Do you want to save everyone time, energy and other valuable resources the next time you implement a change in your team or organization?
If so, change the message from “Get on board or get out of the way!” to “How can we together make this Change Initiative successful?”.
As covered in part 1, engaging your workforce in your Change requires building partnerships with them that bring real, lasting change.
Changing the above message is a great first step; creating a clear and attractive path to play on comes next.
Remember, people prefer meaningful participation in a Change over having it sold to them (buy-in).
In part 2 of this 3-part guide you’ll learn the second step to successfully implement change in your team, group or organization…the human way.
STEP 2: ENGAGE WORKFORCE.
Once you’ve engaged your workforce in your vision you have to make participation in the Change worth their time and energy.
This means creating a safe environment where they have an opportunity to contribute and make a difference – a place where their contributions have an influence (i.e. community vs. dictatorship).
Remember, giving them an active voice in the entire change process is critical for success.
At this stage in the process, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone responds differently to change.
Therefore, you need to understand the Change Curve and be prepared for different responses at different stages: Denial, Anger, Exploring, Acceptance.
Don’t be frustrated or surprised by push back. Resistance is a natural reaction; it’s also a great chance for you to build and strengthen your case.
The key to leading and implementing change is through real employee engagement (i.e. meaningful collaboration between managers and staff – joint decision-making, co-creating solutions, etc.).
It’s equally important to recognize that employees want transparency and openness – new research shows that management transparency goes hand-in-hand with employee happiness 94% of the time.
So let them know what’s going on – what’s working, what’s not. Ask their advice on how to fix what needs fixing; ask them how to keep things on track.
A happy workforce is much more likely to participate than an unhappy one, right?
Here are 3 guidelines to help you engage your workforce:
1. Engage Them ASAP – this could be when you announce the change or even in the development of the change vision.
Remember, your goal is to inspire and involve them in the change vision from the start. Wouldn’t you want their input on this?
2. Involve Them Continually – frequent interaction and communication should be built into the implementation plan.
Here a few ways you could do this:
a) Design/brainstorming sessions where you ask them to help you come up with solutions for improving operations. Or, challenge them to create something new that will improve on the current change process and keep things moving forward.
b) Town Hall type meetings with all level of employees where they can ask questions, voice concerns, hear about ideas in progress, etc.
Both of these formats are a great way to fill in knowledge gaps and share information. They also foster cross-functional collaboration – a huge organizational opportunity of a Change Initiative.
Whenever possible look to create opportunities to learn how to work across hierarchy and organizational boundaries. Breaking the toxic ‘Silo Mentality’ and other benefits await.
3. Use Technology – use social media or other internal platforms to connect with them and allow them to connect and share with each other.
This promotes two-way communication and will appeal to the younger employees – chances are they’re already using it for their own communication and information gathering.
PITFALLS & PRE-EMPTORS.
Here are 3 potential pitfalls to watch out for & 3 tips to help you avoid them:
Pitfall 1: The Productivity Question –
Leaders and managers could resist high engagement of workforce as it takes time away from daily business, i.e. “productivity”.
Pre-Emptor 1: Alignment of Priorities –
Make sure management is aware of the necessity of high workforce engagement and aligned in their commitment to it.
If management is not fully committed the chance of successful implementation is very low.
Short term sacrifice is a small price to pay for long-term benefits.
Pitfall 2: Information Overload / Discrepancy –
Not all employees may not be ready to receive the same information at the same time – or at least not in the same amount of detail.
Information overload could cause some people to resist the change or to shut down.
Another risk is the classic rumor mill – if people feel that they’re not receiving the same info as others or the information they do receive is different, rumors can start to fly.
Pre-Emptor 2: Readiness to React
What you share, how much and when should be part of the implementation plan. However, be prepared to react and adjust when critical situations arise.
Don’t worry – you can never get this 100% right. The important thing is to keep your eyes and ears open so you can react swiftly.
After all, change is an emotional thing for everyone.
Pitfall 3: Premature Declaration of Victory –
One of the biggest mistakes George W. Bush made during his 8 years as US President was appearing in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner right after the Iraq Invasion in 2003.
As would soon be evident to everyone, the mission was far from accomplished.
Not only did he lose further credibility with those who already opposed the mission, but he lost much-needed support from those who had supported him before this blunder.
Pre-Emptor 3: Long-Haul Commitment –
Don’t make the same mistake with your change initiative by declaring victory too early. Or, without first checking how others see the state of “the mission”.
Successful implementation of real, lasting change requires a company-wide commitment over the long haul. If it’s only from a few, it won’t work.
As we covered in this post, as soon as you’ve inspired your workforce in your change vision you need to actively engage them.
To do this effectively you need to:
- Get their input up front and whenever possible
- Create opportunities for them to consistently contribute
- Be aware of the pitfalls and ready to react swiftly
When people see and feel that their contributions have a real influence, real change will begin to take root.
Stay tuned for step 3. In the meantime, I need your help…
Please share with me below how you inspire and engage others in change? What has helped you implement change in your team, group or organization? What has hindered you?