Posts Tagged ‘Employee Relations’

Communicating Change

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Communicating Change

Most change in business is economy driven – whether an opportunity, a problem, or a crisis.  If you’ve managed a change in the way works gets done, you know that change can translate to temporary losses in productivity, time, and even staff or customers.  Exactly what and how change is communicated has a big impact on how the change is adopted.  And you want success!

While change definitely gets the headline, the hard part of managing change is making an effective transition to the new reality and new expectations.  Your communication will either support the change and the transition or create more resistance and barriers to the change.

Before You Communicate Consider:

  1. What’s in it for the people you are communicating to and other stakeholders?
  2. What can you tell them about the future? The Big picture/Vision.
  3. What can’t you tell them, why you can’t and when you will be able to tell them? Not
    everything will be known at the onset. How will you keep them informed?
  4. What needs to be done and when does it need to happen? (Goals, Timeframe, Actions)

When you Communicate:

  • Ask open questions that invite a thoughtful, specific response.  What questions do you have? Any concerns about the timeframe? How do you think customers will respond? Where do you think this will create the most challenge? How would you like to handle this part of the process?
  • Listen and respond to both facts and any individual concerns/fears.
  • Each time you discuss the change balance the communication by linking it back to: its
    purpose, the big picture, the plan, and the parts everyone will play.
  • As the change proceeds, announce progress…those first few steps are the path to
    the future.

Tip

When things are changing, increase communication!  There may be resistance to losing an old way and identity, fear associated with a new beginning (will I succeed?), and the disorientation that’s a natural part of transition. People may agree with the change, but personal transition is needed.  Keep acknowledging facts, respond to questions, provide reassurance.  In today’s market, be a change leader!

Marketplace Turmoil

Friday, November 21st, 2008

We’re in the midst of far-reaching economic uncertainty and that brings forth concern and raises fear for many employees. If it’s not the daily discussions are about which jobs are considered “safe” and which jobs and industries will be impacted, your valued employees are looking at their RRSP statement or the TSX numbers, and that’s not comforting.

To be productive and focus on the work at hand, employees need a feeling of stability and direction. Meet regularly and keep employees involved as to your organization’s objectives and where you foresee changes to current objectives. To be impactful, employees must know where to focus their work efforts.  Shifting some duties and tasks may be necessary to ensure close alignment with any changing objectives. Once employees have this core information, they will understand the need for the changes, and they will have ideas that can support the organization; keep them involved and engaged.

To mitigate fear, communicate openly with staff. From an employee perspective “no news is bad news”. Withholding information may also hamper your ability to retain high performers who make their own conclusions and considering moving to an organization that looks more stable.

Should job losses be a consequence of the downturn, provide supportive outplacement services to bridge employees to new employment. This can take the form of individual and/or group sessions to support exiting employees with tools to plan and implement their job search.  It’s a win-win to provide exiting employees with support. Remaining staff will see their employer “doing the right thing”; and, you may look to rehiring exiting employees in the future once we’re through this downturn. 

Try This

Focus energy and efforts on these core elements:

  1. Employee Retention: Recognize solid performance; be transparent about your organization’s objectives and concerns; show flexibility in responding to employee requests; continue career development; listen to staff input.
  2. Productivity: take stock of employee performance and develop clear timelined goals; manage poor performance – this is not the time for less than ideal performance; tighten up what is not working. Employees, as partners, have a vested interest in maintaining a high level of productivity.
  3. Customer Satisfaction: Do all staff understand the heightened need to differentiate your services from your competitors? Revisit customer needs and refresh service delivery processes and competencies.

“Things are changing here”

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Growth, restructuring, reengineering all mean that ‘things are going to change around here’. You’ve invested resources, time and money to design the new business strategy.  The next step is developing a change plan for your workforce. Even positive change can leave people a bit shaken, uncertain. This includes your high performers, who will want to know how they fit in the future, what the changes are, and how they can get there. 

Here are some core elements for you to consider as you move forward. They will support maintaining a productive, motivated workforce during times of change and growth:

1. Share the new business plans with employees so they have a clear idea of where you’re going and what you’re hoping to achieve. Break it down to short and longer term objectives. Show alignment to your mission and vision.

2. Cascading from your business growth plan, map out what will look different as you move into the future in areas of people skills and behaviors; the workplace overall, and internal processes, etc. Employees get excited about moving forward when they see how they fit in the future and how they will be supported to get there. Also ensure employees have access to be considered for any newly created opportunities – developing and promoting internal staff reaps rewards.

3. Involve employees at all levels. They can identify opportunities, provide feedback, flag areas of concern, and participate in determining solutions that keep you moving to achieve your future. Being fully engaged in the process helps maintain stability of the workforce and keeps turnover in check. Current employees are also the ones you’ll need to source more staff in future. There is a labour shortage.

4. Maintain open communication; use your intranet site if you have one, plus email/voicemail blasts and face-to-face messaging from managers so all staff are getting regular updated communication from the top. Communicate often. Celebrate mini milestones. Be prepared to recognize staff as they achieve new goals.

5. Change is a departure from the status quo; it is not business as usual. Managers are undergoing their own change, but their primary role is to lead others–they are change agents. Ensure a cohesive, on-board management team that can discuss and work through differences within that team.

Only through an effective people change plan will the journey to really begin.

“Recognition Matters”

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

You’ve probably used the phrase “no news is good news”. Well, that doesn’t apply when it comes to acknowledging employees for a job well done. Most employees report that what keeps them motivated and committed is the opportunity to be challenged, achieve results, and be recognized. Recognition itself is consistently ranked by employees as a primary reason for staying or leaving an organization. Gallup Research reports that an employee needs acknowledgement for contributions at least every seven days.

As the recipient of recognition, employees experience greater satisfaction, higher self esteem and increased personal success. Appreciating and valuing employees for the work they do builds team spirit and a positive working environment, both very impactful for organizational success. This is true for individuals from junior to senior levels.

Praise, as recognition, has no monetary cost. Encourage a culture of spontaneous, sincere and personal appreciation of employee efforts. Use this format: 1) give specific examples of the performance; 2) give examples of the personal qualities that allowed them to achieve it; 3) give specific benefits to you, the team and or organization; and 4) give your appreciation.  

Try this
Delivery is everything.  Use a sincere, genuine compliment or words of acknowledgement for outstanding effort and positive results. Rather than saying “you’re well organized”, say “our team was able to focus on their deliverables and meet our deadline because you were well organized and kept the support work up to date”.  Specific, timely feedback will reinforce and encourage employees to continue the behaviour.

Repeat often.