You know the drill: Change is the only constant. Now, Janet Gasper Chowdhury, Managing Consultant (People & Change practice), PwC, tells you how to outflank change.
Tactic 1: Build Credibility
Evidence suggests that people are antagonized by the way most organizations bring about change. At best, people comply reluctantly and, at worst, actively resist management initiatives. Either outcome amounts to wasted time and resources, because a management that is misaligned with human nature requires expensive controls to police its employees’ behavior.
The problem is that decisions are made by management behind closed doors without input from the very staff who are expected to change their behavior. It is important to involve people to understand their concerns and apprehensions. Leadership needs to be in tune with what is happening at the grassroots and CIOs need to know the truth at those levels.
Tactic 2: Communicate with the Troops
Employees resist change only when that change is foisted on them without their consent. Conversely, they are open to change when they understand and accept the reasons for it. At far-sighted companies, IT leaders, with the sponsorship of executive management, have a clear vision of what they want to achieve. They nurture alliances with business unit leaders, set an example by being early adapters, and communicate continually using a variety of on- and off-line vehicles.
Specifically to your department: The issue of job loss is one of the many concerns that employees have. But this may not be the case and a CIO re-train and re-deploy staff. But it is poor communication that makes employees think that there will be job loss because their manual tasks will now be done by a system.
Tactic 3: Stick to English
Success in IT requires common understanding. Members of the executive management team are able to communicate effectively about finance, for example, because they all speak the same language and agree on a common set of financial metrics. These corporate leaders do the same with most elements of operations, customer service, and marketing. IT is no different. Much of the responsibility for demystifying IT lies with the CIO. Far-sighted CIOs speak the language of business. Instead of confusing non-IT staffers with abstruse technological references, experienced CIOs successfully bridge the business-IT communication gap. The ability to translate the promise of IT into business reality is what allows effective CIOs to transform IT from a legacy-burdened infrastructure to a strategic enabler of corporate performance.
Tactic 4: Train More
Today, companies acknowledge that their most important assets are their people. Few, however, actually follow through on this belief. Change projects still typically devote the bulk of their budgets to technology and processes rather than staff issues. They invest minimally in educating people about new systems and processes, which lead to failure of IT initiatives.
More often than not, change management is confused with training. It is not. Change includes understanding people readiness, identifying groups of impacted people, branding a change initiative, involving people in decisions, driving initiatives to help build awareness and change mindsets, measuring the impact of change, etcetera.
Tactic 5: Don’t Block Incoming Traffic
Leading companies solicit feedback from employees affected by a new IT program or initiative. They survey employees and communicate directly with them. They also offer support to anyone having follow-up questions after an implementation. To maintain momentum, these companies also acknowledge progress with the new programs and initiatives, scheduling meetings during which employees can discuss positive interactions as a result of the changes that took place. CIOs have to offer employees a forum to voice their opinions about IT initiatives.