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The two key ingredients to successfully managing change

We know organisational change can seem a bit daunting to employees, but we also know workers handle this change much better if they are included in – and informed about – each step of the transformation process with clear communication.

Giving your employees control over what is happening around them will empower them through the change process and reduce negative impacts on their mental health. Many people like change, they just want a say in how that change will look.

Here’s how one Victorian local government body is making sure its employees are a big part of current organisational change.

The council is transforming all its business processes, including going paperless, increasing data use in strategic planning and implementing hot desking to break down perceived divisional silos. Staff have been involved every step of the way in the new WoW – Way of Working – process, including surveys, focus groups, regular team meetings and weekly communication via an executive leadership newsletter. This has all fostered a real organisational excitement about the WoW way forward and shows that, where possible, it’s important to give your employees control over how their new future will look and work. It’s also vital you tell them why the change must happen.

Ensure a shared understanding of the rationale

At the very start of the change process, write a list of the problems, risks or inefficiencies damaging your business’s long-term viability, and communicate that to your staff so they understand what will happen if change doesn’t occur. Do you need to take a bigger step into the digital world? Are your competitors under-cutting you on price? Are your overheads too high? Explain all this to your employees. If they know the why, it will make it much easier for them to accept the how and when of change.

The key: Communication and control

It’s essential to inform your staff throughout the whole change process via a clear communication strategy. For example, Google has a weekly Thank God It’s Friday meeting (in person and by video) where co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin host the entire company for updates, including product demonstrations, welcoming of new hires, and 30 minutes of fielding questions from anyone in the company, on any topic. It’s a fantastic way to communicate constant organisational change on a regular basis and allow your employees to communicate back to you.

Here’s some other great tips from Business Queensland to help you and your employees successfully navigate the organisational change process:

  • List the problems, risks, weaknesses and inefficiencies that are threats to your business growth
  • List the steps you need to take to rectify these issues
  • Communicate these issues to your staff
  • Set project targets and goals, and involve employees in this planning process
  • Establish clear points for staff discussion and input
  • Schedule regular one-on-one meetings, discussion sessions and arrange for counselling for employees who may be struggling with the change
  • Be open and honest with employees always
  • Celebrate reaching goals and targets
  • Be a clear, consistent and confident leader.

For more information on communication:

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