In the past year, employees worldwide have, on average, experienced three major changes at work, compared to just 1.75 changes three years ago. 87% of executives in a recent survey expect change initiatives to remain constant or increase over the next three years. And those same executives have a dismal view of the success of change: they say that only one-third of change efforts are clear successes – and half are clear failures.
Probably not shocking data, right? I can imagine a lot of head-nodding in response. And a question – how can we, in the face of constant change, help our organizations land on the good side of that third data point – how can we help make sure that our change efforts are successful?
The answer may be different than you’d imagine. Most communication to employees in times of change is aimed at getting employees to buy-in to change – to avoid skepticism and cynicism, to get them more committed to change, to increase their effort at work.
Unfortunately, this approach falls short of sustaining employee performance through change, as it fails to acknowledge the way that changes destroy employees’ core capability at work. After a change, what they need to do and how they need to work has changed – but they may not be aware of their new priorities or have the information, skills, or organizational connections needed to adapt.
Building employee commitment to change is not enough – employees must also have access to the organizational resources needed to re-build their capability after change.
Both Communications and its functional partners have important roles to play in increasing employee capability – in creating the raw materials (i.e. skills training, role expectations), in publicizing and sharing them, and in connecting employees to each other.
CEB’s newly-released Executive Guidance – Boosting Corporate Performance During Change Initiatives – can help. Based on CEB Communications’ most recent research into communication tactics that sustain performance through change, this material, written for an executive audience, is ideal for sharing with business partners across the organization.