While humans may like the occasional shake-up, most of us are creatures of habit who enjoy our self-crafted routines. We stick with the same coffee, take the same route to work, and enjoy the same television shows each season. However, our aversion to change can definitely be seen at work. Other than spending time at home, work is the place where we spend most of our waking hours.
For many of us, our duties stay in the same general subject area, our desk assignment stays constant, and we generally can expect the same number of projects or events in the year. This equilibrium is disrupted when there is a significant organizational shake-up. How can management help the average worker stay invested and engaged through this time? Figuring this out is a lot easier than it sounds.
Approximately 70 percent of organizational change efforts fail to achieve target impact. The top contributing factor is the employee’s resistance to change. Many times, a lack of trust, communication, and the memories of challenging changes lingered. While difficult, management can harness the power of useful HR technology to help ease the transitions of change management. By understanding the ways HR technology can aid your change management efforts, you can strengthen the trust and engagement of your employees to see results.
Communicating the Change and Keeping Employees in the Loop
A study of over 30,000 employees found that 45 percent of firms rarely or never openly share the challenges facing it. Most times, organizations are changing course because of a problem they are encountering. The change is intended to be a solution to the issue, but unfortunately, employees are typically left out of this conversation.
This situation is where an HR engagement and communication tools come into play. Do you have a company intranet that allows you to share company challenges, potential solutions, and brief updates? Are you using it to its fullest potential? Properly implemented, this tool can help break down those communication barriers and prime employees to understand why the new change is necessary for the long-run.
Asking for Their Input
Think about how you would feel if you came home from work and found that the furniture had been moved, the walls repainted, and now you own a pet you didn’t know about. had been changed without your knowledge? For starters, you might feel irritated, helpless, and a bit angry that you were not consulted in any way.
This feeling also applies to employees who are being faced with organizational changes they weren’t expecting. Ensure they feel acknowledged while also soliciting their buy-in by asking for their input. Once again, tech to the rescue. Digital surveys are excellent tools for quickly gaining much insight into what employees are thinking. Opinion gathering before the change can give you valuable insights on their concerns so you can shape the approach and delivery. Don’t forget to monitor employee sentiment throughout the change so you can identify early opportunities to manage your messages, and respond to them.
Seeing the Impact on Performance
Hearing from your employees about their thoughts and experiences on the change is crucial, and will give you qualitative data to work with. However, you also need some quantitative information to know if your change management project is working.
Whether you’re managing a change in leadership, introducing a new, company-wide software platform, merging departments, or making any other fundamental change, you need to know if it is having a positive or negative impact on performance and productivity.
An HR management system typically has a performance management function as well as ways to track attendance and other indicators of low engagement. Compare employee performance, attendance, and turnover before and after the change to get a sense of if it is benefitting your company or if you need to dig deeper to refine it.
Keeping an eye on key reports from your project management system can give good insights as well. When deadlines start slipping, or revisions and reworks seem to be outpacing normal trends, these metrics can signal employee confusion or resistance to change.
Providing Adequate Training and Development
Understand that while you may be perfectly clear on the Why behind a given changes, chances are good that your employees have not. They have no idea about the New System will impact their current jobs, or what they need to know to navigate the New Process. So help them by providing access to practical training and advice before it’s needed. Invest in e-learning to train the workforce on what’s coming and how to work with it. For example, you are unveiling a new customer relationship management system for every department to use. It will increase efficiency and decrease siloing of important customer data. Investing the time and effort to help them learn about the Why—how it will benefit the company, improve productivity, etc.—is as important a step along the path as the How-To sessions themselves.
Connect Change Management to Recruitment
If you are in the middle of a substantial organizational change, don’t overlook how these new changes will impact your recruiting efforts.
Your new hires should be aware of this and have an idea of the Why behind it as they come on board. Having a robust recruiting software program can help you build orientation to these changes into the hiring and onboarding process. Doing so will help clarify how these new developments may impact their first weeks with the company.
Change management is never easy. As humans, we are creatures of habit and are not comfortable with the world around us shifting to something we are not familiar with. Because business is, by its very nature, synonymous with change. As a manager, you have to not only introduce and implement change, but you have to guide your employees through it. Utilizing HR tools to share information, train, and track progress can help ensure your change management plan is successful, and that the entire company emerges from it better aligned and more productive.