In our work with organizations in the Middle East and LHH globally, we have realized firsthand that the only constant you will encounter in the business world today is change. It is the one constant in the equation of the new marketplace and business landscapes that we all have to embrace.
Our work has enabled us to monitor the impact that employee engagement and effective communication using all channels has on change initiatives and transformation projects. We have at times observed change efforts failing or being abandoned midway. This can often be attributed to lack of employee participation resulting in employee resistance making implementation of planned changes Research shows that a big factor related to resistance is a poor flow of communication during the change process. That said, excellent communication presents itself as a vital factor in ensuring change occurs exactly as planned Not only will it eliminate skepticisms that are common during such a crucial stage, but it will also go a long way to minimize the fatigue your employees have to undergo during such a change. Effective communication, in other words, mentally and psychologically prepares the staff for what is to come. Add to that teaching an understanding of resilience and how to be resilient in the workplace and you can facilitate a successful period of change.
In a business setting where change is frequently experienced, organizations face a number of challenges. Leaders are tasked with coming up with strategies as well as creating a conducive climate that’s able to counter challenges such as global competition, the introduction of new technology, flattening structures, reengineering and downsizing. In such a scenario, leaders could seek to come up with effective communication and information strategies in their organizations for a smooth change process. The following ideas could draw a rough picture of how to go about it.
Assembling a Team while Maintaining Employee Engagement
The very first thing any firm needs to do while going through a significant structural or organizational change is formulating a powerful and proactive team.
You already have your narrative defined; it’s now time to ensure all levels in the organization are well-equipped with the right tools and the right story. You will find a good number of firms issuing out executive decrees from the top and leaving out top-line managers from the equation. This greatly limits how the message is embraced and interpreted by the employees. A study done in the Gallup’s State of the American Manager Report indicates 70% of the variance in employee engagement emanating from managers. Include Middle Managers in the flow of information and communication as they have relationships with the workforce that cannot be underestimated.
In addition to that, information disseminated within all layers of a team has a greater impact than when the same is being pushed down from leadership. It’s important to build and cement relationships at this stage with as many team players as possible by sharing your vision, goals, aspirations and hopes as you clearly define what’s in it for them. This goes a long way to foster trust even in the long run.
Empowering Leaders & Managers to Lead Through Change
During a major change, employees are often required to have a change in skill sets and adopt a certain behavior. The success rate here is five times more successful when senior leaders are observed modelling the change.
To fully empower managerial heads and other leaders, the change leads and top executives need to guide them and assist them to grasp the fundamentals of change. They should clearly outline and define how they are expected to behave during the change process, understand how individuals can react differently and navigate change as well as address how to counteract roadblocks and areas of resistance.
Craft a Narrative That Ensures & Enhances Employee Engagement
Your narrative needs to be not only authentic but should also motivate and inspire your audience. This means every change being implemented should reflect your brand narrative so that the reason for change is continually supported and underscored.
Clear and visionary communication that describes the goals, recognizes accomplishments and establishes a company-wide mindset will foster continuous improvement and innovation.
Structure the communication plan – from preparation of the content to the delivery and ultimately the follow-up messages and communications that will continue over time.
The narrative should start by clearly showing the bigger picture of the intended results. This then serves as the foundation for how you communicate about the change moving forward.
Overcommunication during the change process is actually considered very positive for any firm seeking to undergo change. This is supported with findings indicating how continuous communication serves as a leading factor in a transformation’s success (McKinsey 2015 study).
Communication is the Key to Success!
To build a reliable communication system, change leads need to institute different channels of communication and create varied platforms for employees to air out their concerns. The channels could include bulletins, emails, video, workshops, intranets, speaking forums as well as focus groups.
Answer questions where possible and be honest when answers are not immediately available. Use forums to give employees a chance to make suggestions as this fosters involvement and engagement. Continuous communication should be planned post-launch to continue supporting and directing employees towards bigger goals.
Communication really is an integral part of the change process and when planned and managed well can facilitate a smoother change process, ensure better engagement levels andhigher probability of reaching intended targets and goals. We are passionate about partnering with organizations – if you are in the midst of change please reach out to us for ways in which we can support you to improve your employee engagement.