Here’s something you already know but is still worth repeating: change is hard.
Being forced to change is even harder, especially at work where you are taken out of your comfort zone and have to learn new ways of doing things that you used to be able to do automatically.
It’s annoying, right?
Here’s another thing you already know but is also worth repeating: change is inevitable.
Whether it’s technology, organisational structures, people or process, change is now a constant reality for all businesses.
Technology trends in particular are influencing businesses to do things differently and undergo radical digital transformations. You might even be gearing up to take your own team in a new direction to stay relevant and competitive.
Why it’s important to invest in change communications
When people resist change, at best they’ll just make it last longer and waste lots of money in the process – but their resistance may have a more serious outcome. They could derail the transformation and, ultimately, lead to the demise of the business.
The fact is, if you can find a way to get everyone – or let’s be real, as many people as possible – to embrace and contribute to the change, you’ll all get through it more quickly and your transformation is more likely to lead to more success for the business. A positive attitude to change may even allow for opportunities to enjoy the journey along the way.
How to make change great again
The question is, how can we make the inevitable a bit more comfortable?
I think the biggest mistake we still see being made over and over again in any kind of change project is to not explain properly – or in some cases, to not explain at all – what’s happening, when it’s going to happen, what it means for everyone and what we need from them along the way. The second biggest mistake is not listening to how your people feel about it all.
It sounds so simple but it’s not because working out what you need everyone to do differently and when takes some real effort from those leading the change. Plus, true change communications require listening to your team as well as broadcasting messages at them, and this is both logistically challenging and incredibly time-consuming. It can seem like a waste of time, or a way to massively slow your progress, but it’s not.
Investing some time at the beginning to get this right will allow you to move much faster later on in the process.
Empower your team to make decisions on your behalf
Remember, in the story of Alice in Wonderland, when Alice gets to the fork in the road and doesn’t know which direction to go in? She asks the Cheshire cat, who happens to be hanging around, for advice on how to choose a path.
“That depends,” says the cat (or words to this effect). “Where do you want to end up?”
“I don’t know,” says Alice, and the cat replies: “Then it doesn’t matter.”
Alice obviously represents your team; Wonderland is your company. I’m not sure about the cat, but you get the general drift. Work with me.
The point is, every single day, your team will need to make decisions on behalf of your business as they reach metaphorical forks in the road.
If you’ve invested your time and money in good, meaningful internal communications, they should know what your shared goals are. They should know where they – and you – want to end up. Knowing where you want to go is an important part of making everyday decisions. You really should invest in making sure you tell them.
Communication is the key to success
At Spoon, we believe that internal communication and employee engagement is the key to success during times of change. There are lots and lots of tools and techniques you can use, and you should probably use a combination of them all.
Perhaps most importantly of all, you need to make sure your team have regular opportunities to let you know how they are feeling about things – even if it’s hard to hear. You should also ask for their ideas, as they’ll have a lot to contribute.
But whatever tactics you choose, it all starts with planning and a strong communications strategy will ensure that change is communicated to the right people, in the right way, at the right time.