According to management consultants McKinsey and Company, up to 70% of large-scale change programs undertaken by businesses fail to reach their goals.
There are numerous reasons why these organizations have struggled to achieve what they set out to do – a lack of engagement from employees, poor management support, an inability to create cross-functional collaboration, limited accountability for implementation to name a few. But they all boil down to the same issue. People.
Engaging people in any project, especially where change is involved, is crucial. Here are five ways an organization can raise the support and participation of their teams in a business-critical project:
1. Focus on your people
There are those team members within your organization who are always approached to join new initiatives. While these selections are made for good reason, it often results in overstretched individuals who become increasingly time-poor, juggling multiple responsibilities and roles.
Instead, when selecting champions for your program, look for people who already have influence. They’ll usually be natural communicators and instinctively know how to sell the benefits of the project to others. Teams are more likely to be interested in supporting change when they’re able to see what’s in it for them.
Make sure you invest time in these people too, inspiring and engaging them to become tenacious, passionate advocates who feel equipped and empowered to take the lead in process improvement. When you breed confidence in your business teams, others are more inclined to follow when they can clearly see what needs to be done, why, and how.
When good people take the lead, the teams involved are encouraged to take a positive outlook. Rather than seeing change as something happening to them, help your champions reframe change as something positively impacting their customer service, careers, productivity, and the overall company.
By maintaining regular and meaningful communication with your people, using attention-catching media, and clear messaging they can relate to, you’ll draw them into the plan as partners.
2. Relax your grip
It’s one thing to appoint people to run with a program, it’s another to trust them to do it. Start by ensuring they have the tools and the knowledge they need to succeed.
Investing in a versatile and user-friendly process management platform is essential for any continuous improvement or change management project.
Your employees then need to have the skills to utilize that platform. Not everyone operates at the same skill level, so it’s vital that you assess how confident they are with using the tools available. Well-trained and equipped teams are much more motivated to invest in projects than those who feel underprepared.
There may be some who have limited exposure to technological tools, and they’ll need a different level of support than those who are digitally confident. Consider upskilling them with weekly group training sessions, user-oriented video guides, and mentoring.
The more technologically comfortable teams will appreciate having more space to explore and experiment with the tools you provide. They’ll benefit more from monthly refresher courses and e-learning tools that let them learn at their own pace. It’s from this group that you can draw enthusiastic individuals for certified training, endorsing them to pass their knowledge on to others.
Seek feedback from the teams that are using these tools from day one. As people feel included in the process, they’ll feel more invested in the outcomes. Bring them into defining critical goals and performance indicators before you launch the project. Encourage them to build their own feedback loops within teams too, capturing processes and getting improvement suggestions from the front-line staff who use them. All of this builds a sense of ownership amongst process owners and users, which maintains momentum for improvement projects.
3. Excite and engage
The momentum that team engagement offers comes from excitement. Active engagement doesn’t usually flow from dull memos and strategic plans. It comes from people realizing the day-to-day benefits they’ll experience through better process management. Make sure you capture that when you launch the initiative to ignite their enthusiasm.
Then maintain momentum with great support. When people show an interest in being actively involved, even if they don’t presently feel capable, offer upskilling and opportunities to contribute. Foster their interest with training and tools that make it easier for them to be part of the solution.
It needs to be clear that continuous improvement is a priority for the organization. Demonstrate this commitment by giving teams the time and resources they need to explore and master the process platform. Encourage those who already know their way around to be available to others, to answer questions, provide tips, and inspire others to get involved.
These efforts will provide a velocity you can maintain by calling out wins and achievements as they happen. Senior executives will appreciate hearing about the results of everyone’s efforts, and teams take encouragement from seeing progress being achieved and people like them being recognized for it.
4. Lower the entry bar
Oftentimes, people don’t engage because they don’t know-how. Eliminate those kinds of hurdles by solving technical complaints and problems upfront. People will utilize process management tools more often when they’re easy to access and intuitive to use.
Some of the ways you can make the information more accessible include:
- Provide teams with devices to make access easy. That includes remote teams or employees, so everyone has the same opportunity to interact with the platform.
- Link the platform to existing portals or intranet systems, reducing the burden of signing on and the need for remembering more credentials.
- Set aside time for onboarding, giving teams the resources they need to get familiar with the system and to begin using it with processes they know well
5. Teams win together
Collaboration is the core of the most successful process improvement and change management programs. Involve the entire organization in capturing, reviewing, and improving your processes. Challenge teams to revisit what they do on a day-to-day basis with fresh eyes, and constantly look for better ways to meet your customers’ needs.
Empower your champions to take that feedback seriously, too. It’s vital that everyone feels heard or those wells of feedback will dry up. Follow up on suggestions and new ideas quickly. This adds value to the feedback and promotes agile thinking. Involve people in setting targets, evaluating progress against them, and striving for their goals.
People are motivated by appreciation, so be sure to share good outcomes with the wider organization. That could be in public forums, team meetings, announcements on the intranet, or through tools like leaderboards and reward programs.
It all comes down to people
People are your top priority for any change management project. They’ll make or break any process improvement initiative, so build momentum through positive engagement. You’ll develop a culture of continuous improvement that will propel your business towards your goals, and bring your people along with you.