This is the second article in our series on the changing ways of working, where we have identified five key factors for successfully embedding change. This article focuses on being clear and transparent.
A key factor in achieving and sustaining changes to ways of working is being clear about what is being asked and why. This may sound obvious, but how many times have your ways of working been mentioned as an afterthought, and then not been followed up? It saves so much time and effort later, if the desired change is clearly defined, including the honest reasons. Ways of working changes will be far more successful, and far more likely to be sustained if they are presented in a way which tells it as it is. No spin, no euphemisms, no missing stuff out because its uncomfortable. Only plain, straight forward language.
In the context of coming out of COVID, there will naturally be a lot of uncertainty, so it will be important to be specific about the end goal (the way we want to work), and why (why it’s good for you, and why it’s good for the business). It will be equally important to be honest about the uncertainty in the meantime. Let’s not try and control what we can’t.
An effective approach for tackling this is developing a clear strategy for your change, which can then be used to create a compelling narrative. This strategy should answer a series of simple questions:
- Why are we doing this? (including why it will be good for everybody)
- Why is it bad for everybody NOT to do it?
- What do we expect to be different as a result?
- How will ways of working change specifically?
- What do we expect from you? For example, from senior management, from operations, from field-based colleagues?
- What is included and what is not included? (in other words, a clear scope statement)
These questions may sound simple, but of course it will take a little bit of time, and a focussed piece of work to drive out a strategy which has full leadership team alignment.
Recently, Afiniti worked with a client embarking on a major transformation programme – the biggest that organisation had ever attempted. Arriving just as the Programme was being formed, we were able to help the Steering Group develop a Programme Strategy. From the strategy it was clear that the expectation was a fundamental shift in ways of working away from reactive support activities, towards proactive value adding activities. It was also clear that this would necessitate a significant change in skills, a new operating model, and new roles. And yet, at that point in time, the Programme vehicle which had been established had no resources focused on any of the above. They were 100% committed to selecting an ERP vendor. So, we were able to help the client create a dedicated focus on operating model and business change, and this was where the Steering Group focussed their attention. Without this clarity on the Programme strategy, the organisation would not have been putting the resources and investment into the areas which would achieve the intended outcomes.
The message is simple, have a clear strategy for the change you are embarking on. Make sure the big important questions are answered. Then use that strategy to guide your transformation activities, investment, and priorities.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help your organisation with its business change challenges and opportunities drop us a line and we’ll get straight back to you.