Even those leaders who try to effect organizational change according to the “book” often ignore the fundamental change management difference in mindset between their view of the business and their employees’ view of the business.
Think about it…employers are looking to increase profits and productivity. They want a steadily improving, predictable and hassle-free level of performance from their workers. Employees, on the other hand, are looking for fair compensation, job security and safety in their workplace. Most employees (especially Millennials) are also looking for some choice in what, how and when they do their jobs. The difference in how employers and employees view the organization and what they want out of it fundamentally affects the way they look at change.
It is critical that you as a leader look at both sides when you first consider organizational change and then before you communicate change to the troops.
Let’s say you are considering an organizational change initiative around your customer service strategy. Instead of pushing your employees toward handling more customer calls per day, you want to focus on the level of customer satisfaction and repeat business. In other words you believe quality and loyalty, not speed and quantity, are what will benefit the organization the most. From the employer’s point of view, you have determined that the new strategy will yield higher customer satisfaction, increased customer loyalty and greater revenues.
Now from the customer service employees’ point of view, this change will most likely rock their world. They will now be held to a different standard and will probably need to undergo more customer service training in how to better listen to the customer, elicit their real needs, learn what solutions are possible and ensure the customer is happy with the outcome of the phone call. This changes their level of security in their job and how they do it.
The way you as the employer communicate the change is critical. The rationale for the change needs to be put forth in a way that shows empathy for the employees who need to adopt new behaviors vis-à-vis their customers. It is important to show how this change will benefit both the organization and the customer service reps. Show how they can find more satisfaction in their role once they learn how to truly satisfy customers rather than just push on to the next phone call as they did before. Ask for the employees’ help in defining new performance standards and best practices. As they feel more involved in the change and its implementation, they will have more commitment to its success.
Show that you care not only about the organization’s bottom line but that you care about your employees’ wellbeing. Include them in your deliberations and encourage them to express their questions and concerns. When you take their perspective into account along with your leadership perspective on securing the company’s future health, you can narrow the gap between how you and your employees look at the world. You and your workforce will be pulling in the same direction with a congruence of goals.
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