5 Ways to Engage Employees Through Change
If you want to engage employees through change, it starts at the top with leadership.
Set a Vision
By setting a vision, you eliminate confusion for both employees and stakeholders, each of whom you are effectively asking to change their behaviors or ideas.
If you paint a picture for them, however, regarding what will result from these changes, it will provide context for what lies ahead. These changes could relate to a new marketing strategy, product roll-out, or operational change.
Setting this vision is critically important, and it must be set by leadership before taking any other steps.
Build a Strategy
Once you identify what the future looks like, you need to build a plan for how to get there. You need a strategy.
A good strategy entails setting out clear expectations regarding not just goals and objectives (the deliverables), but key inputs. In other words, who will do what?
A strategy also entails understanding the outcomes, which are different than goals. Whereas goals cover a broad spectrum of activities, outcomes are specific and precise.
The last component of a strategy to help engage employees through change is to set a clear timeline. They will not respond well to proposed changes if the plan is not equally specific as to when everything is expected to take place.
Engage in Dialogue
If you are going to engage employees through change, your management team needs to communicate often with them.
This should not be a one-sided conversation, however. Effective change does not result from an imposition of will, but rather dialogue.
To spark an actual dialogue, consider the use of texting for internal communications. According to research, not only are more than 98 percent of texts opened within 3 minutes, 90 percent actually respond to texts, too.
If you can foster dialogue with your employees, you will help them more effectively manage change.
Reinforce the Vision
With any organizational change project, you should expect some resistance from employees, which is why it is important to reinforce the vision. Be a champion of change.
While pep talks represent one way to engage employees through change, that alone is inadequate. Reinforcing the vision, then, means removing barriers for success for employees as well as providing resources and training.
You also need to be aware of the signs that employees are struggling with change. When such signs present themselves, it is important to meet them with compassion and empathy.
Just remember, your employees are watching you, so how you adapt to change as a leader is just as important as how you engage employees through change.
Develop a Team
After you have implemented your change project, you will most likely identify others in your organization who can serve as agents of change.
By assembling a ‘committee’ of change agents, you arm yourself with reinforcements should you need them. For instance, if certain parts of the plan are not going well, you may need to regroup and recalibrate.
The key with any successful organizational change project is to stay the course and build a constituency from within to weather the proverbial storms that may arise.
If you are intentional, committed, and strategic in how you deploy your resources, you will be in a much better position to engage employees through change at your organization.