Lack of employee acceptance is a main reason for the failure of many company initiatives. Leaders can generate a lot of electricity at the corporate power plant, but if the “power lines” to employees are broken, your energy will not translate to action or results.
What good is a brilliant strategy that never comes to fruition? What is the real cost of failed or forced implementations in terms of employee morale and institutional inertia when the next big initiative comes around?
Here are three ways that can help employees embrace change more quickly while building trust, optimism and empowerment.
- Ask for help and feedback. In highly uncertain environments where change is necessary, you will have to adapt in ways that were not in your original plans. Make the most of that inevitability by letting employees guide you in the adjustments you make, whether it be a simple tweak or a sweeping modification. Grab that feedback, implement it visibly, and elevate the people who suggested it as champions. Do it foremost to show that you are in this change together. The more you can say yes to employee contributions, the more acceptance you will get in return.
- Be clear about roles and activity. A change without defined behaviors is at risk before it begins. Get people to start doing, and the activity will exert its own momentum. Executive leaders carry strategic messages, signal the importance of the changes to business success, and celebrate progress towards defined and specific goals. Managers translate change into action while conveying confidence to employees. Employees implement changes and provide real-time feedback to help the organization adapt and adjust.
- Establish short-term goals and celebrate. Reasoned analysis often initiates change, but the emotions sustain us so that we can bring change to fulfillment. You need champions, momentum and feelings of success to carry change forward. Break large initiatives into smaller goals and celebrate the milestones. If your first opportunity to celebrate is months away or unaccounted for entirely, you can join the long list of companies specializing in serial corporate kickoffs.
When you think about launching a change initiative, view it occasionally from future perspectives. In three to five years, what will employees remember about it?
- Whether you worked collaboratively with them (help and feedback)
- Whether you were clear, trustworthy and confident through the inevitable ups and downs (clear roles and activity)
- Whether the effort was strung with successes that made the work fulfilling, purposeful and fun (goals and celebration)
Do you find your organization is always launching and rarely completing initiatives? Are your power lines to employees down? Strategic communications can help you bridge that gap. Comments are welcome.