Welcome to the August edition of Afiniti’s Business Change newsletter. We discuss how to Make Change Stick: how to communicate change and how to improve performance and increase change capability.
For more conversation on business change, you can join our Change management, communications and learning group on LinkedIn here.
Afiniti is an award winning business change consultancy that delivers change with a people focus, producing sustainable changes in behaviours, mind-sets and working practices.
The new Afiniti website
With a new look and content our new site describes what we do and our experience in managing and delivering change. Please take a look around. We’re always grateful for any feedback so email firstname.lastname@example.org with your views.
Change Readiness Assessment
Our change readiness assessment uncovers where you are now, establishes the rationale for change and what needs to be done to accelerate change and most importantly make it sustainable.
The assessment is based on our 6Lever™ model, which looks at key capabilities that underpin successful change delivery. Find out more here
Are middle managers seen unfairly during business change?
Consultant Anthony Edwards looked at how we regard middle managers during change.
Middle managers often get a bad press but those of us working in business change know that they can be a big asset if involved and engaged the right way at the right time.
In this month’s in depth article, we look at the emotional impact of change and how communication and learning can change mindsets and behaviours.
How do you communicate your Change Story?
Anyone managing a large change programme or project knows well that it can be a complex journey moving from your current business to your future state. For example, you may want to move your employees from their current computers to tablets, or you may want to up-skill staff and equip them with new skills.
It’s easy to get your head stuck in the detail. You spend weeks, sometimes months, planning and strategising. Sometimes people forget about the delivery to the end user. Ultimately you know that the company and staff will benefit from your change project. But are they ready for it? How do they feel about it and have they been fully engaged?
Engage them early
Analysing and engaging stakeholders and your user community early is integral to ensuring you know how different people feel about:
- Change in your organisation in general
- The outcomes and benefits of your project
- The journey that everyone will take part in
This knowledge will avoid some potential friction with stakeholder groups and make for more resilient project plans.
A reassuring leadership presence
Leaders have a vital role in reassuring people that the change is needed and beneficial, through conveying the vision and the future state of the business. They play a big role in what Lewin calls ‘unfreezing’ – getting people to start to consider another way of working and loosening existing emotional ties. To encourage people to move forward they have to see more of an incentive to adopting the change than sticking with what they know.
Make them feel part of your journey
It simply isn’t enough telling people about the work you do, they want to be included and feel that they can have a real impact. Letting others contribute to your project can help you share the burden of some of your work, and it can also help you share some of the responsibilities and make for a smoother journey for everyone involved.
Sharing is caring
Employees expect you to run a transparent business, and running a transparent project will help you prevent negative opinions from being formed. Ensure everybody knows about what progress you have made. If you fall behind, clearly explain why. This will limit push-back from your employees, and sometimes even help you find new solutions to some of your problems.
Nobody likes to be left out. Even though different stakeholders will have a different impact on your project and not everybody will be equally influential across your company, you should aim to treat everyone equally:
- Everybody should have access to some of your project information; even if this may differ in terms of content
- Everybody should have the opportunity to leave (constructive) feedback and comment
Everybody needs something
Don’t forget that everybody has different needs, desires and expectations. While some of your employees might already be highly engaged with your work, others maybe disinterested. It is essential to find out who they are. Highly engaged end users will have the loudest voices and might overshadow some other crucial stakeholders. And you may have to invest some additional effort into turning disengaged staff into happy customers. Make them proud of your company.
Help them to collaborate and learn
Here we’re talking about making sense of change and having the ability to actively contribute as well as feeling comfortable working with new technology or processes. People can feel like change is happening to them rather than they are part of a journey. Equipping them with new skills is an engagement opportunity not to be missed. If you make the learning social you reduce silos and help people to collaborate and express feedback. It’s the combination of learning and communications that make change stick.
Tailor it for them
Customised learning and scenario based learning both deliver learning that makes sense of change for a learner’s unique role. This needs a learning consultant who knows your business (or can get to know it) and how its people work. People need time to make sense of the new technology or processes – time to learn and time to understand. Allowing people to develop their own solutions and work together with colleagues will mean they gain confidence and the change is embedded more sustainably.
Overall, it’s the meaningful combination of engagement, communications and learning that will really help people actively participate and adopt the change.