Maintaining Employee Engagement While Implementing Change
Implementing and managing change in a company is always a significant challenge, and one of the crucial factors for it to be successful and permanent is the level of employee engagement. The people that make up the company need to be invested in the process throughout all of its stages. In the end, they are the ones that the company depend on to make the changes long-lasting.
This is why maintaining employee engagement needs to be an essential part of your change management strategy. Here are three valuable tips to help you out:
Tip 1: Involve as many employees as possible into the conversation
As successful change management hinges on the employees to a very large extent, the effective change leader should get them involved and emotionally invested as early on as possible. The best way to do so is to spark a conversation about why the company needs to change. They should explain what the challenges the company is currently facing are, and what the perfect solutions for them would look like.
It’s very important to notice that you should not lecture people, and you should not start with projecting a ready-made vision, even when you have one. What you need to do is talk about the threats and opportunities that the current market environment presents, and publicly asking the question how the company should react and adapt to those forces. The conversation should be ongoing, open and honest, and employees should feel they are being listened to. This will make them feel invested and connected to the process of change. It will also make it more likely for them to stay engaged throughout the duration of the whole transformation.
Tip 2: Praise and reward change agents
When change is already under way, you need to empower and reward the people that are participating in it in a productive way. The executive that has taken the lead on change management needs to make finding and rewarding positive change agents one of their highest priority tasks. This can be quite motivating for the workforce, and you should be looking to praise, not just team leaders and managers that have helped facilitate the change, but lower-level employees as well.
Everybody needs to feel that their efforts are appreciated, and they also need to see the benefits of their work. You should praise the people that are contributing to the process, but you should also show how the change they are working to support is transforming the organization for the better. The process should be divided into a multitude of small steps so you can declare wins as often as possible. When any small step towards positive chance is completed, you should praise and credit the employees that took part in it. This will boost morale, and would motivate people to continue contributing.
Tip 3: Make the vision clear and accessible
When the change momentum is moving forward, it’s sometimes easy to keep the vision to yourself, while only giving people and departments specific directions. This is simply not enough. Everybody in the company needs to know what is going on, why it is going on, and how the vision for the future looks like. When nobody is in the dark, people have an easier time understanding their own roles in the process, so it is easier for them to participate and contribute. Having clarity about the vision for the future allows employees to do their part while staying motivated, instead of being confused and dissatisfied by the efforts they are being asked to make. Most people are resistant to changing their habits, so providing them with the context and reasoning behind what is going on will make it easier for them to get on board.
Even if some employees remain resistant to the process of change, most will accept it, and will be happy to be a part of it. This can be achieved by making the company’s future vision easy to understand and easy to access.
You should also address any negative attitudes. This should be done in the context of the proposed vision and the benefits it can bring in a discussion that is honest, open and non-assertive.
As mentioned above, implementing change is not easy, and you need your whole organization to be your allies. This is why devoting a lot of energy and resources to maintain high employee engagement is important. It should be a metric that never slips off your radar, and you should be constantly trying to both measure and improve it, while the process of change is moving forward.