The long-term success of your organization hinges on its ability to adapt and grow. Only by keeping pace with the competition, customer demands and marketplace changes can you solidify your industry presence. Instead of staying stagnant, you must know when to let go of familiar processes so you can standardize, reengineer and innovate.
While business process improvement is challenging in and of itself, transitioning your workforce to adopt new processes is perhaps more so. That said, it’s imperative to acknowledge and anticipate the impact of process change on employees.
Today, we’re shedding light on how new processes can affect employees and how you can help them navigate, accept and embrace the changes.
Change Management Case Study
The client recognized their need for more comprehensive change management, so they asked us to fill in the gaps. We developed a robust communication plan to supplement the vendor’s communication approach.
How do Employees Typically Respond to Process Changes?
Business process reengineering can revolutionize your company for the better. However, in the early stages of process change, it’s easy to overestimate your employees’ level of buy-in.
Instead of appreciating the benefits of innovation, it’s common for employees to view change negatively and do everything they can to resist it. This is because they often feel inept at using new ERP software or frustrated at the idea of learning new processes. This can lead to change-related stress, which can eventually affect employee performance.
According to one study, workers experiencing a recent change were more than two times as likely to report feeling chronic stress than those who had no current or anticipated changes on the horizon. They were also four times as likely to experience physical stress symptoms while at work. The study also found that these employees felt:
- Less job satisfaction
- Distrust toward their employer
- The desire to seek other employment
Is all of this to say that organizations should forgo change to keep their employees satisfied and engaged? Not in the least. Rather, it underlines the importance of effective organizational change management.
How to Transition Employees to New Business Processes
With the right change management approach, you can empower your employees to adopt new processes. The key is to understand the impact of change at an individual level.
Our comprehensive change management guide, What is Change Management?, goes into more detail on this subject, but let’s discuss the highlights:
1. Create a Change Management Plan
We recommend creating a change management plan early in your process improvement initiative. Components of a change management plan include but are not limited to:
- Organizational assessments
- A communication plan
- A sponsorship roadmap
- A resistance management plan
- A training plan
Organizational assessments can help your team gauge if your company has the resources and buy-in necessary to support the project. These assessments can also help you understand how employees may respond to change and determine ways you can structure your approach to mitigate change resistance.
2. Ensure Frequent Employee Communication
Few things foster uncertainty and distrust quicker than shrouding your project in an air of mystery. That’s why it’s important to communicate with employees as soon as possible, delivering the message over a variety of mediums.
When communicating with employees, be sure to explain the project goals, highlighting “what’s in it for them,” and let them know what they can expect in the weeks and months to come.
In addition to explaining how the process changes will affect their job-related tasks, you should also explain how the changes align with the organizational culture and goals. In other words, clearly explain the inherent value of the changes, rather than assuming they’ll decipher it on their own.
A change management communication plan can help you outline your strategy and approach. Ultimately, you want to explain the What, When, Why and How of the project in a way that makes all stakeholders feel comfortable with the process improvements.
3. Customize Employee Training
Attempting to hold a one-size-fits-all training session can leave your employees even more confused than before. Organizational changes affect each department differently, so a customized approach is often needed to ensure everyone is up to speed.
We recommend developing training materials based on your specific process changes. If your project involves significant process improvement, it’s also important to conduct refresher training at key intervals.
Ultimately, you should be patient with your employees as they figure out the reins. Be transparent about the project roadmap and assure them that they have time to familiarize themselves. This can help reduce stress and ensure a more favorable response.
4. Solicit (and Listen to) Feedback
Throughout the change management process, you need to know how your employees feel. While the word “survey” can be off-putting, it can be effective for soliciting feedback. It’s also worth taking the time to individually meet with employees to gather critical feedback.
In addition to learning their pain points and soliciting their opinions, take the time to actually listen and respond to the feedback. This is important before, during and after implementation.
5. Focus on Adoption After Go-live
Change management doesn’t end once new processes are live. When you cross the veritable finish line of this journey, it’s even more essential to keep a close eye on how your employees are handling the change.
Be sure to monitor initial user adoption rates and notice if they change over time, especially post-implementation. This is often the time when adoption issues become most apparent.
In addition, we recommend setting key performance indicators (KPIs) to track process adoption and system usage as well as identify any high-risk areas.
Understanding the Impact of Process Change
Implementing new business processes can be an exciting time for any company. Yet, in the hustle and bustle of getting the project off the ground, remember to consider how your employees might feel and how this might influence the quality of their work.
The impact of process change can be tremendous, especially if it radically alters the way employees are accustomed to performing their jobs. That’s why it’s impossible to overstate the importance of change management.
To maximize the benefits of your process improvement initiative, contact our change management consultants below.