Changing Ways of Working – Clear & Transparent

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.


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Keeping People at the Heart

As we continue down this unfamiliar path, where the long-established ways of working have rapidly changed, the need for openness, flexibility and adaptability has never been more important. Now, more than ever, we should not only be thinking about the practical implications of our decisions, but also how we keep our people at the heart.

People are the most important part of an organisation. Without their skills, understanding and support, a business cannot function. They are truly central to an organisation’s success. But note, expectations and priorities are different for both employer and employee – a fact that is now more prevalent and will remain the case for the long haul.

To help keep people at the heart, and set (or build on) the foundations for a people-first culture beyond COVID-19, here are some key actions that have been applied at Afiniti. Of course, not all these actions may fit in with how your organisation operates, but regardless, by keeping people at the forefront of whatever decisions you make, you will better place your organisation to grow and develop.

Getting Feedback

At Afiniti, we encourage an open dialogue. We want to hear what people have on their minds and enable individuals to share their viewpoints. To aid this open dialogue, we took the opportunity at the end of May to conduct a Pulse Survey (via Hive), which is a short, specific engagement survey, used to provide useful information on employee satisfaction and engagement. They can be used to track the Engagement Index, KPIs, as well as other topic areas more regularly than full census surveys.

We’re proud to share that we achieved an Employee Net Promoter (eNPS) score of +64. An increase of 52% since our annual survey which took place towards the end of December 2019.

So, what is Employee Net Promoter Score and why is it so important?

Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is a measure of how likely your people are likely to recommend your company as a place to work. This measure comes from the Net Promoter Score measure which has been intrinsically linked to customer satisfaction surveys but has now been adopted internally in organisations to measure employee experience.

What does good look like?

Your eNPS score can vary from -100 to +100. A good score is anything positive, and if you’re able to get a score anywhere between 10 and 30 you’re in a good position as an organisation.

Ryan Tahmassebi (Director of People Science at Hive HR) commented:

“+64 is phenomenal and shows just how great Afiniti are doing at managing engagement even during the most difficult and challenging of times. Our current eNPS benchmark is +12, which is based on our current customer base of around 120 businesses.”

It’s important to note that there are numerous KPI tracking options, an eNPS score is just one of them. The main idea here (regardless of what you track) is around getting some form of feedback from your people to help shape your operations – it certainly does not need to be a complicated process.

Communication is Key!

There is always a temptation of not doing something because in your mind, it’s not perfect. However, in this situation especially, doing so can lead to more problems. Depending on your organisation type, people can start to generate their own myths, which lead to fears, that are near impossible to counter once they have been established. That is why having an open two-way channel of communication from the start is so important, even if as an organisation you’re not sure what to say, be open and say so, as this is a case of learning and growing for everyone, everywhere.

To ensure an open dialogue at Afiniti, we utilise numerous communication platforms to try and make things as easy as possible. Firstly, our monthly companywide meeting was re-scheduled to occur on a weekly basis, and now features the possibility for individuals to ask anonymous questions prior to the call (of course, questions can also be asked on the call). This mitigated any chance of anyone perhaps not having the confidence to speak up on a companywide call and allowed for more questions to be answered in a short space of time. We also believe in bringing your whole self to work, not only because it’s important people feel comfortable and open within a work environment, but authenticity is vital in building trust and relationships. Introduce your children, acknowledge the dog barking, go and answer the front door, these are all things that show we are human, and it really helps set a common tone.

Communication between senior management and staff is of course important for clarity, however people working from home are currently missing out on far more than that. At Afiniti, we have always encouraged a learning ethos amongst our people, and as mentioned, making things as easy as possible for our teams is vital to success. We have therefore stepped up our usage of both Microsoft Teams and Yammer, for ‘professional’ usage but also for general conversation amongst colleagues. In the past few weeks, tips on how to play guitar, video footage of children taking up the ‘office’ space and numerous animal pictures have all been shared. Again, having well-rounded internal communications is pivotal.

Evolve and Develop

Company operations should be reviewed and assessed on an ongoing basis (particularly during the current climate) to ensure they are fit for purpose and inspire learning and growth. That said, adapting a workforce to the ‘new normal’ is no easy task. COVID-19 has had, and is continuing to have, an impact never seen before. An impact that no amount of planning could have shielded entirely. However, one thing that hasn’t changed is that central to an organisation’s success, is the focus on people. By putting your people at the heart of what you do, it will better place your organisation to evolve in a positive manner.

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Making change stick by getting the whole team on board

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No matter how capable a new piece of technology, or how necessary an updated process, if you don’t get the people who are to use the system on board, your change won’t stick. Read more

The impact of storytelling on your change programme

Storytelling is one internal communication trend that keeps on gathering pace.

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The obvious choices for these roles are usually senior leaders, line managers or team leaders, however there is an untapped resource hidden in the formal organisational structure.

Formal business leaders are the natural choice to be change champions but what about the influencers within teams, departments or business units? These types of people tend to be (but not always) the more experienced in the company, typically social within groups and well respected and trusted amongst their peers. Read more