you engage in dialogue with your employees if you want them to buy into decisions. The simplest way to do this is to create regular mechanisms for feedback and to increase visibility of your Leaders. A chasm of information and a lack of visibility of Leaders during times of change are both risking rumour and speculation leading the narrative.
- Narrative: During times of change you have to own your narrative. Changes need to be communicated with a strong and credible voice; the message doesn’t always have to be delivered by Leaders. Using opinion formers and key influencers inside and outside your business gives that extra credibility to your narrative that can be the real difference to people buying into it. The channel is also important: try to use face to face where possible either through digital (Video, webcast) or Road shows.
- Stakeholders: It is essential that you understand your stakeholders when communicating change. Tailor your communications to your audience. There are cultural complexities in every business; and finding a one size fits all communication isn’t always easy; but a good method to use is to try and understand issues from every cultural viewpoint, and tailor your messaging accordingly.
- Culture: If you embed change into your cultural framework it becomes part of your everyday organisational behaviour rather than focused on a specific project or period. Build change into your values and behaviours so that people learn to embrace it, not fear it. Change can be unsettling, but it can also be an opportunity. Too often people fear change rather than seek opportunity: building it into your culture gives you a platform to use change as the driver for innovation and growth.
Change is now an every day part of organisational life; those organisations that manage it effectively can gain a real competitive advantage. The outputs from good change management include a more engaged workforce, better productivity, and ultimately more confidence in your vision and brand.
Good communications and good leadership are exclusive to one another; if you get both correct, then you will have a strong platform to managing organisational change.