Managing Your People Through Change

So you've decided you need a new plan for your organization. Assuming that you've taken into consideration all the reasons for taking this on, have you thought about your people through this process?

Many organizations forge ahead with new organizational and strategic plans without considering the effect it can have on their staff. Not only could the outcome change components of their work life, but the process itself can be a bumpy road. It takes a plan in itself to manage the changes, and putting some work into to this ahead of time is actually less effort and time than dealing with the problems that can occur if you don't plan.

You've heard in many walks of life that communication is key. It's no different here----lack of information only fuels the gossip mill and can create untruths and more work than your HR person bargained for. Good, clear, frequent communication, and it doesn't take much, will help staff feel like they matter.

You need a Communication plan.
The single biggest shortcoming of typical communication is that it is usually an afterthought. It seems like no one ever thinks of the implications of communicating a plan (or anything else in an organization for that matter) until it is nearly too late. The result is that the communication tactics are rushed, and less than ideal, and the implications of communication were never incorporated in the plan. The sooner you consider the implications of communicating the plan, the more successful your communication will be.

Ensure that all your top-tier people are bought in and on board.
Make sure that your managers are convinced and prepared to follow through on recommendations made by a consultant or internal facilitator. They need to walk the walk so that commitment filters down to your front-line people.

There is no such thing as too much information.
Communicate your plan of attack to the rest of the organization---often. Even if you have nothing to report, send out a weekly communication, in whatever form suits your company. Hold communication lunches, send e-news and get everyone involved. Make sure there are lots of opportunities and forums, including confidential ones, for staff to have their questions and concerns addressed.

Your people are a wealth of information and competency. Use them.
Staff may find it difficult to trust a plan upon which they haven't been consulted. They know your company from a different perspective. Getting your employees involved will create a vested interest in the process and the result. Who knows what amazing contributions might lie in the minds of your people!

Implement the necessary changes immediately.
Getting these in place as soon as possible shows staff that you not only care about their input but will act upon it. There will be no-brainers, such as solving a parking issue or providing family leave days, for example, that mean a lot to people and are quick and easy to put into place.

Your people are your most important resource and a lot of investment goes into their recruiting, training and retention. It's amazing how quickly they're forgotten as the company goes in new directions. Include them, involve them and talk to them---and their direction will be yours.