As humans we tend to get stuck in our ways and for many, the importance of change can be a hard concept to grasp. According to a Gartner study, 73 percent of change-affected employees report experiencing moderate to high-stress levels, and those suffering from change-related stress perform 5 percent worse than the average employee. Driving change in business is often necessary to stay competitive but the impact on employees can seem overwhelming at times, if not untenable. So, what are leaders doing to strike a balance that helps the business and its employees flourish?
Organizational Change Management (OCM) is a discipline that is intended to effectively manage business change with minimal disruptions. The focus depends on the successful alignment of people, process and technology. The following is a breakdown of the critical components of a successful OCM effort:
Establish an Initial Connection
Before pushing out new initiatives, it’s important to identify and define the scope and nature of change. It’s essential to ask the question “what is changing and how is it beneficial to everyone?” It is advised to have a well-articulated message about “why” changes are occurring. Put it into a context that people can relate to. While it may be tempting to state intentions in terms of company goals (for example, faster revenue growth or operational efficiency), it may be better to state your purpose in a way that helps people understand how change is helpful for them, not just the company.
Once you establish the purpose and tone of the message, you’ll need to build a strategy on the delivery of the message. Personal messaging can be effective when it comes from someone that people know and trust. It also helps to reinforce messaging with written and visual communications that support the delivery. Train the stakeholders and help them refine their key message but encourage them to deliver it in their voice. At Werner, we began our digital transformation by holding a workshop with leadership and brought in a variety of associates from around the nation that have a passion for innovation and driving an engaging culture in the workplace. We trained them on our strategies and how to be a voice for change.
Build Collaborative Networks
Next, evaluate the current state of your team’s attitude and awareness toward the company’s objectives. This can be done through surveys or interviewing focus groups. Very often this can be a humbling experience for managers as some critical gaps may emerge during this process. These findings can be an effective guide to narrow down focus for the OCM initiatives.
As a next step, mobilize the organization’s greatest asset, its people. For companies with cutting-edge technology and a vast network of offices throughout the nation, it’s important to have a group of associates that not only effectively communicate change but are knowledgeable about the new processes. Establishing a group of change ambassadors is an important step in OCM.
At Werner, we established a group of “change champions” so our regional offices can be in the loop just as much as anyone who works at corporate headquarters. Change Champions at Werner Logistics learn the new process and technology and make sure that their office or team is well-informed. Associates can go to the Change Champions if they have a question or concern about the change that is taking place. Also, Change Champions help drive culture initiatives in the organization. The most important goal for this network is to ensure that the communications become multi-directional. This means that your Change Agents are the voice for the company and the people.
When new technology applications, processes or announcements are rolled out, it is also important to know how that is going to be communicated to train associates. The obvious answers are signage, emails, and memos. These methods have an impactful role. However, no one wants to receive numerous emails every time something changes, and this method may not necessarily align with making people feel valued.
Be creative with communication strategies and get associates involved so they are a part of achieving the desired results. For example, at Werner Logistics we are currently rolling out a new platform to our sales representatives. To create awareness and excitement, we established an internal podcast, where associates can learn from stakeholders or Change Champions about “what’s in it for them” with this new platform. Another useful approach is the “water-cooler talk.” It’s amazing how news can spread in a company when people are excited to share it. Take advantage of the informal information networks and conversations adding some well-placed information as part of a casual conversation.
Communication doesn’t have to be challenging if you work for a larger company. Cross-functionality not only enhances the culture of the organization but can also improve business operations. We’ve established cross-functional teams among various divisions and office locations within Werner Logistics. Associates can communicate with their teams by using collaboration tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams. This has been a great way to get to know associates, communicate new system enhancements, discuss business and participate in fun cultural activities.
Measuring Success of the Change Initiative
After the initiative has been rolled out and communicated thoroughly, measure the adoption rate, continue to identify issues and observations and reflect on lessons learned. With our Logistics Transformation, we have hit numerous milestones and couldn’t have done that without the feedback of our talented associates.
“As a satellite office, the organizational change management process has been tremendous in helping us stay connected with team members from all of the Werner Logistics offices,” said Toronto’s Carrier Sales Manager Donna P. “We have built more collaborative relationships with other associates, which has led to a better understanding of their customers and can create more dynamic solutions. It’s been awesome to see how far we have come, and I am excited to see where it will take us.”
Ultimately, Supply Chain Logistics is a rapidly changing industry and it is important to pick a partner that understands the change and embraces it. For more information, visit WernerLogistics.com.