The most common problem business leaders have when attempting to implement major change across an organisation is that employees are five steps behind them.
We’ve all experierienced first-hand or heard of poor change management especially in times of major organisational change. One of my CEO clients, the head of a highly productive and profitable business that employed more than 150 people nationally, and acquired a competitor’s business with 100 employees. Through excellent change management and an effective leadership style the business kicked its financial goals and successfully retained all employees 12 months after the integration, after having made 50 people redundant. Versus another organisation with without leadership buy-in to their change management plan and a non-inclusive leadership style experienced high turnover, lost major clients, and low morale. My below 7 Step Change Management Plan is essential to any busy planning major organisational change.
7 Step Change Management Plan
Like everything else, you need a change management plan developed well before the change itself begins. This plan will guide you through the significant amount of work required to implement the change successfully. Your job is to lead your people on the change journey. You need to paint a picture for them, one that has definite shades and contours that will make clear what the end results of the change will be. Be particularly clear about the purpose of the change and what has made it necessary. When leading organisational change, there are seven key considerations:
You can’t go it alone. Organisational change is frequently a long and challenging journey, but it’s often an exciting one as well. CEOs need to get their leadership team on board with the change from the very beginning.
2. Change champions
In addition, to your leadership team, you will need to enlist the help of ‘change champions’ throughout the organisation. These will be the people who understand the change and its benefits most clearly. As strong and persuasive advocates for the change, they will play a key role in getting the rest of your team on board (especially those who are on the fence).
Since organisational change will affect every person in your business, every person needs to be involved in the change. This can be done in many ways, including all employee meetings, team meetings and one-on-one discussions.
Consultation involves four key steps:
- Explain the change.
- Listen to feedback from employees about the change.
- Take on board any relevant and key points about the change.
- Respond to the employee’s feedback and suggestions.
When presenting a change to your people, you will need to address the one burning question that is on their minds: What’s in it for me (WIIFM)? The WIIFM needs to be considered in all your internal communications.
As you approach organisational change, it is important that the leadership team develop and agree on what the key messages about the change will be. These are the messages that will be used in all communications with stakeholders, including employees and customers. To ensure that they build trust rather than create suspicion, these messages need to be transparent and consistent.
You need to stand in front of your people and explain to them in a visionary way the purpose of the change and how it will benefit the business and hopefully each of them as employees. You need to inspire them to participate in the change process, ideally by telling a powerful story, one that reinforces your vision and the reasons behind the change. They need to see in vivid colours how the change will positively impact the business, its members, and its customers.
Powerful storytelling will make this an inspirational speech, not a process speech. Leave the processes to the managers, who can brief their teams later on the details of the change management plan.
Communication is a critical success factor in any successful organisational change project. At times of change people need constant and consistent information about how the change is progressing and their WIIFM. I strongly recommend over-communicating rather than under-communicating. Never has an employee said that they are receiving too much information.
Develop opportunities for employees to provide input into the change, such as project and team meetings, emails, one-on-ones, or private Facebook groups.
Ensure you regularly update all employees on how the change is progressing. These updates should focus on the wins and realised benefits for customers and employees.
Written by Claire Harrison, Author of The CEO Secret Guide to Managing and Motivating Employees, and Managing Director of Harrison Human Resources.