The first step
Whatever you may need to change - a server in the basement, a shift in strategy, downsizing or the culture of your company - it begins with awareness.
Creating awareness is answering questions that fulfills the human need to know "why". Why is it necessary, why now, what is wrong with our current approach. Moreso, the employee would want to know what's in it for them?
Build a story
A change story can be difficult to construct, but it is easily approached by asking a series of questions.
- Begin with Why should we change? By establishing the central message of why change is necessary, you construct a burning platform on which you communicate. The platform must generate a controlled sense of urgency that change is necessary for the company to survive or thrive.
- Follow up with a sense of direction. Where are we going? It is important that you speak to both head and heart when you are drawing the bigger picture - especially if the reasons for changing is not apparent to your employees to begin with. In your change story, the vision and purpose of the change are central pillars that must be shown again and again. Show the attractive future.
- You must be concrete. Be truthful in what demands and requirements are expected, and tell what it will take to move your company from A to B. What will happen?
- In the overall change strategy, the last question answers the 'how'. How will we do it? Here you can make the change real by continuously explaining how you will implement the change. Show the real planning and show a realistic one. Who will be affected and how?
- Insofar we've built a change story that connects the vision to the business. The employee perspective however rarely fits into the overall business strategy, but your employees will certainly sit back with the question of What's in it for me? This is both a practical issue of how daily work tasks are affected, but also a personal one. You need to consider both perspectives: what concerns does the employees have? What do they stand to gain from the change? And finally, how will it impact their life and livelihood?
When you begin to communicate your story, you will encounter a series of reactions over time. This can be split into four phases: the shock phase, the reaction phase, the action phase and the new orientation phase. In the model below, you can see how the reaction can change over time and what to focus on in your communication. Being prepared for reactions in the change process is a fundamental element in handling resistance and pushing towards a positive orientation.