Time for change? Rethink your change management strategy this spring

Sally Bannerman Sally Bannerman Senior Director, Global Project Management

Do you have workforce transformation in your business future?

In my role at KellyOCG, I support workforce solution implementations in organisations of all shapes and sizes. I’ve seen every type of change experience – good, bad, and somewhere in between – and it’s crucial to never underestimate the impact of change management on a business and its people. A solution or technology may be world-leading, but without strong internal change processes and clear communication, even the most anticipated implementation can fail before it’s really begun.

Limited C-suite buy-in. Failure to bring others along on the journey. A one-size-fits-all approach. Poorly thought-out change assets. A limited communications plan. A weak understanding of internal culture. These are all symptoms of poor change management, and to effect meaningful transformation, leaders must build robust change strategies that truly connect with the internal communities they serve.

In this blog, I explore the foundations of impactful change management and the ways organisations can ensure the workforce solutions they invest in will hit the ground running.

It starts at the top

It sounds simple, but it’s something that many organisations – especially those with siloed business structures – overlook. Change starts at the very highest level, and without buy-in and understanding across the C-suite and senior leadership, change can feel disjointed, and it can be much tougher to bring people along for the journey. I have been in a room for a pre-implementation meeting where a senior leader had no idea what the solution we were implementing was or what it did. This lack of communication is a good way to kill momentum and confidence, fast. However, a strong business case for change, along with early involvement from senior leaders and key stakeholder groups (HR, procurement, finance, etc.), can create a sturdy foundation for lasting and positive workforce transformation.

No change journey looks the same

One of the complexities of change management is that every organisation and every project requires a different change journey. This starts with a thorough environmental assessment. Here are some of the key questions I ask before every implementation: What are the key drivers for workforce transformation? What is the current appetite for change? Which stakeholders will be impacted and how? By building a detailed picture of where an organisation is today, where it wants to be, and who will be impacted, leaders can build a change and communications strategy that makes sense for both the wider business and the individuals who will be impacted by transformation.

Communication channels are critical

What are the best ways to communicate change? The answer to this question might vary hugely across different companies and often for different groups inside a single organisation. Consider the way key messages are communicated today – is it through regular town halls, emails, or an internal messaging system? A combination of all three or something completely different? Can you leverage existing platforms to ensure change? Whichever communication channels are harnessed through the change process, it’s important to engage stakeholders as early as possible, explain key drivers for change, and develop a library of accessible assets. It’s also important to actively involve your communications team in the change process and to have a strong understanding of how comms approval processes could shape change messaging.

Know your audience

High-volume stakeholders could be impacted by a new talent technology or workforce solution implementation every single day. Alternatively, there may be users who only interact with a new system twice a year or members of the finance team who simply need to know that invoices will look a little different going forward. Treating all of these groups as one is ineffective and inefficient. For high-volume users, change champions, who actively engage and spread change messaging from very early in the process can act as ambassadors to drive adoption. While those groups who will be impacted in a smaller way by transformation may simply need clear, visible advice and an understanding of how to access extra guidance when and if they need it.

Change doesn’t end with launch

A successful rollout of a new workforce solution or technology is a huge win, and it’s easy to think that change management stops there. But change management is an ongoing and evolving process. It’s important to continually evaluate whether desired and predicted outcomes are being achieved and whether user adoption levels remain high. At KellyOCG, we actively hand over the adoption plan to the operations team – ensuring that change management remains a key element of ongoing programme success.

A well-thought-out change management process isn’t just the best way to roll out transformation – it’s essential to unlocking business benefits. Poor change management adds up to poor user experience, low adoption, and unpredictable workarounds that can cancel out any expected cost and productivity savings – providing a poor return on investment for an organisation. Simply, leaders can’t afford to make change management an afterthought, and those with a strong focus on change strategy are likely to see better results in the short and long term.


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