Change Management Tag

Communication is a word that we hear all the time, and even though we know what it is by definition and why it’s important, we don’t always grasp the real necessity of it in a business context and how it can be applied strategically to your business.

What is good communication?

Communication is more than just stringing words into a sentence that can be understood by others; it’s a process that involves careful consideration to get the desired response. If you want to have a positive impact on your colleagues and just about everyone in your life, you have to plan your communication approach. Here is an example of how to tackle an issue in the workplace:

1. Be clear about what you’re saying – Identify the problem and speak in a calm, compassionate manner.
2. Be direct and to the point because this way you get to focus on what’s important without getting derailed.
3. Suggest a solution that you think would address the issue.
4. Listen carefully and respectfully to what the other person(s) have to say.

Once an issue is raised thoughtfully, negotiations will commence until both sides find a resolution that works.

Why an internal communications strategy matters?

So, what does it mean to be genuinely strategic? A good strategy involves planning an actionable response to any potential problems that can arise at any given time and frequently reviewing your plan to find out what is working and what isn’t. After all, it makes good business sense to implement a carefully crafted plan which highlights company goals and objectives to reach these goals.

You’d be surprised just how many businesses don’t have an actionable plan and leave their internal communications to chance. But the problem with this is that it can have a detrimental effect on a business. For instance, it can lead to low employee engagement which can lower morale and efficiency in the workplace. And who represents the company? Your employees. And everything about the way they manage these interactions gives an overall impression of the company in question.

Achieving enterprise objectives through communications

Michelle Roberts, a CEO with more than twenty years of experience in crisis management and strategic planning emphasizes the importance of identifying strategic goals and the tactics to attain them. She notes that “Strategic communication is much more than just words; it’s about aligning actions, words, and images to reinforce the business’s strategic goals. It’s what builds a company’s reputation.”

Roberts also recognizes the importance of thinking collectively when it comes to tackling the different types of communications within a firm. She mentions that if social media, marketing, advertising, public relations, and the company website are managed individually, it can give a disjointed impression to customers. Thus, damaging the company’s reputation.

These days the communication process is multi-directional, so listening is just as critical as communicating. If your company is getting poor online feedback, it’s essential to take on board what the customers are saying and look at how you can improve.

Lastly, consulting with your staff on a regular basis is necessary to ensure that your internal communications strategy is working. If some aspects of it need tweaking, you can do that before little problems turn into big problems.

To compete in the world of dynamic and disrupted digital markets your organization needs to develop the right technology and IT strategy for success. Here are 5 steps to building a better IT strategy for your organization:

1. Traditional or agile?

You’ve heard time and time again the difference between agile and traditional approaches, but do you know which method your organization needs?

Traditional IT Strategy

The traditional approach to developing a new technology strategy involves a structured and sequential process that produces a long-term view of the organization’s technology requirements together with a plan for meeting these needs. Technology strategies developed using the classic approach have a 3- to 5-year time horizon in line with your organization’s vision and business strategy. But focusing purely on long-term goals and plans could actually limit the organization’s ability to respond to the inevitable changes in its markets that will happen over much shorter timescales. Long-term technology plans run the risk of diverging from the actual business needs, which inevitably change and evolve over time.

It’s important to acknowledge, though, the traditional approach to technology strategy has many strengths, and it can serve your organization very well if used in the right circumstances.

Agile IT strategy

The agile approach to technology strategy is based on many of the same activities as the traditional approach but with some key differences that take into account the need for speed and flexibility. The agile technology strategy requires a collaborative and interactive approach with IT personnel working side-by-side with staff from other areas of the business during every step of the process. Additionally, architecture plays a key role in this approach – it’s assumed that the organization’s current architecture is already documented and maintained as changes are made and that architectural principles and standards are established and are used to guide decisions made about technology initiatives.

2. Create your IT mission

IT missions are a great way to highlight cultural points that are of particular importance to the IT department. When formulating an IT mission, remember:

  • It should align with your defined corporate mission.
  • Create a set of simple guiding principles that will drive daily decision making. A great IT mission ought to be used in the recruiting process to gauge cultural fit; it should be used as part of the evaluation of staff; it should even be used to gauge fit of strategic vendor partners.
  • It should be created with at least a five-year time horizon in mind.

 

3. Work with your enterprise

No industry or organization exists that isn’t impacted by technology. Moreover, there is no division of the company that doesn’t need technology to implement its strategies. So, it’s essential that IT engages the rest of the leaders of the company early enough that the plans can still be shaped.

The best way to engage leaders outside of IT is to talk to them about the future. Remember, the conversations don’t have to be explicitly about technology – technology is the “how” or the means of getting to the ends. It’s more important to address the “what” first. If possible, IT should push department leaders to leverage a common framework so that strategic plans line up at the same level of clarity and granularity. By using a common framework, each department plan can be compared, and your organization’s IT team will be able to identify where common themes exist and suggest single solutions.

4. Develop IT’s own strategy

With IT’s mission firmly in mind, and with the insights garnered from having helped shape the strategies of the other divisions of the company and at the enterprise level, IT must develop its own plan. In addition to the inputs from the rest of the company, IT should conduct research into rising general IT trends such as:

  • More sophisticated and persistent cyber threats
  • The innovation of technology at a staggering pace
  • Clients expecting even more from IT
  • The war for technical talent
  • Industry volatility

 

Once the strategy is created, it is essential that the dots be connected with the initiatives and processes that IT will develop and deploy respectively.

5. Don’t discount the power of change management

“Change is good” is a common statement, especially in the digital transformation era, but you would be surprised by the number of well-formulated IT strategies that don’t end up generating the value anticipated because the plans are not communicated well, leading to only a few people driving the strategy forward effectively.

Change management is critical to the success of business technology programs geared towards realizing the mission and vision of an organization. To encourage positive and sustainable change across your organization’s departments, learn the 6 change management strategies that’ll help you avoid burnout and improve digital transformation adoption.

In the workplace, change means progress, new technology, business growth, and increased productivity. But if poorly managed, change can only lead to one thing…employee burnout. What can you do to prevent change burnout and ensure sustainable results? Given the rush to digital transformation across all industries these days, the answer may surprise you – slow down.

In the fitness industry, there’s a widely known training method called Time Under Tension (or TUT for short). It is commonly used in strengthening, conditioning and bodybuilding – all of which involve changing one’s physiology. TUT refers to how long a muscle is under strain during a set. While you may see people at the gym powering through their training with heavy weights and be tempted to replicate their method, the idea of TUT is to think in slow motion – intentionally slow your workouts down to activate your muscles, focus on form, and prevent injuries. By taking the slow and steady path, and evolving your strategy once you pass specific benchmarks, you increase your odds of sustaining your new lifestyle and achieving your goals.

Similarly, a paced and steady path is crucial for effective change management. Technology has transformed every industry, and there’s an increasing pressure to keep up or be left behind. This triggers a knee-jerk reaction to seek change and implement it as quickly as possible. But just like people in the gym who are seeking fast results through heavy lifting, if you push for change too rapidly and without a phased plan of action, you’re likely going to hurt your progress and productivity. So what can you do to ensure smooth and successful transitions within your organization and avoid burnout? Here are 6 tips to follow:

1. Be transparent

When you realize change is necessary, be open with your employees about what needs to change. You’re likely making these changes to benefit those involved, so why keep your team in the dark? Before starting any implementation, hold a meeting to explain what the changes will look like, how and when they will take place, and the anticipated benefits. With open communication, employees are more likely to feel like valued members of the organization.

2. Listen

Digital leaders need a pulse on their organization’s baseline culture in order to recognize shifts in morale and other signs of change saturation. You hired your employees because they are smart, capable, and bring unique skills and perspectives to the table. So create opportunities for them to share their experiences and listen. At least as important as holding a meeting before implementing change is having regular follow-up sessions to keep your employees aware of progress as it unfolds and listen for potential signs of burnout. This time also provides space for employees to share their frustrations and concerns, find solutions, and feel “heard.”

3. Understand the impact change has on your workforce

Any significant change in the workplace can mean more stress for your employees – this can lead to poor performance and employee burnout. In fact, stress over organizational changes has been found to lower the average employee’s performance and engagement. Having a manager who understands the burden that change places on their employees and who encourages them to cope with that stress in healthy ways helps prevent burnout while promoting loyalty and a sense of comradery during transitional periods.

4. Reward champions of change

Adapting to change isn’t easy. But it’s made a little bit easier by encouragers and leaders within the team who step up to the plate when the process gets tough. Have you noticed certain employees going above and beyond to help others adjust to a new transition, share their knowledge, and support their teammates? Publicly reward those employees in unique ways (it doesn’t necessarily have to be in monetary form!) The reward matters less than the genuine expression of gratitude to your employees.

5. Delegate tasks

Significant workplace change may call for new roles to increase the odds of a smooth transition. To avoid overwhelming one or two employees, evenly distribute tasks associated with the change across your team, and publicly announce these change-related roles. This will give employees a personal investment in making the change a success and create a shared sense of having some skin in the game.

6. Publically post metrics and goals

Change in the workplace is hard enough. Don’t waste your team’s precious time tracking down information, instructions, and resources necessary to successfully adjust. Keep your goals and metrics accessible. Technologies and services are available to help your organization’s leaders post directions, processes, and helpful resources facilitate smooth transitions.

LeapPoint is growing! We’re especially excited to welcome and introduce two of our newest team members – Jessalyn Klein, Ph.D., and Naseer Rashid.  Read on and get to know them and how they’re contributing to LeapPoint and our clients.

Meet Jessalyn Klein, Ph.D.

 

Jessalyn Klein is a licensed psychologist who works with individual employees, teams, and business leaders to enhance performance by aligning people with goals for change. Convinced that people are growth-oriented, Jessalyn drives them toward their potential with a compassionate yet challenging consultation that enables them to embrace more effective ways of being and working. Her collaborative approach leverages the LeapPoint team to help clients identify and adopt advancements in process and technology.

In addition to eight years as a psychotherapist, Jessalyn spearheaded the strategic planning, implementation, and evaluation phases of a comprehensive mental health program for a large university. Jessalyn has supported LeapPoint learning and development for two years and now leads the company’s growing change management practice, drawing from her experience driving change at individual, group and organizational levels. Jessalyn holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from University at Buffalo.

 

Meet Naseer Rashid

 

Naseer Rashid is a Marketing Transformation Technology Manager at LeapPoint who drives enterprise transformation by partnering with executives and lending them his in-depth knowledge to effectively target and connect with their key audiences through the right content and tools.

Throughout his career, he has held various roles in the marketing technology space – from HR Communications to back-end development. Additionally, he has worked in a number of industries including biotechnology, financial services, government, and software, helping Naseer build an extensive understanding of customer needs and develop an actionable path to success. Naseer holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Systems Engineering and Operations Research from George Mason University.

While many companies are moving toward DevOps processes and tools that fit that framework, few are actually implementing the workflow with the fidelity needed to make teams more productive, according to a Thursday report from 2nd Watch.

Implementing DevOps means fundamentally changing your software engineering process. As with any change of process, success depends on how well the people making the change embrace the principles of the new approach. If people reject, subvert, or undermine the DevOps philosophy, it will fail. Here are six of the most common reasons for DevOps failure, along with tips to increase your chance of success.

1. Creating a traditional “DevOps Department”

78% of the 1,000 IT professionals surveyed said that their organizations continue to have separate teams for managing infrastructure/operations and development—meaning that DevOps is still not fully underway. DevOps involves a collaboration between development, operations, and quality assurance teams. Creating a traditional DevOps department misses the point of making a transition to a DevOps mindset, and is likely to simply add more red tape to existing processes.

This is the opposite of what DevOps should accomplish. Yes, a DevOps implementation requires leadership, but that’s not the same thing as traditional, department-based management. Your DevOps strategy should be implemented as a framework in which your development and operations staff can begin to interoperate, not as a new department that’s tasked with overseeing these disparate groups and somehow forcing them to work together. Focus on getting teams to improve their communication with people working in other departments. In this way, it is possible to assign tasks to the right teams so that every task is completed at the correct point in the overall project workflow.

2. Failing to properly consider staff workloads and other resources

If your developers are already overworked, this might not be the best time to start a dramatic overhaul of their working processes. Before you spring a DevOps implementation on your team, take the time to quantify their workloads and measure performance metrics, so you can see whether individuals are coping with the demands your organization places on them. If you come across an unmanageable boost in workload, you can either re-prioritize the workload or hire new resources to address the staff shortage before you can start your DevOps implementation.

3. Setting unrealistic goals

Never underestimate how big a culture shock DevOps can be in an organization that currently uses a silo structure. You cannot expect everyone to immediately adapt to the change and deliver excellent performance from day one. Be realistic about how long a DevOps implementation is likely to take and set short-term and long-term goals accordingly. And remember: The larger your enterprise is, the longer this transformation is going to take.

4. Creating “hybrid” DevOps while keeping old structures

Some organizations try to reduce the culture shock of DevOps implementation by keeping the business’s old structures intact. However, giving into pushback from developers in this way can undermine the implementation. Rather than keeping the old culture intact, one solution is to build a true hybrid structure that keeps IT operations and development teams in their traditional silos but implements an agile methodology.

5. Misunderstanding the role of business owners

The role of a business owner is to make top-level strategic decisions about the way in which the business is run. It is not to micromanage everything that goes on in the company. While a business owner can decide that the company would benefit from implementing DevOps, they cannot always control how individuals and teams put the principles of DevOps into practice. Rather than trying to impose a new way of doing things, business owners should be willing to listen to the concerns of developers and IT operations employees and find solutions that help them to work more effectively within a DevOps framework.

6. Not embracing a culture where failure is tolerated

Transitioning to DevOps is, first, a cultural shift, and then a process and organizational shift. If you’re considering DevOps simply because “it’s the future”, rather than out of a desire to fundamentally rebuild and improve your business processes, success is highly unlikely.

A key part of the DevOps methodology is failure. Developers should not be afraid to admit to mistakes, particularly when talking about failures could be a vital learning experience for the whole team. When implementing DevOps, be sure to nurture a culture where failure is tolerated.

This year at Leap London, our very own Deven Ravel, former Marine Captain, gave a brilliant presentation on the lessons he’s taken away from his time in the Marines and how he’s applied them to real-world, corporate challenges. Deven told the story of his tour in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province where two members of his squad suffered life-changing injuries in a Taliban ambush and how those events proved to be the best change agents he’d ever encountered—forcing the Marines to adapt to their changed circumstances and breaking new ground in their lives.

He set out 10 key lessons from his experience:

1. Know yourself

It’s not just what you do. You have to think of yourself as the whole organization. Look at the people and the tools you have. What are the expectations of those people? And what about the people you are going to need but haven’t hired yet? Are you thinking two steps ahead?

2. Know your mission

Solutions need to be aligned up and down and organization. This means ensuring that strategic goals (business objectives) are aligned with operational goals (processes and procedures) and tactical goals (delivery).

3. Study history

Know the culture of your organization and understand where it came from. Understanding the history of an organization—knowing where its core values come from—can help tailor change programs to the character of the business.

4. Set expectations

Clear expectations prevent wriggle-room for mistakes. It means you can ask, ‘Do you not understand what was expected?’ or ‘Did I explain it wrong?’

5. Be brilliant in the basics

What are the core standards you expect everyone to have? What are the basic skills that are needed? It’s not about job performance; this is about bare minimum expectations. For his squad of Marines, that meant basic first aid, understanding communication signals, and weapons training.

6. Standardize communications

Define what different communication channels are used for. Make it clear when a team should use instant messenger tools like Slack, email, or Workfront to share information.

7. Build trust

This is hard to measure—it comes from the gut. The key step is to identify change agents within an organization who can help promote change. Those change agents have common attributes among their peers:

  • Influential
  • Respected
  • Impartial
  • Positive
  • Empathetic
  • Proactive

8. Decentralize and empower

If you have established clear expectations, clear communication and aligned objectives, smaller teams will be empowered to act and innovate.

9. Execute with a plan

We ask, ‘What works for the tools you have and the type of work you do?’ If the plan doesn’t fit the tools, the people, or the type of organization, it’s going to be tough to execute.

10. Reflect openly and often

You can only reflect openly and often once you’ve built a culture of trust in your organization. As managers, we need to ask, ‘How can I help you do this better?’