Here at Cegos Asia Pacific, we do a lot of events and programmes around the future of work. A big part of our messaging is based on transformation and the fact that change in the workplace is a must-do, and no longer a nice-to-do.
Managers across the region understand this and factor it in to their long-term vision for their company. However, to achieve success, you also need to get your team to invest in the vision and embrace the change necessary to attain it.
Naturally, many people in your workforce fear change. Change inevitably brings a lot of uncertainty and insecurity, possibly a heavier workload and a major upheaval in everyone’s day-to-day job.
Without change, however, you simply won’t be able to compete. So how do you encourage your people to be enthusiastic about change and embrace it, rather than fear it?
- Start a conversation with your team
A major fear of change is the loss of control. If you have a genuine dialogue with your team members – remembering that they are humans and experience a range of emotions – then they are more likely to respond positively.
You need to create a vision for change that paints a picture of what the organisation will look like at the end of it; why it will benefit both your people and your customers.
Don’t overload your people with too much information at once. Heavy documents laden with charts and diagrams won’t get read, so give people enough information to understand the change and how they will be affected personally. Be truthful about change and include some of the possible negative effects if appropriate. People will see through any attempt to bamboozle them.
- Use a variety of ways to communicate your message
There are plenty of ways to communicate change to your people, either in a large group setting or more intimate environments such as one-to-one chats with key leadership.
Don’t forget that social media and other digital platforms offer an engaging experience for your people. Giving your team regular opportunities to access the change message and re-inforce it can help get buy-in over time.
It’s also important to have an open forum for discussion, so that your people can express any concerns and have them allayed. This should happen within a safe environment online as people often feel more confident expressing concerns in writing rather than in person.
- Tell stories to sell the change
You can engage your people emotionally by framing change as a story. Storytelling helps people imagine the future once the change has taken place, and is therefore likely to improve confidence.
Similarly, use analogies or metaphors to describe the result of change. Research shows that people remember more messages communicated in this form than when presented with lists or bullets. Because these types of messages connect with the emotional parts of the brain, they are instantly memorable and powerful.
- Remember that ‘clarity trumps persuasion’
If your change messaging is messy, unclear or inconsistent, then you’re more likely to meet with resistance. On the other hand, clear and consistent messaging will instil confidence, especially around the team responsible for leading the change.
In a previous blog, we looked at how to sell your strategy, which contains advice that applies here too.
As a rule, keep it simple and communicate the following:
- Here’s what our change initiative is about …
- It’s important to do because …
- Here’s what success will look like, especially for you …
- Here’s what we need from you …
- Walk the talk
Your messaging will have much more resonance and credibility if management act and embody the change themselves. Talk is cheap, after all, but putting those words into action early on will make your team more open to change. It will also prevent cynicism and make it easier for you to get your team on board.
Cegos helps leaders and managers develop strategy for change and communicate it effectively to their teams. Contact us to find out more.