When was the last time that you had to communicate a major change to your organization?

If you work in a manufacturing company, you may have changed a procedure in your supply chain or a key process for ensuring safety on the floor.

If you work in a restaurant, perhaps you overhauled your menu. You had to inform employees about 10+ new menu offerings, changes to popular items, and more.

Significant organizational changes are generally made with careful consideration. Change is an interruption, and the process of change management can be daunting. This is especially true for large organizations. Although it can be painful, change is a requirement for success. Big changes are implemented in order to increase profits, streamline productivity, and make the organization better.

After recognizing that a change needs to be made, company leadership works to understand the ROI of making the change. In most circumstances, the longer it takes to make the change, the longer it takes to generate the ROI. Speed of adoption for a new process/change is critical because it impacts your bottom line.

Ultimately, the speed of change adoption is tied directly to how well a change is managed.

Entire companies have been built (and are thriving) on the premise of helping companies with change management. While some change management is incredibly complex, and the execution of such change can take years, there are a few key principles that apply regardless of the type of change and industry.

Your employees must:

  1. Be aware of the need for change
  2. Make the decision to participate in the change

Dictating a change in your process without explaining the ‘why’ behind the change is often confusing and demoralizing for employees. Not sure where to start? Here are a few examples of announcing a change and helping your team understand the need for change:

We have had 2 accidents in the last month due to slips, trips, and falls in the warehouse. In order to prevent these accidents in the future and help keep you safe, we are now requiring that all employees who interact with the warehouse wear the same uniform shoes that we currently require for full-time warehouse employees.

Our developers have created a new system to help us better track orders as they are processed through our plant. We estimate that this will help us save 2 hours per day per line, and we will increase our order accuracy by 25% in 3 months.

Our survey results for the last six months have revealed that 75% of our customers want more chicken options on the menu. That’s why we are introducing our revised dinner menu with 5 new chicken entrees.

This approach works because it…

  • Educates your employees – they can pass along the information to your customers (if appropriate)
  • Generates buy-in and makes employees feel that they are part of the decision
  • Provides data to explain the rationale for a decision

Depending on their department and/or role, an employee may not have been aware of the need for change, so including this in your communication about the change is absolutely critical.

After understanding the change, employees must make the decision to participate in the change. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to force employees to participate in a change, although there could be eventual consequences for employees who fail to comply over time.

Employees who have unanswered questions are likely to resist change, and their rate of adoption will probably be slower than expected.

What’s the solution? Make 2-way communication a part of your change management process.

Here are a few ways to incorporate this into your change communication:

  • Announce the change at an in-person meeting, and plan for time to answer questions at the end of the meeting
  • Collect questions from employees and share a list of FAQs a week after the change is announced
  • Share details about the change on a platform/medium that enables employees to ask questions (e.g. Red e App, which allows employees to respond to messages in a controlled environment)

Having a strong change management process leads to faster adoption of change, which impacts your bottom line in the short and long term.

How do you ensure that your employees understand and respond to change? We’d love to hear your ideas. Find us on twitter @redeapp & let us know how you manage change more effectively.