Engaging Employees in Organizational Change

A Client Story: How Employees were Engaged after an Organizational Change was Launched and Failing.

The Problem

In this situation, the client launched a complex organizational change initiative and then realized after the fact that employee participation was needed for the change to be successful. This realization came to be after a number of starts and stops with the initiative.

The initiative was led by management staff who were not closest to the problem being solved. Employees became frustrated after a number of starts and stops that were directly impacting their ability to get the work done. This created employees who were angry and offended. When they were finally asked to participate, their frustration escalated and they became disengaged. Employees knew that had they been brought in and engaged earlier to share their feedback, the change would have been shaped differently and the starts and stops would not have occurred. This “hiccup” in launching a major organizational change initiative created a negative impact on the bottom line.

When ACG was brought in to help rescue the troubled change initiative, it had been stopped for the fourth time. At this point, over $250,000 had been invested in the initiative. We needed to get employees reengaged and participating in this complex change initiative for it to be a success.

How the Problem Was Solved

A four step approach was taken to solve the problem:

  • Acknowledged that employees should have been involved. We apologized for not getting employees involved and acknowledged in hindsight that it was not the correct approach. While it was not an acceptable excuse, we explained our reasoning behind our actions.
  • Developed a strategic communication plan. We developed a strategy to communicate about the change that focused on sharing the following:
    • Why the change was happening (what is the problem to be solved, what is driving the change)
    • How the current state was impacting the business and individual employees
    • The desired end result of the change (what does the future look like)
    • The support we needed from employees to help get from the now to the future.
  • Created a stakeholder support committee. We created a stakeholder support committee comprised of non-management employees who were closest to the problem and would be most impacted by the initiative. This group would help us to craft the change initiative based on input from this group and their co-workers. They would help us to communicate about the initiative throughout the organization.
  • Restarted the initiative. We restarted the initiative after the Stakeholder Support Committee had time to share information about the change and why it had to happen. We gave the Committee one month to have conversations; ensuring they had time away from the job to talk to co-workers. The restarted initiative was based on feedback from employees who were engaged by the Stakeholder Support Committee. This feedback shaped the change initiative by providing the “how” to get from the now to the future.

Result: Full Employee Participation and Goal Achieved

As a result of stepping back and engaging employees, we were able to shorten the time duration for the change initiative when it was relaunched. The employees closest to the problem had a number of ideas to get from the now to the future. We took the best of those ideas to create a path for improvement that would meet the goals of the initiative (the future vision.)

Employees participated in a variety of ways,

  • Contributing ideas
  • Piloting testing
  • Responding to surveys/providing feedback

The end result, when the initiative was completed, was that employees fully embraced the change. They continued to provide feedback over the next few months to work through any additional issues that arose and to support each other through adapting to the change.

Want to learn more? Contact Abudi Consulting Group today.

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