How to inform employees about organizational change?

Organizational change

Today, everyone knows and has experienced the problems and difficulties caused by change. It must have occurred to you that you want to break a bad habit or, conversely, develop good practice in yourself and have experienced the difficulties and problems of doing so. Just as changing behavior or daily routines is complex and requires significant effort, so is organizational change, such as integrating, rebuilding, and regulating administrative processes.

Not surprisingly, most of our efforts for organizational change fail. In organizational change, you must not only change your habits and approaches, but you must also convince others to change. In a Willis Towers Watson survey, about 87 percent of employees said they had plans to train managers in organizational change management, but only a quarter thought they were helpful. This lack of organizational change management skills makes it challenging to implement corporate projects. Managers need to acquire the competence to lead their teams through periods of change.

One meaningful way to enable organizational change is to communicate it well and transparently with your employees. When you address the issue of change in the organization, you must first find answers to two questions:

  • First, do our employees have enough motivation to change?
  • Do our employees have the ability and readiness to change?

The answers to these questions are critical; To the extent that if you answer each of them without considering the other, you will not be successful in organizational change.

When you want to talk about change, you need to focus on increasing your motivation and your ability to accept it.

With these four tips, you will have a good strategy for talking about organizational change, and you can successfully share it with the people in your organization.

Four points of the dialogue strategy about organizational change

1. Share the vision of evolution with your employees.

One of the best things you can do to express change is to share your vision for change. At this point, you need to tell people how the organization will benefit from this change and, in fact, outline a vision for the future of this organizational change. People need to know that this change has benefits for both themselves and the organization as a whole. One way you can make this perspective clear to employees is to answer the following questions:

  • How will the organization act when change is made?
  • What issues will employees experience as a result of the required changes?
  • Will this change have tangible results? What are these results?
  • Will there be any achievement in the face of this organizational change? What are these achievements?
  • What are the rewards for this change (both for individuals and the organization as a whole)?

To discuss the issue of change with the people of the organization, most importantly, you must be able to answer these questions and clarify these issues for them.

According to the Harvard Business Review, employees should not only be aware of the upcoming changes, but they should also know why. If you clarify your motivations for transformation to team members, people will come to a mutual understanding and cause everyone to work together to achieve the same vision.

2. Tell the story of organizational change.

The vision you draw for people in the first place is part of a more general story. If you tell this story to others, people will understand what the organization should look like in the future, what it is like now, and what it needs to do to change that vision.

Take Scandinavian Airlines, for example (cited by Professor Christopher Bartlett at Harvard Business School). In the early 1980s, the company had to make some changes. The airline was in trouble at the time, losing about $20 million, and its market was stagnant.

With the organization’s transformation, not only did they reach their $25 million increase in one year, but they were able to go even further and increase their revenue to $ 80 million. Within a few years, the company was named the best business airline in Fortune. The employees of this company had adapted very well to the change and had a significant impact on the company’s performance. How do you think this company was able to do that?

At the time, the company’s 20,000 employees were given a booklet that contained information about the change, focusing more on a subset of customers (those going on business trips). This booklet was different from all the booklets they received from the company throughout the year. The booklet’s title was: “Let’s Work Together and Fight for Success!”

In this booklet, a company is described as an airplane with the help of cartoon photos and beautiful fonts. 

These pictures showed very well where the company is on this path now and where it wants to go in the future. Unfortunately, there were “storm clouds” and “bad weather” that prevented the company from moving and did not allow the plane (organization) to reach its destination. With the help of these images, they also showed the competition of other organizations and how employees can effectively improve this situation and work to make the organization regain its competitive advantage.

Your company strategy does not have to be full of cartoon pictures and large text, just like the Scandinavian Airlines booklet. Still, once you can tell the story of the change project to your people, it will have a significant impact on them and give them a clear vision of the company’s future.

3. Let the people in your organization be the protagonists

Did you mention in the strategy about your change what the company members should do and what changes they should make in this direction? Have you given them enough motivation to consider themselves the primary agents of change in implementing this strategy?

In his book Winning ‘Em Over, Jay Conger quotes Scandinavian Airlines’ message to its employees. The news is as follows:

“We have to fight in a stagnant market and compete with competitors who are more efficient than us. They may not be better than us, but they know just as much as we do what the best deals are. So we should not lose to them in this game and win these deals. But, we can; It is enough to be ready to fight and work for hand in hand; “Because in this battle, we are all on the same front and together.”

All Scandinavian Airlines employees received a booklet containing this note. By reading this text, everyone knew where the company wanted to go and its role in achieving this goal. They told a story that employees were part of and could be the protagonists. They could all stand together in a militant movement and play a vital role in this change project.

What do you need to do for your organization’s people to work actively with you in the change process? How can you make them feel that in changing their organization, they are the protagonists, not the victims?

4. Define a roadmap for organizational change for your employees

Prepare the people in your organization to be leaders in the organization’s transformation. When you can achieve a shared vision with your employees (an image that employees believe is suitable for the company); It is your job to discover what that is and bring it about.

As Professor Tesdal Neely points out in a Harvard Business School case study, this is well illustrated at Rakuten (Japan’s largest online retailer). Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of Rakuten, once decided to change the language of the organization. He wanted to get every 7,100 of his employees (who were in Tokyo) to speak English instead of their mother tongue and run the business in English. Moreover, he expected his staff to be fluent in English within two years. 

Rakuten employees did not feel optimistic about the change. Although they thought the change was good for the organization and likely to be beneficial to them, they were still not motivated enough to do so. They had lost hope and found it challenging. What would you do in this situation if you were Mikiti instead?

Change does not have to be beneficial for your employees at all stages, as some changes may seem tedious and difficult for employees. Sometimes it’s so hard for them that they feel like they’re climbing a steep slope or think they’ve never done anything so complicated. So what can you do to help keep them on track in such a situation?

Although Rakuten’s transformation project was clear to people at first, he had to have other conversations with them and explain the issue to them to draw up a roadmap for themselves. Rakuten has invested heavily in language learning programs, showing their employees that the company helps them wherever they need to go. They do not have to bother with the change themselves. The company’s CEO also took measures to promote it and did not issue only orders. These actions were a powerful tool for convincing employees.

Transformation is a continuous process.

Remember that change is not something you only do once, and that’s it! You need to talk to your employees about it many times during the change process and keep explaining it to them. Demonstrate the changing perspective many times, tell the story to them, introduce them as protagonists, and show them the roadmap when faced with problems. It will motivate your organization more, and people will be more willing to make changes with you.

Do not forget that change is possible. People can experience significant changes every day and use the gears of organizational change more and more. Therefore, the dialogue strategy about change plays a vital role in organizational change and has a lasting impact.

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