Gaining team buy-in is critical to implementing a new system or process. Many companies do a great job selecting the system or process that will yield new efficiencies. However, it’s just as important to focus on the people affected by the change. The two ways you do this are communication and involvement.
So what are the best practices for implementing effective change management with communication and involvement?
First, represent your employees
During your decision process, represent your end users. For each user role, have a well-respected team lead or influential manager present to reflect that stakeholder group. This person understands the needs of his or her team and can report back on progress made during decision meetings. This gives your users a voice to address concerns or requests.
Before your meetings adjourn, make sure your team representatives are on the same page regarding what decisions have been made. This ensures they go back and report the same progress to their teams, and avoids biases. When your managers update their team members, the end users can feel more secure knowing their interests are being represented — and they can be more receptive to the change.
Second, stop rumors fast
Proactively updating your organization should stop the rumor mill from spreading. It is often in a void of updates that employees will feel anxiety and confusion about the system being chosen.
If a rumor does surface, set the record straight right away. Address the concern being reflected in the rumor, and explain the facts of the decision-making process and logic behind it.
Third, speak to your users’ needs
It’s no secret that systems and processes are meant to increase overall organizational efficiency. This could be cost cutting, productivity improvements, or generating more revenue. Your end users are probably worried more about their daily tasks than the overall company efficiencies. So when you sell the new system internally, it’s important to speak to these values.
Ask yourself, “What do my end users care about that this system fixes?” This is the communication you should lead with, to show them how the new system adds value to their day. It might cut email, reduce steps in a workflow, save them a manual processes, teach them a new technology skill, or something similar. When your end users see the new system adds value to their life, it will make more sense for them.
Fourth, share personal experience with the new system
Find someone at your company that has used this system, or a similar one, in the past. Have this person offer a session, perhaps over lunch, where he or she can talk to personal experience with the system. Open the talk to a Q&A, so users can directly voice their fears with the product. Have the speaker address the questions to the best of their knowledge.
By understanding what to expect with the new system and reducing unknowns, your users can significantly reduce stress associated with change management.
Finally, set them up for success
Your teams need to be able to work on one system today, and easily transition to the new one tomorrow. When you flip the switch on the new system, make sure your employees are equipped and confident in their new workflows. This means giving them the training, hardware, software, documentation, and point of contact they need to be both comfortable and successful.
Communication is core to effective change management. This includes proactive and reactive communication. Remember to:
- Represent all stakeholders before the decision is made
- Keep end users in the loop
- Curb rumors quickly
- Offer a Q&A with someone who has used the new system
- Set your end users up for success