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How do you create a compelling case for change and keep employees engaged when the transformation required has negatively impacted part of the employee base? 

Be sure to share the truth with them! Employees can accept the truth. It is the void of information or the vague and unclear information that causes people to be disengaged, increase their anxiety, or just sit back to wait and see what is going to happen. The approach that causes people to stay engaged during times of change includes three steps:

  1. Explain the “why” behind the change. Respect people’s ability to co-think about what is occurring and to understand the forces that are driving the change. Understanding the big picture and context for the change helps people process the fact that the world is changing around us, and that it is not code language for “you are no longer valuable to us,” which is often a great fear.
  2. Be honest and truthful as soon as you can. People have tremendous resilience to handle the truth, and an equally powerful lack of tolerance for receiving half-truths of politically motivated comments.
  3. The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality – which includes an honest portrayal of the bad news, and the second responsibility is to create hope for the future. In the light of the difficult and negative news of change, be sure to build clarity and confidence around the fact that we have control over our future and we will make the changes to create a compelling future.

 

As a leader in the business, I’ve struggled with how to get a leadership team on board with where the business needs to go. It’s a dramatic shift compared to what we’ve done in the past, and it has been a struggle to get them to buy into it. Any advice?

Leaders and leadership teams have many of the same emotional reactions to change as others in an organization. People don’t resist change; they resist being changed by someone else. High-performing leadership teams need to step into the conflict of not changing, as well as the adversity and benefits associated with changing. Getting a leadership team on board with where a business needs to go requires the team to truly think together; listen to one another and respect each other’s expertise; make fact-based decisions together; and agree on the ramifications and implications of these decisions on their own personal behaviors.

The struggle to change can be converted into a catalyst for change when leaders reach a shared honest assessment of the current realities of the business and a clear picture of where we want to go that is compelling to the team. The onboarding of any leadership team can turn into advocacy for where the business needs to go when dialogue replaces presentation and when there is equal sense of leadership vulnerability around the fact the each member will have to make changes in their personal behaviors.

 

We’ve tried to implement several customer strategies over the last couple of years. We’ll see some incremental change, but we haven’t seen our customer satisfaction scores go up dramatically. We feel like we’ve communicated extensively with our front line about what we need them to do, and they say they understand. Yet we can’t seem to see a really big shift.

How did you “communicate” with them? Was it one-way communication? Or was it through their manager telling them what to do? Does your front line really understand the why, what, and how of your customer service strategy; the role they play in bringing it to life; and what it means for them and your customers? You mentioned you have tried to implement several customer strategies over the years with only incremental change. You might consider: was it the strategies that were flawed, or how you strategically engaged your people in them?

Our experience tells us the best way for your front line to positively impact your customer satisfaction scores is through delivering an authentic customer experience. This happens when leaders demonstrate a customer-first culture through their everyday actions and behaviors and your managers act like owners and engage their front line effectively.


Get your questions answered!

Get the answers to your business strategy execution questions from the experts at Root Inc. Submit your questions on the hard-to-solve issues your business is trying to tackle from customer experience and manager development, to strategy deployment and sustainment. Email us your questions and look for the answer in the March/April 2014 issue.