We were working with a large financial services company on implementing a new external brand strategy that had implications for internal operations, as well. The company took the new brand public before confirming whether employees were ready to deliver on the brand promise. They weren’t. As a result, the change actually reduced performance, decreased customer satisfaction and eroded profitability.
Change readiness is all about engagement. Had this company assessed change readiness internally before they got started, it might have taken a different strategy. Perhaps it would have prepared internal employees for what the change meant for them, or held off until engagement levels indicated they could better handle such a big change.
Companies facing a change in strategy, policy or operations often feel like they need to focus on forging ahead, quickly. But by stepping back and taking the time to set up a system to monitor their employee-engagement data closely, they can help guide workers through the full implementation process with less stress. Here’s how real-time engagement data can help.
If you’re approaching a major change in your organization and your engagement levels are low, you’ll want to take time to communicate about the reasons and need for change before you get started. Include information about the big picture, as well as the impact the changes will have on departments and individual employees. Use real-time engagement data to monitor your employees’ openness to the change effort.
You can also use employee-engagement data to identify influencers in your organization. These people can serve as ambassadors, getting the word out about the change that’s coming. Support their efforts by equipping them with talking points and insights for individual members on their teams; this one-on-one communication can make it clear to employees what the change means for them.
If your organization is facing an urgent need to change its strategy or operations, you’ll need an agile team to put the plan into action. Use employee-engagement data to identify those people and equip them with the tools and information they need to do their jobs.
Then track your engagement data closely to identify which teams and employees could benefit from extra support and coaching during the pivot.
Change sustainability requires resilient employees and good leaders. We all know that change can create stress, but engaged employees are more likely to be resilient and handle that stress well. Company leaders who inspire trust from employees will also help sustain the momentum of new policies or operations. Use your engagement data to watch for signs of “backsliding” after the change has been made.
Change is always hard, but change in an organization with disengaged employees is even harder. Increase your odds of success by keeping a close watch on the pulse of your employees’ engagement.
Chris Powell is the CEO of BlackbookHR, a software company on a mission to create more engaged and connected workplaces and communities. He previously served as executive vice president of human resources for Scripps Networks Interactive (HGTV, DIY, Food Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel, et al.), as vice president of human resources for the global financial services company ING, and in various corporate HR roles at Marriott International.
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