Talking about the essential elements you need to consider when implementing change as your organisation becomes digital.
Welcome to the Digital Workplace Podcast. Here to help you work smarter and get more done!
He once made an aerobatics instructor, airsick!
Here is your host, our resident digital workplace expert, Grant Crawley.
There are many change management methodologies. Ranging from next to no change management at all, to structured formal systems such as Prosci ADKAR®.
I’m known for a no-nonsense approach to just about everything I do, probably stemming from my LEAN background and the desire to drive out waste anywhere I see it. However, when it comes to change management you really do need to think about it in the context of your organisation.
In this episode, I’m going to talk about the essential elements you need to consider when implementing change as your organisation becomes digital.
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But first, what’s new in the world of digital technology.
Recently, WordPress released version 5.9, “Josephine”. Adding important new features such as full site editing from the WordPress Admin console, a new 2022 theme and a new Navigation block giving you an always-on responsive menu. In short the best web content management system, just got better.
I don’t want to make this an advert for WordPress, but when your organisation embarks on a journey to become digital, a customer-facing website is essential. You want that website to be engaging, interactive and useful for customers, even if you’re not running it as an ecommerce site. That means you need a technology underpinning the website that enables the most flexibility and ease of management for your company, and that technology is WordPress along with its nearly 60,000 free plugins and over 9,000 themes.
My feature on “Change Management” will be up next, after this…
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Change management depends on effective communications. Without effective communications, the change is doomed to failure. The difficulty comes with identifying what communications channels are going to be effective in your organisation, and that depends a lot on the number of people involved and the organisational culture. In general, the smaller the organisation, the easier change is to manage, because it’s easier to ensure everyone is communicated to effectively.
Whatever the size of your organisation, the change needs to be managed in the same way, going through the same stages. In this case smaller means quicker, and that’s mostly because there is less delay in communicating with everyone involved.
The stages start with awareness, you need to make everyone aware that changes are coming. What they are, what business needs are driving the change and what individual needs are being met. Deliver a compelling business case that your employees and colleagues can relate to and see that it means better, easier or faster ways of working for them. That’s going to help with the next stage, where you want to build desire. Change is far easier to manage if everyone wants it.
After you’ve built awareness and desire, the next step is to give individuals the knowledge and understanding about the change, equipping them to work in a new way through training and guidance.
Finally, you need to reinforce the change to ensure that the new tools and ways of working become embedded in your organisation.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the most effective ways of communicating with the people in your organisation. Not all of these will be suitable and the effectiveness will vary depending on the culture, nature of what your organisation does, how the people work and the tools you have available.
Starting with the very analogue way of working, in-person group meetings. These are very effective for small groups or teams, but as the groups and teams get larger their effectiveness drops off quite rapidly.
- In-person meetings 1-2-1 to group
- Online meetings 1-2-1 to group
- Broadcast email
- Tailored or personalised email
- Video casts
- Audio podcasts
- Animated screencasts
- Instant messaging
- Internal social media
- Pop-up messaging on devices
- Screensavers and wallpapers
- Digital champion networks
- Top-down leadership cascades
For meetings, you should have them hosted by a senior leader or team member who the participants know, like and trust. There’s no point in putting someone abrasive or divisive in front of a change audience, it will immediately cause resistance and that’s hard to eradicate.
Broadcast emails are ok for a general invite to attend some other communication channel, but don’t use it to introduce a complex change, it’s not personal and it’s not interactive in any way. It sets you up for misunderstandings, misinterpretation and resistance. The other time it’s ok to use broadcast emails is when some action is happening or required, but use it as part of a broad mix of other channels.
Even tailored or personalised email is difficult, many organisations send out too many “notifications” or internal news, so firstly it may well get lost in the inbox clutter and again it’s not interactive and sets you up for misunderstandings, misinterpretation and resistance.
Webinars are a great way to get the message out in a consistent way, you can deliver the whole message but it’s absolutely essential you have a good proportion of the session dedicated to Q&A. That can be either by typed questions or by an open discussion. It really depends on your organisational culture which one would work best. Many people like the ability to raise questions anonymously, and you’re more likely to elicit honest and open discussion if you structure it that way.
Now we come to the “casts” – broadcasts, video, audio and animation. These can deliver the messages in a much less ambiguous way than purely text, and depending on the way you deliver them you can use the delivery mechanism to enable a Q&A discussion. Video and animation allow you deliver a show and tell message. Reinforce that by introducing a podcast, video podcast and an intranet page to keep everyone updated for the duration of the project.
Instant messaging and internal social media is great for Q&A, and if you can integrate that with your broadcasts all the better. That way you only have a single place you need to address questions, and can deliver additional broadcast messages to explain areas that you identify are causing issues or worries.
As changes start to be rolled out, turned on or deployed that’s when to use pop-up messages, screen savers and desktop wallpapers. Use them in conjunction with broadcast instant messaging, personalised or tailored emails and now’s the time to get your digital champions and leadership teams mobilised.
So that’s a reasonable menu of options, but you should build an end-to-end change plan, and it should go from the earliest possible moment, through to T-zero , the day the change is implemented, and then onwards to the end of the change project and transition to business as usual.
For a change plan I like to put dates across the top of a spreadsheet, and then rows for each of the channels. It’s hard to describe on a podcast, so head on over to virtco.com/change and read my blog post on the subject along with an example change plan you can download.
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