When it comes to introducing internal change to your organization, a little preparation goes a long way. Whether it’s a new tool or service, a new process or policy, or even something bigger like transitioning a leader or merging with another company, it’s important to consider how your employee base will receive this information and act upon it.
With the right plan in place, you can ease any disruptions to your workforce and help foster strong adoption, all which will lead to long term success.
Internal changes are par for the course at work. But helping your employees navigate them (or not doing so effectively) can make or break your new program or solution. Here are tips to help effectively navigate change.
Having worked in both small and large organizations, I certainly know that the only constant at work is change. From onboarding a feedback tool open to 24,000 employees to renaming a customer support function impacting 10,000 agents, corporate changes mean corporate agility is required. In order to be agile and do business effectively, leaders and managers must make strategic decisions to help introduce solutions or processes that will drive better results.
The first steps
Great! Procurement has just told you your new tool has been approved. What now? Have you considered how this new solution and process will be received and adopted internally? Depending on your investment or the program scale, the change management process could take a few days or even a few months. If you have it, leveraging the luxury of time to manage bigger changes to ensure employee compliance and satisfaction is key to smoother change management.
Put together a task force team
Assemble the key players and assign roles and responsibilities to each: HR, I&D, Communications, IT — these and other core teams will each play a crucial role in driving the success of this project. This also means assigning a project manager (who may or may not be you). Create a group chat, a weekly meeting, and a kick off discussion to outline the situation and tasks. Leverage project management tools to assign tasks and stay on track. Encourage people to speak up at the table and call upon those whose voices aren’t the loudest. It’s up to you to rally the troops!
Rely on weekly check-ins and asynchronous connection
You can never overshare when your task force is preparing for an internal change. Ensuring the lines of communication are always open, that information is openly shared with key players, and ensuring that everyone knows they don’t have to wait for next Tuesday’s weekly meeting to escalate an urgent issue on a Thursday are all great tactics to set the ground rules with.
Be empathetic to employees and see it from their perspective
What will employees really think of this? What challenges could they face? What will they like most? You know your team best, so carrying out an exercise or — better yet — asking for a few people’s feedback early on, will help you prepare for what they need. Would they prefer to be informed in a town hall or over email? Will they need training or will a simple 1-pager do it? Assess their needs and build accordingly.
Lean on external vendors, if any are involved
If you are onboarding a new solution, there’s a good chance that the company provides tools and resources. At Cardata, for instance, we provide onboarding and training to new users, so our customers don’t have to spend time and resources doing this internally. We also manage support requests and encourage users to leverage our help website, for example. Find out what vendor resources are available (and should be free!) to you.
Prepare for post-launch hiccups
Once your solution or process has launched and is being used by employees, keep your ear to the ground for their feedback. Set up a feedback process or loop so you can capture employee thoughts post-launch. Some bumps may appear along the way, like system issues or even adoption rates. Find a way to sustain the message and ensure your teams adopt the new change, don’t just assume one message will do the trick.
Once you have planned and rolled out the changes, think about doing a PIR (performance in review) to assess how things went so you can apply learnings to the next round. Remember, your organization has a specific culture, so leveraging a voice and tone that your employees are familiar with will go a long way in your communications. If it feels natural, then do it!
When managed effectively, most internal change can be seen as innovative and even a value-add to employees, all which affect your employer brand. Ensuring you have a solid plan, a clearly defined project team and deliverables, and an ear to the ground when it comes to employee feedback are all important steps when it comes to introducing change.