3 Keys to Helping Your Employees Succeed With Change

“Three Keys to Helping Your Employees Succeed with Change” was originally published by The American Management Association (AMA) Playbook in September 2018.

Organizations depend on teamwork. As a result, the old adage “every player counts” is top of mind throughout any organizational change – including organization design. When every employee understands their role in the organization’s strategic plan, the strategy lives up to its potential.  How do you help your employees succeed with change?

A critical element of organization design is helping employees understand and perform their roles in alignment with company strategy. To do this, provide three key things to your team:

  1. Explaining the “Why” – Most people naturally resist change, and there are proven neurophysiological reasons for this phenomenon. Knowing the reasons behind change helps employees override the reflex to resist. Every employee should be able to articulate two “why’s” – 1) why the change is happening and 2) why it’s important.
  2. Clarifying Scope – Uncertainty and confusion lowers morale, creates delays, and interferes with productivity and profitability. Taking the time to establish exactly what the change will and will not affect and the scope of implementation helps ensure smooth strategy execution.
  3. Providing Appropriate Tools – New strategies and procedures require different tools; asking employees to try to adapt old tools to new work results in backsliding into old behaviors. In addition to providing any tools appropriate for the work itself, it’s helpful to give tools to navigate the change process.

A Case Study in Successful Change

For example, a client upgrading a product development process fulfills these three principles. The ultimate goal of the change is improving transparency and faster speed to market. In addition to helping with organization design, AlignOrg’s role includes ensuring strategy alignment during the new design roll-out.

As a result, employees understand the changes and successfully handle them because the company uses a variety of methods in the three areas.

Explaining Why: Techniques to help employees understand the “why” behind the changes include:

  • Allowing enough time for employees to assimilate the change
  • Consistently and regularly updating employees about the change
  • Offering opportunities to ask questions on a regular basis

Opportunities for direct interaction and questions include both formal and informal sessions.  Time efficiency avoids information overload and allows maximum time to address employee questions and concerns.

Clarifying Scope: The company clearly defines the scope of change early on, identifying the processes that will and won’t be affected.  For example, they specifically designate an existing resourcing and prioritization process as out of scope, in spite of the relation and intersection with the changing product development process.  In addition, they also clarify how the new process relates to, aligns with, and supports the existing management system.

Providing Tools: Employees are given multiple tools to help them understand and adjust to new roles and processes. These include documents such as accountability checklists, training guides, and process charts.  In addition, they receive formal training on all aspects of the change, including the strategy behind it all.

Ultimately, detailed preparation pays off, resulting a top-notch successful strategic implementation. Because every employee thoroughly understands the “why”, and is given the time and resources they need to accept the change and execute roles, they take ownership of the new process. The result?  It rolls out without a hitch.

Investing in Change

These preparations take time and effort. But leaders who explain the “why”, define the scope, and provide the tools necessary for successful change achieve greater buy-in and a much smoother transition.

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