Let’s face it: change really is the only constant in our world.
Has that age-old statement caused us to be numb to change? As leaders, do we think that because our employees accept change as part of the status quo, they don’t need any support when the organization is facing significant transition?
Of course not.
Turbulent times call for instilling trust and confidence and the only way to do that is to connect with people.
Over the years, I’ve heard many excuses from executives who are reluctant to communicate with staff during business transformations. Many of them say that they don’t know enough yet so communication is premature or that they think it’s better to not say anything now because they’d look like fools later when things change again.
Well, duh, things will change. It’s inevitable.
Another common excuse is that they’re just too busy making the change happen to figure out how to communicate and support their employees through the transition. Of course, with all the digital technology at our fingertips these days, the “no time” excuse is simply no excuse.
Through my experiences in supporting organizations through large transformational change, here are some great online ways to stay engaged with your employees when they need you most:
Keep Them In The Loop
First, use your company Intranet to set up a change support site dedicated to information about the upcoming change. Post a timeline of big milestones over the course of the next 4 to 6 months that relate to the change. Have key leaders driving the change write a weekly blog talking about the latest project updates in their own words and post the blogs on the website. You can also use email to send out links to helpful, relevant content around organizational change management.
Let Them Contribute To The Conversation
Set up an online “Comments and Questions Box” where employees can send their thoughts and concerns about the change. Many content management tools offer ways to set up these types of submissions and keep them anonymous if that’s important to your organization during the business transformation process. Establish a process for leadership to respond to the questions either in-person with the individual, if they did not elect to be anonymous, or through the company’s Intranet.
If you have the resources, set up an online bulletin board or chat board, where employees can submit comments and receive real-time replies from other employees. This type of digital engagement should be monitored to ensure that inappropriate commentary is removed or blocked. Also, guidelines should be developed for online chat use and rolled out across the organization before the site is active.
Get Their Feedback
Finally, use an online survey tool or develop a survey through your content management system for a quick 5- to 7-question pulse check to ask your employees how they’re feeling about the upcoming change, how well they feel they’ve been informed, how well their managers have kept them in the loop, and how they feel the change is going to impact them.
Please note that none of these electronic forms of engagement replace the power of face-to-face interaction, but can certainly be a strong complement to your change management tool kit.
With all that technology gives us today, these suggestions are the tip of the iceberg for what you could do when you decide to keep your employees informed through electronic means and to ensure that they are ready, willing, and able to accept and embrace change when the moment comes.