The only constant in life is change. It’s also true in business, but lately, change itself is changing. Those at the top realize it’s vital to not just implement that great platform, new business model or software, but also to get employees excited, build connections, and foster the kind of engagement that fuels innovation and brings lasting results. Otherwise, new systems, operating models, pricey software and revolutionary platforms don’t live up to their potential.
Think you’re doing it right? Many leaders do: 90% of execs say their company caters to people’s needs when introducing new tech, yet only 53% of staff agree, according to a recent PwC Tech at Work survey.
Change requires a mindset that hinges on curiosity and fearlessness. If you think differently from the start, you can avoid these four typical trouble spots—and hit them first with proven solutions.
1. Speak the same language
A common language is the primary building block of good communication. When things are in flux, it’s especially important to get everyone on the same page. Create familiarity and set clear expectations with those on the giving and receiving end of transformation. Start by creating a company-wide glossary or style guide with common terms—then throw out less-useful jargon. Get everyone—from the teams managing the change to the last employee to be onboarded—using the same lexicon.
If different departments and systems use varied terminology to describe the same thing, it increases the likelihood of misunderstandings and mistakes. That leads to lower rates of adoption and impedes the success of your new initiative.
2. Get visibility–on everything
“Where are we at with this—and is it impacting that?” How many times have you heard something similar and had to go dig into various plans and navigate blindly to answer? It’s likely your company is going through multiple changes across businesses—a new software platform here, a new integration there. Your project likely has overlaps or sideways impact on others, but most change misses that big picture—instead doing fire drills and urgent fixes when demands collide.
But if you can set up a big-picture view to see all your initiatives at once, you’re ahead of the game. For example, you could see what R&D was doing, and how that might affect the sales software change, or if that finance restructuring would impact how your new system accounts for revenue projections.
A comprehensive view, along with the ability to strategize the big picture, helps break down silos and better prioritize projects. Real-time insights can also reduce change fatigue and help those in charge of the change intelligently analyze the organization. No need to wonder about project status or manually update endless spreadsheets.
3. Increase transparency
If human resources doesn’t know what tech is doing, and the board isn’t sure what the c-suite is planning, and no one knows why they’re making changes, don’t expect successful transformation. In typical siloed workplaces, clear information and communication isn’t always the norm, ultimately resulting in frustration. Transparency across the ranks and meaningful communication is key.
Messaging should be regular, personalized, and delivered when and where employees want it. So think about how to provide ways to simply and easily access the information without going into overload—such as news summaries, social media posts about the latest initiative, and alerts directly to your inbox.
But it’s not just pushing the messages out; you should hear directly from employees about whether the roll-out is working for them, too. Consider instant surveys, polls, and easily accessible feedback forms as ways to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly.
4. Open up to new ways of working
The face of work is drastically transforming—and no industry is immune. The methods of 10 years ago, 10 months ago, or even 10 days ago may not work now or tomorrow. Digital tools and tech shape our life and work. And with it come new methods and expectations. Speed. Transparency of information. The ability to solve problems quickly. Simple remote interaction. All of these technical tools cut down on paperwork, increase collaboration, and leave time for people to do more meaningful work.
Consider gamification to support new initiatives. Many of us are motivated by a friendly, competitive spirit. Make change more of a game, you’re more likely to get more genuine interest from employees. Also, give your people in-the moment access to information. Make it short, sweet, and as easy to digest as possible. You’ll also cut out lost time, leverage new digital tools that connect your old ways of working to the new, and use the common language you’ve established.
At the beginning of the century, Google Chief Engineer Ray Kurzweil predicted that the equivalent of 20,000 years of progress would be crammed into the next 100 years. The digital age generates a demand for constant innovation, collaboration, and improvement in order for organizations to remain competitive. With smarter ways to navigate, communicate, and engage around change, companies are more likely to stay ahead of the competition.