The success of any transformational change programme is clearly contingent upon the engagement and buy-in from the people who will be a part of that change, and responsible for “living” it moving forwards. It’s our experience, from years of working alongside organisations on change management projects that there are two defining steps you can take to give you the best chance of a successful outcome. These two steps are:
- Spending time to find the truly compelling reasons for everyone to engage in the change and communicating it openly to build trust. We call this creating the believable case.
- Equipping everyone with some key skills to help them engage with and manage through the change process, ensuring the change is successfully delivered.
Spending time on these two steps in advance of the change process or very early in the process lay strong foundations to ensure you get the highest level of acceptance, buy-in and engagement.
Ensuring priority is given to these people-focused actions will make any transformation involving your people, processes or technology easier to implement because your team will be ready, willing and able to jump on board with enthusiasm.
Building a believable case
Acceptance of, adaptation to, and engagement with change occur when individuals believe there is a valid reason for it. Creating a believable case that others can buy into and view as credible is a critical first step. Demonstrating a direct relationship between the change and the benefits that each individual and team will get when they plunge into the new ways of working will set you off on the right pathway.
The believable case may need to be adapted for different departments, teams or organisational level. It should be developed with the specific employee audience in mind and give a clear answer to any underlying questions that could be a barrier to engaging with change, such as: “What does it mean to me, my role and the business?”, “Is it worth it?” and “What will the benefits be?”.
When planning any organisational transformational change engaging at all levels of the organisation in advance of it and understanding the realities of people’s roles and challenges will give invaluable information to help create the believable case. In our experience, many transformational change requirements are accepted across the business however, they are accepted potentially for different reasons. For example, a major reason for senior stakeholders to transform the customer experience could be to focus on financial success, to gain and retain more customers or perhaps to achieve customer service metrics that set the business apart from competitors. The same change programme could be seen beneficially by frontline customer service team members, because it will give them more skills to be able to handle customer enquiries and feedback in a more empowered way. Both reasons are valid and important and would form the basis of the believable case at each level – a respectfully crafted rationale focused on these outcomes, appropriately delivered, will enable people in their own area to feel they can believe in the case, and it has value for them as well as the business.
Communicating the believable case
Communicating the change honestly and transparently to your people will be vital to creating the culture of trust you need to take change successfully forward into the business. Building trust will help people to come on the journey with you, so communicating the believable case needs to be done with the audience in mind.
Creating a sense of togetherness will help employees feel part of the journey, so tapping into an overarching and believable case that can be communicated at a corporate level, with follow-up communications to focus on the specific benefits by team or area will set you up for success. Presenting the team-level benefits will demonstrate that you have listened and understood the realities of everyday working, in this way reinforcing trust.
A sense of involvement and a connection with the rationale for change will help your people say “Yes, I’m in because I believe it will make a difference to me and the organisation and it will help me make a difference to others too.”
Equipping people with tools to thrive through change
Understanding what skills and behaviours are needed to deliver the change when considered upfront can help people to adapt to new ways of working and help it to stick. Every transformational change programme is likely to require some new skills or behaviours to embed it into the culture of the business. Therefore, it’s important to identify the skills needed to support change up front and plan a robust training programme to upskill or reskill your people beforehand.
A successful change programme with a strong positive momentum is helped along by people in the organisation having the following skills:
– Ability to evaluate the change situation, understanding the areas that they can have influence and involvement in the change.
– Ability to self-manage emotions surrounding the changes that are happening and be equipped to manage any uncertainty or negative feelings to stay in a positive productive state.
– Strive to create and sustain positive momentum via effective, optimistic and constructive communication.
– Exhibit high levels of collaboration, co-creation, and cooperation with colleagues, customers and teams.
Equipping people with self-awareness and self-management tools in advance of change to build their resilience, enable them to focus on solutions, options and ways forward is a positive way to take steps to safeguard wellbeing. Adding to this, strategies so that they can communicate solutions positively and constructively will enable them to engage with the change and be a force for positively driving it forward.
Putting in place a thorough programme that prepares individuals to embrace the change will lay the groundwork for a successful change programme, regardless of the type of change necessary. Making this the first step of your transformation plan, prior to any changes to systems, policies, or processes will allow employees to engage in the change process with an optimal, positive attitude and the behavioural skills needed to make it a success.