No matter our career level or industry, change touches all of us. Change is powerful, yet how we respond is up to us.
My career has evolved over many years from boots-on-the-ground tactical positions to president of a private company, and now, as COO of Kforce, I champion operational excellence and guide our people through change. Along the way, I’ve learned a few key principles that have empowered me and my employees to thrive.
Embrace positivity. When it comes to change, there will be naysayers, and it can be tempting to focus your efforts there. After all, you want them to get on board, and as a leader it can be quite frustrating if that doesn’t happen quickly and with enthusiasm.
However, it’s important not to let this group prevent you from moving forward. Remember, detractors are not the majority of your employees. Instead, focus 80% of your energy on those who “get it,” and encourage them to become ambassadors to get those who are neutral on board. Naysayers, meanwhile, can make their decision to get on board eventually or not.
Communicate strategically. Clear communication during change may seem like a no-brainer. However, nearly 70% of change initiatives fail, resulting in financial loss and employee cynicism. Thus, strategic communication tactics are paramount to change management.
Generate buzz with any initiative using a land, air and sea approach:
- Have a clear, visual message that fits on one page. The more succinct, the better.
- Display that message in every office and at every desk. There’s value to the visual.
- Communicate the message yourself — and reiterate it every time you address the team.
Techniques such as these can raise positive sentiment toward your initiatives. The more ambassadors you have for your program, the more successful it will be.
Embrace technology. Luckily, those ambassadors can now share new service opportunities and branding seamlessly to your customers, who are more accessible than ever via social media.
During times of change, it’s important for employees to share your story. By empowering your sales teams to connect with their networks, your brand can exponentially expand its digital footprint.
Employees have 10 times the connections that your company has, and salespeople who regularly share content are 45% more likely to exceed quota.
Your content will not only get more exposure, but it will also perform better.
Content shared by employees generates twice as much engagement versus when shared by a company. Despite the many benefits, your people may not have time to create content themselves, and that’s where an employee advocacy program comes in. By providing suggested content for employees to share, you keep the message consistent when managing change to your customers.
Embrace relationships. While this shift in behavior around technology has had a positive impact in many ways, it can also hinder the relationship-building process by allowing individuals to hide behind the technology. And if we lose our personal touch, we do a disservice to our teams and the customer.
Delegation is important to pull yourself out of the details, especially during a time of change. Empower your employees to feel supported when making decisions. This will free up your bandwidth, so you can focus more on the strategic vision and get “out of the weeds.” On my team, we win together and lose together. Innovation and idea sharing are necessities.
To drive change within your organization, it’s critical to operate and grow together. Overall, developing trust and mutual accountability with your teams will lead to an environment where change is embraced, rather than feared.