Managing Perceptions of Change

Implementing Positive Organizational Change

In order for change to be successful, it is essential to manage perceptions of change. Our perceptions of change are based on any number of factors, including, but not limited to:

  • How successful we perceive past change initiative in the current organization
  • How successful we perceive past change initiatives in previous organization
  • What is currently going on in our personal lives
  • What is going on in the workplace
  • Whether there is trust in leadership
  • Whether the organization communicates effectively and sufficiently

Let’s look at two client examples1 with a focus on what was done to manage perceptions of change and engage the employees in change. Both clients are large, global organizations. The change initiatives launched at both can be classified as complex – cross-functional and impacting a significant portion of the organization, as well as forcing changes to major business processes.

Client 1: Client 1 wanted to launch a change following two previous failed changes. The previous two failed due to poor timing and lack of sufficient engagement of employees prior to launching the change. A survey sent to employees indicated that perceptions of change were negative. Employee survey feedback indicated that:

  • It was perceived that leadership was pushing change through too fast without consideration for work that had to be completed to meet product launch deadlines.
  • Communication on change initiatives was insufficient leaving the perception that leadership was hiding something.
  • The changes were not fully understood by employees; they didn’t seem as urgent as leadership seemed to think they were.

In order to manage perceptions of this next change initiative, prior to launching the change, Abudi Consulting Group worked behind the scenes with senior leadership to:

  • Frame a vision for the upcoming change to ensure an understanding of the change
  • Develop a plan to address the issues surfaced in the employee survey
  • Develop a communication and engagement plan to engage employees in the change prior to launching the change
  • Create and launch a Stakeholder Support Committee to ensure employee involvement from throughout the organization

Two months were spent sharing information and holding conversations and communications in a variety of formats to discuss the project before it was officially kicked off.

Client 2: Client 2 had launched other change initiatives, but usually simpler, continuous type change initiatives. They recognized the change initiative to be launched would be impactful to the organization as many employees were being shifted into other roles due to merging of two business units. While no employees would be laid off due to the change, some employees may be less than excited about the changes that were being made.

Abudi Consulting Group was brought in to work alongside the executives to help employees see the benefit of the change not only from the organization’s perspective, but also from the perspective of the employees. This entailed significant time holding small group, department, and all-staff meetings as well as utilizing internal communication channels (email, e-newsletter, company internal site) to share information around the change with a focus on how employees would benefit from the change, the fact that no employee would be laid off and that training would be provided prior to any changes being implemented.

Employees were provided a variety of channels to provide feedback on the change as well as to ask questions. Some channels enabled for anonymous feedback.

Three weeks was spent sharing information and talking with employees prior to the change initiative being kicked off.

To manage perceptions of change, follow these best practices:

  • Acknowledge past change initiatives that were less than successful and have a plan to correct what went wrong
  • Engage employees in change by
    • Sharing the vision for the change
    • Explaining the benefit of the change for the employees
    • Sharing any plans around training and transition time to move from the “now” to the “future”
    • Creating and launching a Stakeholder Support Committee
  • Develop a communication strategy early on and ensure regular and consistency communications prior to start and throughout the change initiative, through to implementation and roll out.
  • Check in with employees after the change is launched to see how it is going for them

Want to learn more about either of these clients or how we work with clients to ensure change initiatives are successful? Contact Us today to learn more. We love to talk about change!

1. Both client examples are shared in brief and at a very high level.

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