Any time you introduce new technology or processes into your organization, it’s important to approach the changes with care, specifically with attention to organizational change management. What is change management? It is the process of looking at the human side of a project and is especially important when the change is set to happen on a global scale. 

Global change management tools and strategies can help you prepare your workforce for what’s to come. Today, we’re sharing why organizational change management matters, and how to implement it on the global level. 

What is Global Change Management?

At its core, change management is a focus on corporate agility. It’s a set of best practices that can help your company become more flexible and adaptive to change.

Adopting these practices not only improves office morale when, for example, a new ERP system rolls out. It also gives your company a distinct competitive advantage.

When you want to expand into a global market, organizational change capability can make all the difference in the amount of business benefits you realize. 

Any time you conduct process improvement across locations, expand your global reach or bring on an international partner, it disrupts the status quo. Unless you’re prepared to weather those changes, the resulting pushback and change resistance can deter long-term success. 

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5 Tips to Support and Manage Global Change

As you look toward the future and plan for large-scale change, keep in mind that you don’t need to start from scratch. In fact, many companies already have the basics of organizational change management in place. 

You can build off these tenets as you prepare for your global expansion. A few of the key pillars to focus on include:

  • Creating a change management plan
  • Securing executive sponsorship for the change
  • Creating a common, company-specific language around the change
  • Building your employees’ core competencies
  • Incorporating feedback

Let’s take a look at each of these in greater detail.

1. Creating a Change Management Plan

A thorough change management plan can help your company innovate with ease – or at least relative ease compared to innovation not accompanied by a change management plan.

Rather than creating one single plan and expecting it to work globally, we recommend tasking regional leaders with adapting messaging, tactics and communication materials to fit their local culture. This may include making adjustments to the language, training requirements or communication strategies.

While some elements are flexible, others will be consistent across the board. These include the reason behind the change, the expected benefits and key milestones. 

2. Securing Executive Sponsorship

Any transformative project requires executive-level support from the very beginning.

If you’re at the helm of a small company, this buy-in may be relatively easy to acquire. However, what should you do if your offices span multiple continents around the globe? In this case, it’s important to identify regional leaders in each area who can spearhead the change.

For instance, you might have one executive responsible for leading the North American offices, while another focuses on Asia. Rather than working in silos, these executives should have access to a central roadmap that outlines the steps they should follow and the messages they should communicate.

This way, everyone is on the same page, and the change management activities are consistent across the board. Of course, there should also be some amount of flexibility for cultural differences.

While each leader may need to adapt the following questions to fit their audience, here are several questions to guide your change management communication:

  • Why does the change matter?
  • What will this change mean for our organization? 
  • What initiated the change?
  • What will happen to our company if we don’t pursue the change?

3. Creating a Company-Specific Change Language

When approaching a major change, it’s easy to fall into the jargon trap. Corporate-speak is real and can be ostracizing, especially when it’s coming from an office halfway around the world. 

To rally support around the change, find ways to talk about it that will appeal to each individual region. Rather than sticking to generic change management tools and resources, find ways to make them as personalized as possible.

A few ideas include:

  • Translating training materials into regional languages
  • Using culturally appropriate imagery in all change-related materials
  • Incorporating the regional vernacular throughout change resources

4. Building Core Competencies

Most of the time, when employees push back against a change, it’s due to one of the following factors:

  • Fear at the thought of using new technology
  • Hesitancy to let go of existing best practices
  • Confusion over new workflows and processes

End-user training can help address all these concerns. However, a universal training program could fail to inform and motivate all employees. This is why we often recommend that clients hire regional trainers to organically build employees’ competencies and boost their confidence.

These trainers should be responsible for overseeing the training activities in their assigned region. This way, they can make sure the materials align with the culture and processes those employees are used to encountering.

5. Incorporating Feedback

Setting aside time to gather employee feedback is an important part of global change management.

However, keep in mind that culture can influence how employees react to change and communicate their feelings. While some locals might be more comfortable with the ambiguity that accompanies a change, others will be sternly against it. 

Understanding this, it’s important to adjust your feedback sessions to align with cultural norms. Local team leaders and stakeholders can help you navigate these nuances so you can ensure employees’ trust and secure early buy-in.

Find Support for Global Change Management

The prospect of readying your entire organization for a major change might feel overwhelming, but with a global change management strategy in place, you can ensure employee engagement from day one.

The key lies in delegating regional leaders to help adapt change management approaches and tools to meet local needs. This strategy shows compassion and respect to individual employees while also providing them with the tools they need to succeed.

Our change management consultants can support your organization in this journey. Contact us below for a free consultation. 

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