Change in companies doesn’t happen on its own. It requires perseverance and thoughtful change management.
acondas supports its clients in implementing complex changes, and that involves getting employees on board. In our experience, it is critical to pay attention to three things:
1. Convince rather than enforce
Employees often reject change because they either don’t know exactly what’s going to happen or they are not convinced that the changes make sense.
In our projects, we emphasize transparency and support our clients in their change communication:
– What exactly will change for each employee?
– Why does this change make sense, not only for the company but also for each individual?
– How can each employee implement the change and what knowledge and skills are needed to do so?
– What timeline will the changes follow?
Important: We develop the change story together with the employees affected instead of dictating it to them
2. Motivate instead of paying lip service
Set a good example! We often see companies starting complex change programs but their management teams aren’t out there setting a good example, thus jeopardizing the credibility of their change effort. Practical experience illustrates that people tend to look to role models for guidance on how to behave. In a company, respected superiors or senior colleagues can play this role. If employees have the impression that their company role models haven’t changed their mindsets and behaviors and are just paying lip service, they won’t change their mindset and behavior either.
We therefore recommend that you become a role model and lead by example. Consciously and visibly act on key aspects of the change – e.g. in an upcoming team meeting, a feedback discussion or in delegating tasks. Try to incorporate change in everything you do. That’s the best way to demonstrate your sincerity and protect yourself from falling back into old mindsets and behaviors.
You won’t reach each and every employee. Don’t worry, you don’t have to: Instead, apply the “three-thirds” rule:
– Try to get one third of your employees excited about the change ideas right from the outset
– Collaborate with this one-third to convince and motivate the middle third of your employees who are unsure
– Don’t battle for the last third of your employees who reject change of any kind as a matter of principle. Part of this group will jump on the bandwagon later, and you won’t be able to reach the others
This approach will only work if you are very familiar with what your employees think about the planned changes. In our projects, we always make it a high priority to learn what and how the organization thinks about the changes – not only on the command bridge but especially in the machine room.
3. Support experiential learning
Employees often reject change if they fear they will not be able to meet the requirements associated with change. People tend to ignore weaknesses or uncertainties and try to avoid being confronted with them.
In our projects, when the change implies new expectations with regard to content, scope and ways of working, we clarify and stress why such changes are needed and what path must be followed to get there. We coach employees in their new tasks or processes and support their development following the principles of “experiential learning”:
– We introduce new skills required by employees, often in short training and communication cycles
– We let the employees try out the new work processes and support them in brief but timely feedback Loops
– Together, we reflect on experiences gained during this “test phase” and discuss ideas for further improvement
– We continue the cycle, letting the employees gather further experience until they have mastered the new skills and processes
If you consider these three factors of change in your upcoming implementation projects – convince, motivate and support experiential learning – you will be on course to successfully anchor change in your organization.
If you have questions about how to implement change successfully or about our consulting approach, feel free to contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Picture source cover photo: Brian Jackson – stock.adobe.com