A fellow colleague recently needed my help formulating a communication and training plan for a new life sciences client. My colleague’s client had experienced training issues with projects conducted by previous vendors in the past, and brought in our firm to help with formulating and implementing a new strategy. As we were developing our plans, I suggested getting input and feedback from the general employee population. I was told that the client did not want us talking to employees, and that everything would need to be run through a specific manager(s). I have experienced this with management before; sometimes they are hesitant to allow interviews to be conducted with their employees. While this hurdle is sometimes faced, getting feedback and input from all levels of employees is crucial for a successful change initiative.
It is best to conduct preliminary meetings with management and senior leadership to get their position on including employees prior to the start of the initiative. If management is resistant, here are some points you can make to help management better understand the importance of speaking with employees:
- Although management provides excellent information and guidance, there may be issues at the associate level that they are not fully aware of. Talking with the people involved in the day-to-day tasks can provide greater insight into problems, bottlenecks, etc. management may not be aware of.
- Instead of relying solely on management’s input, it is important to get feedback from all levels of the organization to see what works best from various perspectives―especially from the general users.
- Speaking with employees at all levels not only provides important information that will help formulate the change plan, it lets the employees know that their input is valued.
- Getting employee’s feedback is particularly important when it comes to training. Since they will be the main people using the new system or procedures, it is crucial to understand the best ways to provide them with support. Everyone learns differently, therefore getting input on what mediums to use to provide training and support (e.g., live face to face meetings, online webinar meetings, computer-based trainings, job aids and reading materials, company intranet sites, etc.) can help ensure effective communication of new procedures and expectations.
Also read: Change Management: 6 Goals for Effective Employee Engagement
Keep in mind, every company has a different culture and what worked well at one organization may not necessarily work for another. So before planning your next change initiative, make sure your stakeholders know how important it is to talk to several levels of employees, as their feedback is often a driving factor in achieving the organization’s goals.
What roadblocks have you experienced in your change management initiatives? Let us know in the comments section below!