I have worked with a number of clients who believe that when employees know about a change initiative that will be happening that acceptance and commitment is already gained and the employees are on board. This is rarely, if ever, true. (Though I’m pleased to know that they have actually announced the initiative! I’ve helped a few client through a difficult change initiative when they simply began to implement the change without any “heads up” to employees.)
Step 1: Announcing that a change is in the works is simply the first step in getting commitment for the change initiative. I announce the upcoming change initiative in a number of ways – through emails, through small group or one-on-one meetings, in department meetings, via posters in the hallways, etc. – in order to reach the largest number of employees. I use this initial announcement to inform employees that we have an upcoming change initiative and to invite employees to participate in a breakfast meeting, lunch and learn session, or late afternoon coffee get-together to learn more. In this first step – I’m simply providing a “heads up” about an upcoming change initiative.
Step 2: During these meetings to learn more (I usually schedule a number of them because I know that I won’t get all employees to just one meeting and certainly in larger organizations one meeting is not sufficient.) For global organizations, I will utilize a combination of face-to-face and virtual meetings. In step 2, I focus on why the change is happening and the extent of the change (the scope of the initiative). This provides more information to employees about the initiative and begins to get them more comfortable with what is going on. I also discuss the benefits of the change initiative from both an organization perspective and, even more importantly, from the employee’s benefit. Remember – employees must understand why this change matters from a personal perspective (“what’s in it for me”) in order to embrace the change.
Step 3: Keep employees engaged and in the loop – ask for feedback, get input on the change being made, regularly check-in with people from the start of the change initiative through to implementation. By regularly checking in with employees you keep them engaged and interested in the initiative; you enable for questions and concerns to be brought forward so they can be addressed and you get people excited about the upcoming change. Once employees start working with the new change – check in regularly – ask for feedback and be available to address problems that arise to get them corrected.
Step 4: Continue to solicit ways to make the change even better. Once you get employees to offer up ways to improve upon the change even further – you have them truly committed! Encourage this behavior. Too often after we implement a change we stop engaging employees because they begin to work with the change. However, if we keep them engaged, we ensure they continue to work with the change and make it work for them by offering ways to improve it even further.