3 Ways to Help Your Organization Accept (and Cope) With Change

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May 3, 2012

Communication missteps and a failure to motivate employees to adapt is causing most corporate change initiatives to fall short and, in addition to hurting the bottom line, is ultimately harming employee engagement.

With the rapid pace of change required to succeed in today’s uber-competitive global business environment, the organizations that thrive are the ones that can successfully trigger swift strategic and operational transformations that employees understand and embrace.

Many organizations, however, are failing at this critical business element not because the objectives and tactics haven’t been thought out.

Rather, change management initiatives typically fail because the business managers responsible for enacting the change are not providing the affected employees enough personal motivation.

3 activities to foster change

HR leaders have an opportunity to change this trend and leverage their workforce recognition solutions to help shorten the acceptance curve. A change initiative’s success or failure is defined by how quickly the change becomes part of the organization’s accepted methodology and is adopted by employees.

So, the key to ensuring change initiative success is quickly motivating affected employees to accept and utilize the new method/s. HR leaders can leverage their employee recognition and reward systems to help enact these changes through three primary activities:

  1. Communicating the change to inspire buy-in;
  2. Connecting individual and management goals; and,
  3. Adding actionable measurement.

Communicating the personal context of change

While the volume of communications deployed during change initiatives is high, the focus is typically on explaining the enterprise rational for making the change – be it improved operational efficiency or increasing financial returns. Often, the communication plan does not put the change into personal context or give employees a reason to care.

Individual or team-based goals and objectives that illustrate success from the employee’s point of view helps employees make the personal connection and can be accomplished with customized communication plans. This is an opportunity for HR to develop targeted plans that tailor the personal change objectives to the select role, length of service or location, etc. HR can utilize the recognition system to deliver these messages efficiently to the specific employee groups.

Clearly connect individual and manager goals

Even though executives often have a high-profile role in describing the business changes, most are not addressing employee concerns. How will this affect me? How will my participation be measured? What’s in it for me?

Answering these questions and translating corporate objectives into desired employee actions are critical. This is another area perfect for HR involvement. HR should work with the front-line manager teams to convert high-level change related objectives into specific behaviors that employees must understand and act upon.

Using the employee recognition solution, managers can set goals and reward outcomes connected to the change and even use their reward budgets to promote quicker uptake and acknowledge early adopters. Socializing the change at the grassroots level helps organizations limit early resistance and reinforce the positive opportunities the change represents.

Adding actionable measurement goals

All change initiatives have important high-level measures to gauge success, however, tracking aggregate financial gains, operational efficiencies and customer satisfaction improvements are lagging indicators. They do little to chart the path toward sustained change and provide no diagnostic insight on how to expedite acceptance and counter resistance.

By incorporating the workforce recognition solution to help in the change management communications and motivations, HR can pinpoint where and when change is embraced or rejected at an individual level. This detailed analysis allows HR to then target potential problem areas with new communications campaigns or goals/rewards programs and further limit implementation resistance.

A company’s ability to change — and to do so efficiently — can be a significant source of competitive advantage. HR has an opportunity to help organizations speed the time to employee acceptance and use the company’s recognition program to help employees adjust and adapt.

HR can help change leaders create communications that inform and inspire, introduce recognition tools that help establish and maintain a clear connection between the organization’s goals and an individual’s actions and better identify employees who need additional training or motivation to transition completely. Yes, organizations do indeed have a lot riding on their ability to change the way they do things. But, with the help of employee recognition platforms, HR leaders have an opportunity to contribute to the change management process in new ways.