Communication with employees is the most important element of change management but it is often done very badly. When change management fails it is often because management have communicated at employees, not communicated with employees. The key to successful change management is to engage employees in a conversation about why change is needed and how it is going to work.
What is change management anyway?
Modern businesses need to be agile in order to be successful. They need to be able to quickly adopt new technologies, take advantage of new markets and switch direction to keep ahead of the competition. To successfully re-organise how a business functions a lot of work will be needed. Staff will need to be retrained, new procedures will need to be introduced, new machinery or software might be needed. This all takes time and money, but for it to be successful buy-in is also needed from the people involved. If the staff in question think the changes are a waste of time and management don’t know what they are talking about, then the changes are likely to fail regardless of the amount of training provided.
Models of change management
There are many different models of change management. These include Kotter’s 8-step model, the Switch Framework, ADKAR, and Bridge’s Transition Model among others. Some of these models of change management are based on studies of bereavement while others are based on studies of how businesses work. Their attitude to communicating with employees is as diverse as their backgrounds. Some of the models barely mention communicating with employees, other put in in as core steps of the process.
The model of change management that we use at MCS and Partners is based on our background in NLP, Gestalt coaching and Print Profiling. We look at what motivates employees to behave in the way that they do and how to motivate them to behave in positive ways. Our model of change management is not about dictating change from on high, or coercing staff to change behaviour, it is about motivating staff to want changes and getting them engaged in making it work.
When should you communicate change management to employees?
Many models of change management put communication to employees in the middle of the process. To really be effective employee communication needs to be the beginning, middle and end of a change management program. When changes are first being discussed employees, or employee representatives, should be included to give their thoughts on what currently works and what can be improved.
As well as being a potential source of new information for management this gives an opportunity to win over key employees at an early stage. If a handful of employees can be turned into advocates for change at the beginning it is likely to make the whole process more successful. There should then be ongoing conversations with these employees throughout the changes, seeing what is working and what is not, and incorporating their ideas when possible. By communicating with employees and actively taking their feedback on board they will be more engaged with the process and more motivated to make it work.
Talking does not always equal communication
When we are talking with employees about change management it is important that real communication is taking place. At MCS and Partners we call our approach ‘therapy for organisations’. Many of the techniques we use, such as NLP and Print Profiling, are about going beyond what people say to what they really think. We are trained in approaches that allow us to draw out what people are really thinking as we communicate with them.
When faced with their boss asking whether they agree with his ideas many employees will simply say yes. If they are just saying yes, then it is unlikely they will really be engaged in making that change work. Part of our job as change management consultants is to uncover what those employees really think and to make sure they are really engaged.
To find out more about our approach to change management, and how we can help your business please give us a call on 01469 531580 or email firstname.lastname@example.org