Company X went through a re-org. It wasn’t designed to be personal; it was designed to be good for the business.
The change…needed to happen.
A few roles had become irrelevant due to market shifts. Operations were overly complex and overlooked. Two departments existed for good business purposes but were so siloed that work in one department was redundant and at times even counterproductive to work in the other department.
The change…was well-designed.
Irrelevant roles were being eradicated, and individuals who held those roles were being transitioned to newly created positions intended to address modern market demands. One of these roles was specifically designated to resolve operational inefficiencies that had been unmanaged for years.
More advanced technology was being implemented to increase visibility, efficiency, and organization-wide collaboration. Moreover, the technology would make possible the data-driven insights the organization needed to monitor the effectiveness of changes being made and to enable more timely decision-making moving forward.
The change…was well-managed from a project planning standpoint.
A series of agile project plans were created across various departments, and seasoned project managers were charged with delivering them. Milestones were mapped out and aligned with the re-org project objectives. The timeline was realistic, and the budget wasn’t an issue. They were on the lookout for legitimate risks, including business-as-usual demands that tend to distract from project completion if not intentionally managed.
The change…ended up a total flop.
It took two years longer than planned. There were enormous lost costs and an unmeasurable amount of missed business development opportunities. Organizational culture took a nosedive.
Although leadership took great care to re-organize with ample training and without layoffs, there was substantial turnover. Critical communications, engagement, and customized-training were overlooked so employees left out of fear they were going to be left behind. Those who stayed unexpectedly lost their colleagues and friends and, with that, they lost trust.
After so much turnover, most of the workforce was replaced with less seasoned hires, which is great when you need innovation and ambition but creates an imbalanced and skewed environment without diverse perspectives and experiences. To make matters worse, the “long-timers” wanted nothing to do with the newcomers and the technology they seemed to embrace; It became a workforce divided.
The project wasn’t designed to be personal, but it should have been.
People take things personally; It’s what we do. People are at the heart of any change initiative, and if their personal experiences aren’t taken to heart, then they won’t take to the change. So how do you design a change initiative around the personal matters?
Conduct a stakeholder analysis and empathy mapping.
Who will be impacted? How will it change what they think, feel, and do at the start, middle, and end of the change process?
Communicate with all stakeholders.
This goes way beyond leadership. Talk to everyone who will be impacted; Talk to them early and often. Tell them the vision – including ways it will be hard as much as it will benefit the business and their day-to-day. Get people involved at all levels of the organization. Invite them to take as much ownership of the change as you have. Make it not only the organization’s change but their change, too. Ask them to envision what the change will look like along the way, and empower them to spread the word.
Prepare them for change.
Map out the change and make sure everyone understands the plan. Give stakeholders the time, financial, and support resources they need to understand why and how they need to change the way they work. Give them ample opportunities to practice their changing behaviors.
Encourage them to share feedback.
Make the feedback process easy. Create opportunities for them to talk to leadership and each other about what’s working, what’s not working, and ways they can overcome barriers to change.
Perhaps most important – listen and respond – to their excitement, fear, frustration, and accomplishments. If they point out sources of resistance to the change (e.g., particular people, processes, time/ budget constraints, morale), make a mission out of understanding the resistance and finding ways through it. If they take even the smallest step toward envisioned change, celebrate and reinforce them to carry on.
Don’t try to convince anyone it’s not personal, or that it’s “just business.” Show them that you take personally the change and the impacts on them. Remember that them taking their jobs personally is the very thing that got them to work hard in the old way of doing things; help them find ways to work just as hard at changing.
LeapPoint takes change personally.
Whether it’s digital or organizational transformations, LeapPoint integrates change management into all customer roadmaps. By drawing from the psychology of human and organizational behavior, we ensure customers hone in on the personal impacts of projects that can help or hinder strategic objectives, depending on how they’re addressed. We’re committed to taking change initiatives personally so that we can all take care of the business.
Learn more about our People & Change services today: https://leappoint.com/people-and-change/