When employees fail to understand the necessity or utility of a business change, that change is typically met with hostility. The change curve is steep and disruptive, which acts as a speed bump to project ROI. And with 70% of projects failing as a result of employee engagement (or lack thereof), this dissonance between project and people is a challenge as common as it is costly.
Navigating the ‘people’ side of change, then, is the key to embedding change successfully. To help us unpack how best to do so, we enlisted the expertise of Nicola Graham. Nicola is an internationally recognised business change consultant, the Managing Director and Co-founder of Simplify Change, and the author of newly released book Build, Excite, Equip. (The title of which forms an acronym for Nicola’s change methodology: the BEE Methodology.)
In our latest Deltra webinar session, Nicola unpacks this BEE Methodology, how to apply it, and how to implement smooth, successful change that sticks.
We work in an era of continual digital disruption. Faced with the onslaught of transformation, resistance is an all-too-common reaction to business change.
On one end of the scale are employees beset with changes that – to their eyes – fetter the flow of their day-to-day work. They have new apps to use, new processes to adopt, new tools and technologies and team communication protocols to master. They’re expected to drop the systems with which they’re comfortable and switch to the new way of working. All the while, the next rollout is pending; the next ‘go live’ date on the horizon.
The result is that to the unengaged employee, change can feel less a welcome breath of fresh air, and more a gale to be contended against.
On the other end of the scale, meanwhile, are the project managers trying to deliver these changes. They’re striving to deploy projects at pace, and in an agile way. They have comms to plan, deliverables to meet, a launch to execute. Yet in their efforts to keep all these plates spinning, they often forget one crucial component: people. Namely, engaging the people, winning their buy-in through involvement, and taking them through the change journey.
Here, then, the result is a project team that finds their social popularity within the business ever-diminished, fighting against a depleted willingness to adopt change.
As well as a frustrated business, this gap between the employee and the project hurts ROI. The new technology or process is only partially adopted. At best, this means that project payoffs are reduced. At worst, it sees the business paying for multiple different systems – the old still in play while the new struggles for acceptance – as part of an increasingly tangled tech stack. Either way, the project fails to deliver the promised ROI.
In consequence of this performance failure, businesses often find themselves parachuting in a change manager. Already facing disgruntled employees who don’t wish to be bothered, this change manager must then solve the employee engagement problem and deliver the project’s delayed ROI.
If this process sounds unnecessarily clunky and expensive, it’s because it is. Change management must be simplified with a structured approach that considers employee adoption throughout the entire process – rather than as an afterthought.
And in answer to this need for simplified change management is the BEE Methodology.
The BEE Methodology offers a simple yet comprehensive change management approach that makes change feel engaging. In the process, it maximises employee adoption and even advocacy, for change that lasts.
The BEE Methodology doesn’t require you to reinvent the wheel or use a plethora of new resources. Rather, it comprises three steps designed to be easily overlaid onto a project framework. Importantly, each step requires only minimal upskilling of your existing project teams to take on simple change activities.
BEE is an acronym for a three-step approach:
The ‘Build’ phase lays the proper foundation for your project. It’s where you prepare and plan – taking the time to understand your business, your people, and your current ways of working. So, rather than starting by telling, you start by listening.
You’ll first need information on the organisation, via surveys, analytics, assessments and so on. But you’ll also need to get to know your people. For example, who are your key stakeholders? Which of them are disinterested, and need extra socialising? Who are your champions and influencers – the people who will help you push and scale the change? As well as the people you might expect from a hierarchical perspective, influencers can include non-management employees with good standing and reach inside the company.
Only with this information at hand should you start to plan out your project – but that doesn’t mean the end of employee inclusion. You should still consider your people at every turn. This includes, for example, factoring in employee calendars, engagement levels and training needs before setting a ‘go live’ date.
With your foundations prepared, you can then rally the troops via an ‘Excite’ phase. Here, you create a marketing campaign around the project, intriguing and informing staff about the possibilities of the new change.
This goes beyond publishing an intranet post and firing out a few emails (indeed, only 2% of people read an email from a project team.) Rather than leaning on one medium, you need to deploy an encompassing mix of tools, channels, and materials. For example, use videos, GIFs, posters, company events, presentations, live demos, your network of champions and influencers – everything at your disposal.
But as well as this variety and volume, consistency is key. Your branding and messaging must be recognisable and consistent throughout. As marketers know, it generally takes 5-7 impressions to make something stick. So, it’s important to brand your project – a logo, a name, consistent key messages and graphics – to give employees something familiar to associate with.
Even with all these diverse efforts, the true key to winning change buy-in is to emphasise the benefits of the project to the employee. How does it make their working life better? What’s in it for them? How does it ease their tasks?
When you involve, engage, and onboard people early, they’re then both ready and excited to use the change on the go-live.
At this point, you’ve laid your plans with careful consideration and ongoing employee engagement. You’ve consistently informed, educated, and intrigued people about the change. The last step, then, is to equip people to adopt that change and take ownership of their own success. To do so, you must support and encourage their learning.
A scalable coaching approach should educate your change players on how to adapt, use new systems, and access support. Again, this doesn’t mean falling back to traditional (and usually ineffective) mediums. So, a trainer standing at the front of a meeting room offering an optional training session isn’t going to cut it.
To use education as an effective tool for positive change experiences, you should deploy a mix of flexible learning options. For example, offer training videos, guides, 1-2-1 sessions, interactive knowledge tests, and so on. Make these resources accessible, diverse, and bite-sized – so the employee can learn in the way convenient to them.
As before, people – not even our most cutting-edge project support tools – are the true key to change success. Lean on those people. This means engaging employees to get involved, lead by example, and spread the news. You might, for instance, conduct interviews or podcasts with colleagues asking them to chat about the new system and how it has helped them personally. Remember that people will always want to hear more from the friends in their team than from project managers or trainers.
Ultimately, your goal is to reinforce the change through learning and through the celebration of success. Once the go-live date has passed, these efforts help to keep the energy of the change project flowing – and will make that change stick.
Change – done well – should not feel like a burden to beleaguered employees. It should feel simple, non-invasive, and even exciting. But to kindle that excitement, you need to engage people and put them at the heart of the change project. What better way to do so than by implementing the BEE Methodology?
The attendees of this webinar session found enormous value in discussing the BEE Methodology with Nicola. They take away actionable insights on how to apply the methodology to flatten the change curve and ramp up their change agility.
If you too would like to benefit from the insights shared in our business transformation and change webinars, sign up to attend future sessions on our Networking Events page.
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