Employees around the world are reporting that big organizational changes are affecting their jobs. From leadership transitions and restructurings.
Employees around the world are reporting that big organizational changes are affecting their jobs. From leadership transitions and restructurings, to mergers and acquisitions, to regulatory changes, there seems to be constant unrest in the workforce. But according to one survey of more than half a million U.S. employees, almost one-third don’t understand why these changes are happening.
This can be detrimental for any company trying to implement change. When employees don’t understand why changes are happening, it can be a barrier to driving ownership and commitment and can even result in resistance or push back. And employees’ resistance to change is a leading factor for why so many change transformations fail.
Executives and those responsible for leading change cannot assume that employees understand the reasoning behind them. You must spend time explaining the changes and why they are important. Based on my experience supporting organizational change initiatives, there are four key aspects to helping employees understand change, to drive commitment, and to ultimately contribute to your success.
Inspire people by presenting a compelling vision for the future. During times of uncertainty, people experiencing change want a clear view of the path ahead. It’s important to share what you know – including what’s changing, when, and how. But for most change initiatives, it is also helpful to start with a narrative or story that clearly articulates the “big picture” – why change is important and how it will positively affect the organization long-term. This should serve as the foundation for how you communicate about the change moving forward.
To be successful, your story needs to start with the company’s core mission and then offer a compelling and inspiring future vision. You want to answer: How are the changes you make today helping you achieve your vision for tomorrow?
For example, in 2017 our client FMC Corporation was preparing to acquire a significant part of DuPont’s Crop Protection business, which would transform FMC into the fifth-largest crop protection company in the world. As part of their change story, they developed a unifying internal communications campaign called the “Nature of Next” that articulated the reasoning and vision for the acquisition.
The campaign explained how FMC would gain a broader product portfolio, an expanded global footprint, and full-discovery R&D capabilities – all of which helps them achieve their aspirations of helping customers feed a growing population in a sustainable way. While the integration is still underway, the campaign generated excitement for the acquisition among employees, and is still used today to communicate the promise of the new FMC.
Change events are often uncertain, unstable, stressful, and risky. But having a clear meaning or purpose behind the change will strengthen your case. If you can clearly articulate this case, employees will also build a better understanding of the business strategy.
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