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Organizational Change and Employee Engagement

Following the easing of the Covid-19 restrictions, there appears to be an upsurge in the number of organizations that, for a variety of reasons, have made the decision to embark on an organizational change journey.

It is reasonable to assume that all of these organizations aim to achieve successful change and plan to apply the necessary resources, time, and effort to ensure this happens.

There is, however, one crucial aspect of organizational change which is routinely overlooked during the change process. That is employee engagement. This is somewhat surprising given the abundance of evidence that supports the fact that organizations that engage employees at the outset and throughout the change journey are more likely to achieve sustainable change.

There is one crucial aspect of organizational change which is routinely overlooked during the change process. That is employee engagement.

Why then is employee engagement not consistently at the top of the mind during the change process?

In my experience, too many organizations, once the change decision is made, quickly move to the execution phase, give little consideration to engaging the hearts and minds, and are surprised when their efforts are unsuccessful.

Engaging employees in the change process requires managers and leaders to demonstrate Change Leadership i.e. the actions and behaviors needed to lead change effectively. To successfully deploy Change Leadership requires an understanding of the nature of change and how to transition individuals and teams through the journey.

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The key elements of Change Leadership include:

  1. Outlining the change journey that will lead to success.
  2. Communicating the change story. This includes the business rationale for the change, the burning platform for why change cannot wait, and how you will drive change by utilizing a coalition of change agents including sponsors and key stakeholders.
  3. Sharing a compelling vision of the future and a strategy showing how you plan to achieve that vision. The strategy should include the capabilities and the culture required as well as how you will measure success.
  4. Demonstrating collaboration and inclusivity by seeking employee feedback on the vision and strategy as well as asking employees to identify any barriers to success and how these can be overcome. Any input provided should be considered and relevant changes made. This will help create a sense of ownership and accountability and minimize resistance to the change.
  5. Clarifying the impact of the change on the business, customers, and employees. Employees will also want to know how the change affects them and ‘what’s in it for me’.
  6. Walking the talk throughout the change process, it is crucial that leaders buy into the change and demonstrate commitment and confidence in the change.
  7. Talking the talk—communications must be continuous, inspirational, clear, and empathetic. Any promises made must be followed through to avoid breaking trust.

The inclusion of the above Change Leadership elements in the change process will not only place people at the center but will significantly increase the sustainability of the desired change.