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Vol 02 | Issue 03 | August 2020

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No matter which framework companies choose to execute, the key factor to its success is who is in charge of the change management. A simple guide.
Keith Kitani

Companies in all industries are going through a tremendous amount of both business and strategic change. These changes are driven by factors such as digital transformation, digital-centric competition, M&A, the gig economy, and a more diverse and dispersed workforce than ever. 71% of communication leaders say that the pace of change has accelerated in the past three years. This pace has caused more than 80% of employees who are undergoing an organizational change in their workplace to experience cultural tensions and competing priorities. Without the proper approach and implementation of these change initiatives, companies are at risk of losing more than just money, but their talent, too.

The critical factor to a company's change management success revolves around people: leadership in charge of the changes, and the employees who must embrace it. That's why an organization's HR leadership is a critical piece to the puzzle.

For example, many companies undergoing significant digital transformation are implementing new systems, such as a new HRIS. While considerable time and resources are spent on the systems and processes that come with a new HRIS, the need for behavioural change to drive adoption is a significant problem-communicating the "why, when and how" to employees.

To achieve change management success, you need to have the right communication plan in place to drive change effectively. Poor communication can derail the most well-planned, well-intentioned change programs. HR teams play a huge role in paving the way for lasting success by ensuring employees embrace change. Here are a few things to remember when implementing a communication strategy.

Articulate the "why."

Change initiatives generally align with business objectives, so make sure those goals are clear to employees. Be transparent about the reasons behind change management plans and activities so employees better understand the company's direction and why business changes are happening in the first place. Reinforce the messaging with your frontline managers, who are closest to their employees, and who will show that all levels of management are united behind the change.

Take an employee-centric view

Consider how your employees will be affected. How are employees benefiting from it? Framing and communicating the difference in a more personal way will give employees a sense of empowerment, and they're more likely to be invested in change initiatives when they know how it will affect them personally. Remember that one size does not fit all, so to inspire change, communications should be customized to each employee.

The difference is journey, not the one-and-done

Every employee has unique qualities and needs. They might be at varying stages in their career, work in separate offices, or operate differently based on their department and job functions. During ongoing change, it's essential for your organization to meet employees where they are in their journeys, using the right communication channels (emails, text messages, portals, posters, town halls), tailored messaging and the right media (video, podcasts, infographics, documents) to reach them.

Measure, adjust and reinforce

After deploying your change management program and supporting materials, find out what employees are thinking and feeling about the change through surveys, feedback, and engagement tools. Learn if they're engaging with the information by using analytics and other quantitative measures. Measuring qualitatively for sentiment with your audience is equally as important as measuring quantitatively for a program's effectiveness. If employees are consuming the content but not understanding it, adjust your strategy, channels, and messaging based on this feedback - and continue to do so as needed throughout the process.

Change is the new norm, and the companies that will come out on top must be agile and able to shift and adapt quickly. A change-ready organization is one with aligned leadership and an effective change communications strategy. Be sure your company has a well-designed communications strategy to support the most critical change agents - your people.

Keith Kitani is the Chief Executive Officer, GuideSpark

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