The best leaders know that to be successful in implementing change, they must communicate the value of change for their department. This requires ensuring that employees understand why the change is important. Leaders should talk to them about the benefits of the change – not just for the organization and the department, but for the individual employees.
Leaders who engage their departments in change focus on responding to questions such as:
- Why the change initiative is being launched.
- How the way the work gets done will change.
- The value of the change to the organization, the department and individual employees.
- How the change will impact the work that is done as well as individual roles and responsibilities.
It also helps to consider past change initiatives implemented in the organization, with a particular focus on whether or not the following has occurred:
- No obvious reason for the change to occur
- Lack of understanding around the need for change
- No vision or mission shared by leadership
- Insufficient or no communications about the change initiative
- No buy-in and support for the change from throughout the organization
- Insufficient or no training for those affected by the change initiative
- Significant negative gossip about what is going on
Any of these situations creates an uncomfortable environment for change and must be addressed for a future change initiative to be successful. It is imperative for leadership to acknowledge and address what went poorly with change initiatives in the past to move on to have a successful future change initiative.
The larger the department, the more channels that should be used for communicating about change. Certainly an all-department meeting should be held initially to ensure that all employees get the information at the same time. From there, the leader should consider small group meetings, one-on-one sessions, email and other communicational channels to answer questions and continue to engage employees in the change.
The value of change should be more focused on the benefits to the individuals over the benefits to the department. Too often leaders focus on the good of the department over the good of the employees, but – while employees certainly care about the department and the organization as a whole – there is also (and understandably) a concern about the self. For example, leaders might promote
- The opportunity to learn new skills
- The ability to further engage in the organization
- The opportunity to be part of something bigger
- The ability to shape and define the change
- The ability to take on leadership roles in implementing the change
The more leaders involve employees in change, and highlight the value of the change, the more likely employees will be engaged in the change and therefore the change is likely to be a success.