Employee involvement is a key contributing factor for successful change. Employees impacted by change often say that they that they have no control over the changes happening to them. When people have no ability to influence a change, the likelihood that they will resist that change increases significantly. By getting employees actively involved in a change that impacts them directly, you will provide them with an increased sense of control, build their commitment to the change and reduce the amount of resistance that is likely to occur.
Here are five quick tips for involving employees in change:
1. Ensure the involvement is appropriate
Involving front-line employees in identifying the changes necessary to improve customer satisfaction levels makes sense. Involving the same employees in identifying changes to corporate strategy does not. It’s important to involve employees on issues that fall within their sphere of understanding, expertise and influence.
2. Make sure the involvement is meaningful
Be sure to involve employees when you are making changes that are important to them and the work they do. For example, deciding on where vending machines will be located in a new work space isn’t as important to employees as providing input on the floor plan for the work space. Also ensure that the involvement occurs early in the change process, before outcomes have been determined. Seeking employee input on changes that have already been decided is dishonest and creates a lack of trust.
3. Clearly define the scope and any constraints
Clearly define and communicate what aspects of a change are open to discussion and what is not. You should also communicate any constraints that the employees must respect in developing recommendations. Providing this guidance up front helps set realistic expectations and reduces the possibility that employees will present recommendations that can’t be implemented.
4. Involve the right people at the right time
Don’t fall into the trap of involving only employees who have expressed support for a proposed change. Involve employees that have a range of perspectives on the change, i.e. opposed, neutral or supportive. Ensure that the employees you involve have credibility and influence with their peers. Also provide a capable leader or facilitator who can support employees through the involvement process.
5. Be committed to the recommendations employees develop
If you involve employees in a change initiative, you need to be committed to implementing recommendations they develop that are in-scope and satisfy the constraints. If you choose not to implement their recommendations, you will be worse off than if you didn’t involve anyone at all.
Contact me if you would like to discuss how to involve employees in change or learn more about managing change in your organization.