Against this backdrop, it is unfortunate that a lot of people do not like change:
“I’ve got too much on already. I don’t have time for this.”
“As soon as I get to grips with something it changes and I have to start again.”
“This isn’t going to work for us.”
“I don’t understand why we have to do this.”
“No-one’s thinking about the impact on our team.”
For a project to be successful, both in terms of delivery and lasting impact on an organisation, these types of employee concerns need to be addressed. I see three key areas where this can be achieved:
A well-managed, distinct communication workstream, which takes into account the needs of both internal and external stakeholders, will significantly increase employee engagement. Timing and content of communication is important, and it should be undertaken at multiple levels throughout the organisation in order to provide context and address differing concerns that staff will have.
While too many cooks may well spoil the broth (and in many cases just not be practical), ensuring affected staff are sufficiently involved in a project will generate better feeling within the organisation as well as widening the pool of technical expertise, new ideas etc. Where ongoing project involvement is not practical, the opportunity to input and be heard through meetings, forums or even anonymous suggestion boxes may go some way to addressing employee concerns.
Many staff may feel that a project does not have anything to do with them, and only creates issues, without them seeing any benefit. It is key that staff are appropriately recognised for their contribution to and acceptance of change, even where they may not be directly involved. This can be achieved through appropriate setting of employee objectives, linked to remuneration / retention plans as appropriate.
In summary, the manner in which a change programme is run can go a long way in improving employee’s perceptions of change and addressing individual concerns. Outside individual projects, organisations should strive to create a culture where change is seen as positive and individual employees are supported. And over time, perhaps change will increasingly be seen as an opportunity, rather than a threat.