A. Develop buy-in from stakeholders
The first, and often most argued, important thing which can help with change is developing buy-in.
70% of change management projects fail. Culture is often cited as the number one reason for this. There’s often so much focus on the technical and process deliverables, that the people and the culture are forgotten.
Developing buy-in seems obvious, but 72% of all failures in change management are put down to getting this wrong - whether it be from resistance from managers or employees. The message from the top must be consistent and senior leadership must be invested in the change, for real. They have to really be in it, not just saying they are. We must practice what we preach.
Managers can be the hardest to get on board. They need to be given more ownership of change, rather than just passing down messages. For example, if you want your learners to be completing more self-directed learning, their manager needs to be allowing them time for this and actively encouraging it, rather than saying ‘that’s not important, do this instead.’
Get in the trenches to build advocates
Going back to motivation, we need to really find out about our managers and work closely with them to get them on side. I’m talking literal one-to-ones here. You’d be amazed how much good a ten
minute conversation can do compared to twenty emails. In the past, when I’ve been trying to convince people to change a behaviour, I’ve had to sit down with them, find out their problems and show them how this new thing can really help them. They’d come in sceptics and leave advocates, also feeling much more included. You don’t even necessarily need to do this with everyone as once you get a few on side, it’ll spread.
If you can get even a handful of people genuinely excited about what you’re doing, it can be really powerful. But don’t force this on people. Instead, provide the opportunity to become champions, invest time in getting people excited and position it as a great thing to help them extend their network and add another string to their bow.
Get in there early
Finally on buy-in, get people involved from day one. Give them an amazing onboarding experience which introduces them to the ways of working and get them involved early so it becomes the norm to them. For example, in one of my previous companies, on every person’s first day, we would encourage them to record a video of themselves saying who they are and share it across the business. This was a great way to welcome people and make everyone seem more human. And as it’s done on their first day, no one objected and it sent clear message that video communication was something we do.
B. Communicate continuously
Taking another page out of the book of marketing, communicate more than you think necessary. This all starts with the vision and really selling why you’re trying to do whatever it is you’re doing. You have to get hearts and minds on your side.
Linking back to our consumer-grade experiences, market to your users like you would your customers. Don’t just send out a boring 1000 word email. Instead create a fun video, do something more inspirational, create teaser trailers, make cake, whatever you need to do to get people genuinely excited about it. And if you do make a video, don’t just film your CEO sitting behind a desk spouting out the party line. Use real employees, people who genuinely benefit from the changes you’re implementing, and make it feel relevant.
Once you’re into the thick of the change/project, celebrate wins. It’s all about communicating the positive messages and behaviours and separately addressing more negative grumblings. So if you find an individual or team have really been demonstrating whatever it is you’re looking for - say, sharing their knowledge online - make sure you shout about it.
But you and your team have to stay strong and stay positive, as it will be challenging at times. The only thing which will make it succeed is your tenacious passion and enthusiasm; trust me, it will be infectious.
Finally, make your communication relevant. This is another page we can take out of marketing’s book. There are loads of great resources available online around content marketing and how to run a great campaign, and the principles work in learning too.
For example, if I was trying to encourage more people to self- direct their learning and I know there’s a group of users who are interested in learning about design, I might send them a YouTube series about design and simply say, “Hey, did you know this was here?”
C. Benchmark and measure impact over time
Imagine you’ve ploughed in loads of time and energy into an initiative, you’ve talked to people, you’ve changed your approach and upskilled the team, but then you don’t really have any way of measuring the impact. For me, that would be totally demoralising. Data collection and measuring what we’re doing is all part of being curious and is essential to creating more curiosity in your organisation.
Before you start any project, in particular one that requires a culture change, do some benchmarking. Get some surveys out there to better understand how people currently feel, collect data when you interview, look at existing data sources, like employee engagement, happiness scores, NPS scores, even sales or any other metric you have.
Not doing benchmarking is a bit like not taking a before photo of a house renovation, but still expecting people to be wowed when they see what you’ve done. Think about all the hours scraping wallpaper, pulling up carpets, glossing skirting boards, all for someone to say ‘yeah, it’s nice.’ You put in the work, you should be able to impress people. Equally, you need to be able to monitor and track impact over time (failures and successes) in order to iterate and continuously improve.
I think sometimes people don’t do these things as they’re worried that by using data, they might reveal things they’d rather keep hidden. I understand this. I would hate to work hard on a project only to show it’s made no difference, but at least we can see what went wrong and improve.
This is why it’s also important to track and measure as you go and adapt based on your findings. Maybe you’ve rolled out a campaign and the first touch point was a video. Most people who watched it only watched the first 20 seconds. This is great feedback to allow you adapt.
This is partly why we’ve included a campaigns feature in our LXP, so you can schedule as many campaigns as you like, run them automatically and then track how well they’ve been received. There are lots of tools out there that can help you though and if you’re interested to find out more check out our webinar on this exact subject.