When you are embarking on a transformation or IT implementation project, building consensus is vital to your success. This consensus will be needed at all levels of your organisation. Your Board and other Executives will need to be aware of and largely supportive of your project (particularly if it's of a scope and scale where this will be needed).
Your Directors will start to be directly impacted by the transformation and their managers and teams will need to be aware of the change and what it means to them.
Line managers need to role model the change in an authentic way they support. Employees will often be making use of the new technologies, processes or ways of working that you will introduce so need to understand it in a way that they can feel empowered and supported.
Developing a change story
Senior leadership teams tend to align best on a well considered change story that acts as a clear 'elevator pitch' for the change and why users should support it. It articulates the impacts and clearly describes the benefits. This change story can be shared and communicated by senior leaders down the ranks of the organisation, ideally with the tools and communications in place to ensure the message is consistently reinforced.
Leaders should look to bring their managers and teams into the process. This could involve cascade sessions of structured communication updates from the transformation project. It might involve engagement with your team of change champions or super users who can brief and engage local teams. It could also involve action planning workshops aimed at creating team focused action plans that identify the local changes that need to be made (to add up to overall success). Your leaders need to gain a detailed understanding of priorities as well as anything they need (information, training, awareness) to allow them to effectively role-model them.
Feeling the problem
Your management need to be able to articulate the project transformation change story that will ultimately address the needs and motivations of your employees. But before they can canvass support these same users also need to feel the problem first-hand. They need to understand that there are challenges or performance issues to address. They need to be invested in helping that address the business problem and equipped with the tools to do so as a result of your transformation.
Developing a connection
Through describing and sharing a change story your users can create an intellectual and emotional connection with the change. The emotional element is important and shouldn't be overlooked. Change will be unsettling to many employees and they will have to experience that discomfort and take personal action (such as learning a new system, being trained or adopting new ways of working) that may threaten (or ideally enhance) their current experience. Through a change story that is properly crafted they can start to interpret, shape or reshape and make sense of the situation.
Don't forget that many of the changes that you may look to implement may appear to employees as complex, difficult, disruptive, or unnecessary given their previous or current experience. Just because you think it might help them it doesn't mean that these employees will feel it! A change story enables your audience to better understand what the change involves, why it might be desirable, and how and when it might be implemented. It gives something tangible to hold the project to account. Just make sure that you deliver on the promises!
If you'd like more reading then why not take a look at some of our other change management blogs.
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