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Communicating Need For Change In Organisations

The saying that change is the only constant thing is often bandied around in conversations, in business settings and relationships, to make people come to terms with the reality of change and what it brings. People are usually stuck in a rut and are comfortable doing what they are used to. Change always comes with an element of uncertainty, probably if people are aware of the benefits of change, they might be less averse to it.
In organisational settings why is it difficult to enforce change?
To start working in an organisation, one has most likely passed an impressionable state, and at that age, attitudes, values and character are already fully formed, so it could be quite difficult to make people behave in a certain way or model their actions to a certain pattern. Hence, the bigger the organisation the more difficult it is to change. It is possible but requires a certain level of commitment.
How can change be communicated and above all how can it be long lasting and effective?
Form a team
At the initial stages or beginning of a customer experience turnaround or any turnaround, it is crucial to form a cross functional team. This is to make the employees have a stake and feel they have a form of input or say in the changes that are being proposed. It is also crucial for the team to be composed of critical departments that have an influence over the eventual outcome and have an influence or an input for the touch points the organisation have.
These may include but not limited to members of IT, finance, back end, branches and many more. Solutions must be home grown because the involvement of critical stakeholders at the initial stages helps to build momentum and excitement and it gives a form of credibility. This is because the solutions that are proposed come from the rank and file as against those created and imposed from top to bottom; the solutions are more credible and long lasting since members of the team run the day-to-day affairs and come across more customers than those at the corporate headquarters.
While I was in the banking sector, one of such bright ideas on a new product, came from the head office, though I understood from a broader perspective the impact the product was meant to achieve. Looking at the peculiarity of the environment in which the branch was located, I knew the product was dead on arrival.
The product requirements, appeal and conditionality did not match the environment nor the host community in which we operated and true to type it didn’t last more than the first month before the plug was pulled off.
This is why the core team on ground and the front line need to be carried along for lasting and effective change, as the head office or corporate headquarters can’t be everywhere at the same time; and as the saying goes ‘who is better to protect a stolen item than the thief himself.’
Communicate the need for change
As the late Myles Munroe once said “when purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable”. As communication is key in relationships, so also it is in change initiatives; over communication cannot be over emphasised. Apart from communicating change, it is vital to also include the need for change and why it is dangerous to remain the same. The need for change has to be properly understood. The ‘why’ must first be answered before the nitty-gritty of the ‘how’ can be properly understood and assimilated.
In his wisdom, a top executive ordered us to have review meetings every evenings, in addition to the daily morning reports, in order to give a run down on the day’s activities. It was created to control and bring order to our itinerary as sales men. However, we just saw it as a burden, we played along to fulfil all righteousness not to get sanctioned, but once the leader left the business, the late evening meetings went along with him, as we all heaved a sigh of relief and stopped altogether, as we were already skipping some days.
Proper articulation for why changes are made should be explained and crafted as well as the benefits and impacts of such changes. To a large extent people must be carried along and made to understand why. Convincing messages should be crafted via meetings, town hall meetings, teleconferences, mails, intranets and other in-house communication channels.
Proper controls and mechanisms must be in place
What gets measured is what gets done? Change cannot be articulated and sustained by an e-mail blast on a Monday morning; reinforcement mechanisms and checks must be in place. This is done by training and also ensuring the necessary tools are in place and that people are accountable through appraisals and assessments, also by rewarding the right behaviour individually and as a group.
This will ensure that everyone will be a check on themselves; individual and group bonuses for performance can also be introduced, trackers can also be put in place for people that blaze the trail and deviants to be either celebrated publicly or punished, creating an atmosphere of competition.
Build capacity
Capacity also has to be built across the entire organisation, on the right attitudes and models to follow, this can be done by picking the right models within the organisation or in each departmental to act as the flag bearers, to ensure everyone or at least most come to the party.
Once the people are built up and have the required capacity, every other thing will fall in place, as the saying goes- “take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.”
The desired behaviour has to be properly modelled by top executives and designated coaches within the system. People or departments that mirror the desired changes should be singled out for praise and appreciation.
Though there is no single silver bullet model for change, to ensure change is sustainable and stands the test of time, the above principles should be judiciously followed for great impact.

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