What is the best way to prepare for periods of organizational change?
As change practitioners know, change can be volatile and uncertain.
If you don’t prepare properly, you can run into unforeseen obstacles.
Employee resistance, for instance, can be greatly mitigated with proper planning and communication.
Technology barriers, likewise, can be avoided through foresight and collaboration with specialists.
Below, we’ll look at five important ways you can prepare your organization for periods of organizational change…
And, hopefully, prevent some of these obstacles from dampening your project’s outcomes.
1. Build Awareness
Building awareness will help prevent employee resistance to change.
It is the first step to any people-centered change management strategy.
By creating awareness of the need for change, you help individuals understand the “why” of change.
Knowing that is crucial to helping people rationalize the need for a project and get behind it.
In short, building awareness helps you:
- Generate support
- Reduce employee resistance
- Prevent feelings of shock, alienation, and besiegement
- Prepare for the early stages of a project, such as onboarding and training
Building awareness gives you a chance to gently ease people into a project.
Here is a simple formula for creating awareness:
- Explain the business problem in detail
- Cover how this problem negatively impacts the business and employees
- Describe how the organization thinks about the problem
- Explain the solution
The alternative – not explaining the “why” of a project – leaves people skeptical and untrusting.
2. Collect Feedback and Data
Feedback and data is another helpful way to prepare for periods of organizational change.
Collecting feedback helps you do a few things:
- Learn where employees stand regarding the change project
- Understand how open they are to change
- Know the technical capabilities of your organization and the employees
- Discover potential problems or resistance points
Feedback collection and tracking should be continuous throughout your project.
By beginning it early on, you can get your project started on the right foot.
This early data collection can, in turn, help you create a project that fits the current state of your organization.
After all, every organization has different:
- Change readiness and change maturity levels
- Cultures, attitudes, and behaviors
- Digital readiness and maturity levels
The data you gather will help you design a project that is suited for your business.
3. Communicate the Change Plan
Following on the heels of these two steps, it’s imperative to actually communicate the plan of action.
Change managers know how important a communication strategy is.
That is, don’t just tell people “why” you need change, show them a roadmap.
Communicating the action plan helps:
- Further reduce employee resistance
- Open up the floor to dialogue around the change project
- Build confidence in the plan
- Garner support
- Reduce feelings of insecurity and uncertainty
This step, like the first two, helps employees engage with the program as fully engaged participants.
There are many ways to start the conversation – meetings, webinars, video announcements, email announcements, internal blog articles.
The key to success is creating an open conversation. Communication should be a two-way street that encourages discussion, feedback, and dialogue.
Failure to communicate can increase feelings of isolation, which disengages workers and detracts from a project’s results.
4. Initiate Pre-Rollout Training
Employee training is an essential ingredient for any change management project.
After all, without knowledge and skills, people won’t be able to effect change.
Effective, modern training helps to:
- Actually execute the change program
- Increase employee productivity and engagement
- Improve efficiency of a change project
- Decrease frustration and disengagement
To name a few benefits.
Pre-rollout training will help people be prepared for the actual rollout. When the day arrives, rollout will occur much more smoothly.
If you wait until the first day, however, you’ll increase the risks of:
- Uncertainty, confusion, and frustration
- Slower execution and learning curves
- Poor project results – or failure
Your training program can be designed by following the aforementioned steps.
That is, build awareness, communicate, and listen.
Doing so will help you discover employee competency levels, their skills needs, then build content to that level.
5. Create Learning Mechanisms
Analytics and data are your friend.
Organizational learning mechanisms will help you be more adaptable, respond more quickly, and produce better results.
- Like feedback, analytics offer insight into your project. However, feedback is self-reported, so it isn’t as accurate. Analytics can complement feedback.
- Data can also be used to create metrics and KPIs. These can help you gauge performance and make improvements as you go.
- It can also help you learn from your program after completion. This can then inform future decision-making and change projects.
The best time to create these mechanisms, of course, is before the project begins.
Design them before your periods of organizational change, so that you can capture data during the change project itself.
As with the other steps mentioned here, if you wait until the project starts, you are acting too late.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.