Change is hard to achieve when your staff perceive a disconnection from the management team and ‘head office’.
When approaching your change workstream, think about turning your organisational hierachy upside down.
Work hard to remove a 'them and us'perception whether real or imagined.
Employees need to feel their ideas and energy are making a difference, and each team is driving results.
We regularly use DILOs (Day In The Life Of) to accompany field individuals during their daily work, in order to understand their pain points. It can be tempting just to allow positive team members to take part in these activities, but if you fail to listen to your biggest critics in the field you are simply deluding yourself!
Such engagement needs to be followed up regularly with activities such as presentations, formal and informal communications to field teams (ideally at their own site).
Establishing forums for them to ask questions, understand the project and help to shape itIndividuals (Change Champions) who can represent their needs back to the project and act as a point of communication and trust at a local levelInvolving field teams throughout the process - whether solution selection, workshop design, process development, user acceptance testing, training design and of course during training and roll-out activities
By turning the pyramid upside down, your change activity can harness the people that know your business better than anyone.
Here's an example:
Your operational teams, frontline staff and managers are absolutely fundamental to the success of your change initiative. Think hard to articulate 'what is in it for me' and evidence your vision and execution in clear, practical ways that will be meaningful to your audience. Make sure you communicate with them regularly and you give them a dialogue to express their thoughts, concerns, feelings and ideas in a way that has a positive contribution on your solution.
Your senior management and middle management need almost as much engagement to help them understand the benefits to their business unit, department, operational area or team. They will be important advocates to get the rest of their staff on board.
Your Chief Executive and Board will need to be aware of and bought in to the overall change strategy and vision and depending on the scale of the change may be acting as sponsors or senior responsible owners. Communicate the right information to this type of audience, leaning on the financial and organisational benefits.
Your wider set of employees are at the bottom end of the pyramid as the scope and scale of change engagement may need to be more limited due to its often sensitive nature (particularly amongst supply chain and partners). Focus here on getting the right messages across as part of your change strategy.