We're answering our top five

questions from the Practical Change Management Masterclass below!

Stay tuned to hear our insights on the rest of your questions coming soon.

What are the best ways to celebrate and recognize informal change champions in an organization?

One of the best ways to celebrate informal change champions  leaders in your organization is peer driven recognition.  An easy way to acknowledge your employees for their hard work, is using social media. Intranets and platforms such as Yammer, Microsoft Teams and Achievers are great ways to engage your employees and share your appreciation for them where everyone can see it. Social platforms such as LinkedIn enable user generated content, you can recognize your employee’s efforts by giving them a shout out and tying it back to a relevant hashtag that other people will use when they respond, react or post. Hashtags also are an effective tool for nominating employees for awards or celebrations on these platforms. When employees post about their peers and their contributions to the project on social media, it helps you identify who stands out and why.

 

Recognition visibility is an important part of making your change champions leaders feel celebrated and it also creates effective role models for change in their communities. Using social platforms and internal recognition tools can take your change to the next level, reward and celebration in the change journey is just important as the transformation itself.


It’s important to identify and explore informal change leaders because they can have a very significant impact on the success of your change and the ultimate result of whether your initiative will stick around for the long term. Identifying your informal change leaders is only half the battle, it’s important to understand how to empower them to guide your team in the right direction, towards the desired result.   


The most obvious choices for change leaders are usually the employees in senior positions, your managers, team leads or executives. However, there are plenty of other strategic resources companies can use informally. Leaders and effective influencers exist within teams, departments, and business units all around us regardless of their formal position in the company hierarchy. Informal change leaders are typically employees who are well respected amongst their peers, they are proactive and often encourage a cohesive company culture.

 

They have enough experience within their role or department to have already taken some responsibility helping others, guiding them through problems or issues, and engaging with their team personally.  For more information on how to identify informal change leaders, click here. 

Don’t you worry that we usually use the term Harbinger in the phrase “Harbinger of doom”?

Not at all! While we consider ourselves to be Harbingers of change, we often use the phrase “Harbingers of doom” ourselves. Harbingers are historically known for being the forerunners and announcers of news, often signifying big changes that are good or bad. As Harbingers, we help businesses foresee and manage upcoming change, and sometimes helping organizations realize the need for change means being the bearer of bad news.

 

We’re practical and proactive about change. The business landscape is constantly changing and being one step ahead means constantly questioning and analyzing what worked and what hasn’t. We are Harbingers of change; we have the right tools and strategies to help enable and prepare your business for change that is happening now and in the future. 

What should we do if we have more than 50% not wanting to change due to the threat of job security?

“The most dangerous phrase in our language is we've always done it this way.”
— Rear Admiral Grace Hopper

As Grace Hopper says, forget about what has been done in the past.  The most important thing to do in this case is confirm if there is a threat.   When there are significant changes that have the potential to result in job losses or role changes, it’s important to be timely in what you communicate, and to be transparent.  It’s also key to make sure you are addressing your people’s concerns with compassion. Remember, there’s no such thing as just impacting people’s work lives.   All changes that happen in the workplace  impact personal lives. 

Such changes often take months or longer to plan and execute.  In our opinion, it’s best practice to share decisions as they are made.  Doing so helps to prevent rumours and speculation.  In this instance, if there has been confirmation that there will be job losses, you must take initiative and let your people know as soon as possible.  Here are some steps you can take to communicate the job losses:

  1. Work closely with key project members such as the change manager, communications lead, and human resources partner. Collectively this group should develop an action plan that includes key messaging, timelines and activities that will be completed by senior leadership and people leaders.   It’s incredibly important here to make sure that your senior leadership and leaders are equipped to cascade the message, clearly understand the impacts including what this means for them and their employees, and why the business is making this change.  We also recommend the initial announcement to come from the Executive Sponsor or a significant executive leader to the leadership group. This will help to build trust and demonstrates that there is a clear plan of action in place.  It also provides opportunities for leadership to ask questions and engage with their peers.

  2. Make sure your leaders remain visible and keep an open-door policy so that their employees can approach them as needed with any questions or concerns they have.

  3. Keep your people updated! As time progresses, more details including timelines, or number of employees or roles impacted, will be confirmed so share them.  Some of these updates will require 1:1 conversations. In these cases, it’s important to engage and have the appropriate support from human resources.  

  4. Treat your people like adults and give them time to prepare for the change.  You can do this by providing them with timelines, resources for a career transition, and training or upskilling if their roles or changing.   

  5. Keep a pulse on how your people are feeling. People will experience many ups and downs when there is significant change that includes job losses.  There will be times when some of your people may feel depressed or have anxiety, and there will be others who will not.  Make sure to cater how you support your people based on where they are in the change curve. 

On the other hand, if job losses are not a fact and just speculation, you have to nip this in the bud and announce that this is false. Similar, to the actions above, work closely with the appropriate members of the project to develop an action plan to let your people know that this is not true. Continue to encourage them to communicate their concerns to their leaders and always keep the dialogue open.  

Additionally, some important questions to ask and address in your action plan would be:

  1. How did this rumour start? More often than not, this is a result of not communicating or not providing updates in a timely manner or at all.  If you are not sharing the facts, then your people will make them up. 

  2. Why do our people feel as if this change will result in job losses?  

  3. What can we do to make sure this doesn’t happen again?

In summary, there are several themes in both outcomes including open and timely communications, treating your people with respect and as adults, and leading with compassion and your heart.  Gone are the days of protecting people by hiding information or surprising them with the change.  Now is the time to lead your people through change by acting fast, enabling them to understand what the change is, what it means for them and the company overall, and by providing them with the support needed to work through the change. 
 

What is the biggest trend you’re seeing in transformation as the next generation enters the workforce? 

2

The biggest trend in business transformations we are seeing is change enablement.

 

Change Management is dead, organizations need to prepare employees for constant change. Change today is ongoing, we need to embrace it and enable it by creating a culture of adaptability. Whatever the change may be, we need to be ready for it.

 

More companies today are taking a proactive approach to change by creating a culture of change resiliency, hiring the right people, preparing their employees and giving them leadership skills and development opportunities. As Millennials and Gen Z enter and dominate the workforce, employers should be aware that these individuals are actually very open to change. They are born prepared (just think about all of the everyday changes they experience outside of work including phone system upgrades) and can be useful resources in helping drive change as influencers.

 

It’s important to recognize that leaders of change can lead without title, businesses can empower individual contributors and front-line staff to be the voice of change. Empowering informal leaders are a crucial part of the change journey because these individuals strongly affect how their peers view and act towards the change.

 

Change is driven from the top, but it should be led by the those who thrive on collaboration and are strong communicators. Executives are beginning to realize that it's not just about them being the boss, it’s about them being collaborators and team members, as well as being leaders. 

Is there a type of change you’ve found to be more difficult than others?

The most difficult types of change in our opinion are the ones that have time restrictions. Change should be seen as a journey, but many organizations tend to end the project before new behaviours can be reinforced. When the benefits of the change are not realized within the bounds of the change timeline, it can be very difficult for the people involved to stay committed and engaged.

 

For example, system and process changes can be made as part of an organization’s overall journey towards a bigger milestone. However, they still require employees to change the way they work, learn new things and make changes within the immediate term. To them, this might seem like an unnecessary stress because the benefits of the change are not direct or personally beneficial to the employee during this time.

 

Changes like these are crucial, but they are also part of a bigger picture, making it more difficult to answer the “what” and “why” questions for the people involved. 

Thank you to everyone who attended the Practical Change Management Masterclass for your questions, we'll be answering more of them soon!

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