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Have Conversations to Engage Employees in a Change Initiative

When an organization is about to launch a change initiative, it is wise to engage employees in conversations about that change. Sharing information – such as why the change has to happen and the future vision of the organization after the change is implemented – enables employees to begin to adapt to the change that is coming.

Additionally, engage employees in how the change might look. Those individuals who are doing the work of the business day-after-day are best able to help you design the change in a way that will enable you to meet the organizational goals of the change but also enable for them, the employees, to participate in implementing the change so that it also benefits them.

A Client Story

One of Abudi Consulting Group’s clients, a marketing and public relations firm, needed to update processes to accommodate new technology being implemented in the organization. The employees were aware of the new technology being implemented and, while excited about that, were less excited when they learned that processes, which they had become accustomed to, were going to be changing. In particular, the fear was that processes would be changed that would impact their ability to serve a growing and increasingly demanding client base.

In order to calm fears, we worked with the SVP of Technology to engage employees in conversations about processes that were going to be impacted. We did this in a variety of ways – through focus groups, department meetings, and via an internal website for the project.

We focused first on explaining which processes would need to change and why we believed that was the case. We enabled employees to push back if they felt a chance was unnecessary and, rather, with a bit of adaption the process could effectively remain as is. We then asked employees to help us to redefine those processes which we agreed upon needed to be changed in order for them to be compatible with the technology to be implemented.

Employees then took over. The SVP of Technology set up small project teams to manage each process change initiative which was launched and enabled for time and support for employees to work on those initiatives. Rather than management determining how to change the processes, employees at a variety of non-management levels took the initiative.

What Happened…

The employees were highly engaged in the process change work. They not only updated the processes which were agreed upon to be updated based on the new technology project; but also identified a number of other sub-processes which needed significant change due to other process change work. Additionally, they engaged other employees throughout the organization who made suggestions on how to improve other work based on the new technology implementation.

What we saw where engaged employees who were conversing and sharing ideas across functions to improve how the work got down.

In Summary…

Engaging employees in conversations about change initiatives enables them to understand more about the change. Engaging them in supporting what has to be adapted within the organization because of the change – in this client situation changes to processes due to a new technology implementation – enables them to take control of their work. Many times I have seen employees resist change because they are feeling a lack of control over their own work. Enabling their involvement, especially when it directly impacts them and how they work, increases support for the change.

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