You might think you’re explaining something well, but how effectively are you really reaching employees? 

According to one survey, 91% of employees say their leaders lack strong communication skills. Strong communicators are clear and convincing, able to persuade their workforce to adopt organizational changes.

What does this look like in an ERP system implementation? Communication about an ERP project must resonate with employees. In other words, your messaging should provide a compelling case for how employees’ lives will improve by adopting the change.

A common acronym for this approach is WIIFM (What’s in it for Me?). Employing WIIFM in change management can position change in a way that feels personal to each employee.

This personalized approach has been a key success factor in many of our clients’ software projects because it maximizes system adoption. 

Navigating Change with Rick & Christi

Watch these short and sweet videos to learn about change management from the experts! The series features Rick Platz and Christi Trinder from Panorama’s change management team.

The Factors Behind Change Resistance

Any time you implement a change at your company, you can expect some degree of resistance. This is because humans gravitate toward the familiar. 

In fact, the human brain registers uncertainty in the same way it registers danger: It goes into overdrive trying to rectify the situation and keep you safe.

For this reason, major organizational change can be a challenge to lead. Project leaders are tasked with convincing thousands of employees that new processes and technology are something to embrace instead of something to fear.

Throughout this effort, leaders often provide high-level projections and explanations that feel anything but personal. This gives rise to confusion, resentment, and ultimately, resistance.

What is a project manager to do? By ensuring your organizational change management team takes a WIIFM approach, you can enable them to shift employees’ sentiments. This is possible because WIIFM breaks down an overwhelming change into relatable, individualized components. 

WIIFM Change Management in Action

Managing change requires more than lip service. It isn’t enough to simply tell people that a change will be good for them. Your employees are smarter than that. 

We recommend customizing your change explanation, so it makes sense for each person. This might mean describing software features based on that employee’s role within your organization, or it might mean highlighting the ways that the software will make their particular job role easier. 

If you can do this at each level of your business, it becomes much easier for employees to embrace change. 

Understanding Personal Drivers

So, how can you inform each employee about what’s in it for them? To start, you need to understand their individual drivers or motivators. 

Begin with the positive ones. What motivates them professionally, and what do they seem to enjoy doing at work? Are there any tasks that they naturally excel at and seem to fit fully within their wheelhouse? 

Then, move to the negative drivers. What jobs or activities does this person avoid at all costs? Even undesirable tasks can be motivators if an employee is especially compelled to avoid them. 

Of course, this analysis is much easier if your organization is small. You can give plenty of thought to the drivers that motivate each employee in each department by individually asking them for their perspective and feedback.

This becomes more challenging the more your enterprise grows. Still, it’s a good idea to identify several key staff members and seek to understand their unique perspectives.

Key motivators for C-suite executives will be different from departmental managers and employees on the front line, so it’s important to get a comprehensive view. 

Understanding Change Motivators

You can use a variety of mechanisms to understand employee motivators, from focus groups and surveys to one-on-one conversations. The key is to understand the potential loss that they think they might experience and find motivators for the change that are twice as powerful. 

You can use the feedback you receive to shape and direct your ERP change management plan and communication plan.

What if You Can’t Answer WIIFM?

Most of the time, change is akin to innovation and progress. While it might be uncomfortable for some at first, it helps teams eliminate clunky workflows and tap into undiscovered talents and abilities. 

In other cases, however, change happens because it’s inevitable. For instance, a company might implement a new ERP system that can’t fully operate unless old processes are overthrown. 

When this happens, stakeholders have a harder time understanding what’s in it for them, and change agents can’t exactly communicate the benefits, either.

Though the change might benefit the company as a whole, it slows down and frustrates employees on a personal level. Employees don’t care that the project will help their organization reach new heights or recognize significant cost savings. Their worlds have been turned upside down, and they’re rightfully upset. 

When personal benefits are limited, there are a few different approaches you can take. These include:

  • Connecting the change to a higher-level, customer-focused outcome (e.g. “This ERP solution will help us reduce waste and lower our carbon footprint,” or “This SCM system will help us improve delivery times.”)
  • Make the change personal by sharing a personal anecdote
  • Keep the dialogue open and honest, acknowledging the stressful situation but requesting support
  • Engage employees as testers, SMEs, and team leaders so they feel more connected to the project 

It might take some time, but most employees will find some type of benefit to derive from the change as time goes by and initial reactions subside. 

Make the Change Relatable

In your quest to garner support and enthusiasm around a change, it’s easy to wax poetic about a solution’s features. Yet, that information alone is insufficient to sway all your employees, especially the ones who are on the fence. 

WIIFM change management takes a more personalized approach and makes the change relatable. By highlighting relevant benefits, you can help employees move past feelings of fear and frustration. 

Our team of change management consultants can help you develop a communication strategy that ensures maximum system usage. Contract us below for a free consultation.

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