When implementing changes, we have dealt with various situations with our clients. You can take a look at three of them. Sometimes, effective communication is all it takes. Other times, perseverance is necessary, as results may only come after some time. Occasionally, it’s challenging, and parting ways with someone is necessary to move things forward.
Situation I If you communicate well you win
Change brought certain disadvantages to a significant portion of employees, but also improvements. Due to the market situation and current competition, it was necessary. Moreover, as it also affected labor relations and required changes to employment contracts, obtaining the consent of the vast majority of employees was essential. The management perceived it as crucial to create a solid communication strategy.
During a series of workshops, our consultants and the client’s employees collaboratively developed:
- An analysis of individual employee groups, outlining what they stand to lose and gain from the change, predicting their potential reactions, and identifying possible objections.
- A presentation highlighting the key points of the change for each employee group.
- A schedule detailing the sequence of presentations to minimize the spread of “water cooler rumors” as much as possible.
Given the client’s large workforce (over 1000 employees), it was necessary to train several levels of management on how to present the change during meetings and in personal conversations.
One of the things the client appreciated was the support in formulating convincing arguments from the perspective of the employees (what it would bring them). During a workshop where we were formulating the arguments for his subordinates, one manager said:
“I had no idea how difficult it is for me to empathize with their situation. Almost all the arguments I had prepared myself were from the company’s or manager’s perspective. I had the impression that this workshop would be pointless, but understanding WIIFMs (What’s in it for me?) and being able to formulate them from the employees’ perspective was very helpful.”
Situation II: It will be tough at first, but results will come – PATIENCE IS KEY
At this client, the change was truly radical. It required a shift in management approach and a higher level of autonomy from employees, along with new procedures and skills for carrying out their work.
In addition to the approach outlined in Situation I (which was slightly adjusted for this client), there was another key element added: employees’ concerns that they wouldn’t be able to handle the new procedures and that the change would surely bring about a hockey stick effect (things will get worse before they get better because it’s new). The goal was not only well-structured communication but also minimizing this hockey stick effect.
We achieved the minimization of losses from the hockey stick effect through targeted training in the necessary new skills and their direct application in the work environment. The second crucial factor was to ensure that frontline managers were capable of providing immediate realistic as well as developmental feedback on the performance of employees. This was achieved through their training and shadowing.
Situation III: Change after farewell
Basically, it was not a new change. The organization deployed the same system for the third time, which they failed to maintain in practice twice. The skepticism of the new beginning was massive.
In addition to all the standard change procedures, we realized that the TOP management had to do something that would truly emphasize the importance of this “change.” A communication strategy was prepared, a system re-implementation project was initiated, and furthermore, the director started to be more actively present in the operation and introduced podium meetings. For the first meeting on the podium (balcony above the production hall), no one showed up. Over time, it began to work, but it also became evident that it wasn’t enough. There were several communication barriers and sources of skepticism in key managerial positions within the organization that proved difficult to overcome. Despite the improved communication with employees, it was discovered that some of them were partly responsible for the past failures of the system. Only after the company parted ways with them did employees begin to acknowledge that things would change.