As companies become more globally interconnected, the reach and impact of their operations have scaled up to become global, as well. As a result, organizational change management projects are often no longer limited to just one region, but instead span multiple global offices.
While large-scale change management projects are fantastic opportunities to lead high-impact ventures and shift focus at a strategic level, they can prove challenging. Some issues unique to global projects include:
- Managing local culture and language differences
- Securing high-level sponsors to champion the change
- Building a common methodology
- Training local experts to build up core competencies
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Tips for Global Change Initiatives
1. Designate Regional Leaders to Champion Change
When a company operates on a global scale, it’s essential to find leaders in each region who can sponsor and champion change for their respective regions.
This is important because a change champion who isn’t accustomed to a region may fail to capture important messaging. There could also be unforeseen cultural challenges, such as the emphasis on age within Korean and Japanese cultures. Sending a very young manager to communicate and affect change with executives twice his age can prove ineffective.
If your project team has a regional leader helping your project team communicate important messages, it can greatly streamline change management communication. For example, the regional leader may help translate messaging and adapt it to their culture, which not only increases employees’ awareness of the change but their support of it, as well.
While it’s true that a local champion can help share information more effectively, it raises another issue. How do you ensure all region leaders are on the same page? We recommend establishing organizational alignment. This means the company has agreed on a strategic direction, and the project team is ensuring all project decisions at a region level support the company’s goals.
2. Build a Centralized Roadmap
A sponsorship roadmap can bring together all your regional sponsors, so they communicate cohesive, consistent messages to their companies. This roadmap is used to outline stakeholders the sponsor needs to meet with, events the sponsor needs to attend and deadlines that must be met.
While this is a centralized document, sponsors can adapt messaging in a way that is best suited for their location. When culturally adapting messages, some of the most important messaging that must stay intact includes:
- Why the change is occurring
- The implications for the company and particular location
- How progress is going to be enforced
- A sense of urgency
- What happens if change management is not pursued now
3. Establish a Common Methodology
It’s important for each region to see change management resources and tools as built for their benefit rather than a hand-me-down from another hemisphere. However, it may not be feasible to convert all documentation from one language to multiple other languages and mediums.
A regional sponsor likely doesn’t have enough time to sit down and translate hundreds or thousands of pages of documentation and training materials. This can become expensive very quickly, especially if each region has unique business jargon they employ.
This is why it’s important to establish a common change management methodology and terminology that’s shared among all regions. Sponsors will find change management resources more beneficial if their region already has a baseline understanding of the change management methodology.
4. Encourage Knowledge Sharing
For global companies that operate with tens of thousands of employees, a regional leader may not be enough to affect change at a local level. Getting more regional leaders on board is not always a feasible solution, either, since regional champions need specialized training.
Instead, we recommend relying on regional trainers to build up core competencies at all levels. Having a local resource who can educate employees equips the local workforce with the tools and knowledge to more efficiently implement large-scale organizational change.
Successful Change Management at a Global Scale
It’s clear that global projects involve a group of stakeholders comprised of multiple cultures and languages. Sharing information with these stakeholders involves far more effort than simply translating it via Google Translate.
Panorama’s business transformation consultants can help your company account for all of the regional variances you’ll encounter during a global ERP implementation or change management initiative. Contact us to discuss your global organizational needs – we’re here to help!