Lead Your People Through Company Changes like a Pro With the People Activation Model

Posted in Best Practice Research Thoughts & Culture

“The only constant in life is change.” 

 

...but boy do we hate it.

 

Change is scary because it’s different, and it pushes us outside of our comfort zone. We can’t rely on what we used to know, and we have to start all over again. 

 

We’re afraid we’re going to fail.

 

...and this fear is only amplified when our job (...our very livelihood) is at stake.

 

In fact, the American Psychological Association (APA) found that employees going through workplace changes are 2x more likely to experience chronic stress and 4x more likely to exhibit physical health symptoms than those who aren’t!

 

Yep. You read that right.

 

Poor change management doesn’t just hurt your business - it physically hurts your employees!

person sitting beside table

At Enboarder, we spent the past several years interviewing thousands of employees, speaking with *real-life* HR thought leaders, and studying alongside behavioral scientists to discover how to use the science of influence, persuasion, and motivation to understand how to effectively lead your people through Mergers & Acquisitions, Remote Work, Reboarding, Emergencies, and other workplace changes.

 

The result?

 

The People Activation Model.

 

(Want to know more about the model? You can read all about it here.)

 

The 4 Components of People Activation

For the health of your company and your employees, you need to reduce the fear and uncertainty that surrounds workplace changes by communicating effectively and ensuring that everyone knows what’s expected of them and what actions need to be taken at each step, and the science shows that this timely, meaningful action only happens when you have 4 specific components in play at the same time:

 

Engagement

Ok, ‘Engagement’ typically isn’t a problem when employees are going through workplace changes.

 

...The only question is: Are your people feeling positive or negative engagement?

 

If your people are feeling worried or concerned, or they feel like they don’t fit into the future of the company, they’ll be actively engaged in finding an escape plan!

 

For your people’s productivity and peace of mind, it’s important for them to clearly understand the larger context of the transition and the role they play in it. 

 

Here are some simple ways to make that happen:

 

  • Set up individual meetings with each department to discuss the change, how it will directly affect them, and the importance of the change to the overall company. 
  • Make sure your people understand, at an individual level, how they will play a vital role in the future of the company.
  • Conduct feedback surveys throughout the process so you can understand your employees’ fears and concerns.

 

Generic, impersonal messages that lack vision only feed your employee’s fears that they may soon be displaced. Keep your people engaged and at ease with personalized, empathetic actions and messaging with a strong future vision.

 

Nudges

person holding black android smartphone

Managing your normal workload can be hard - Keeping up while big, ominous changes loom in your mind can make it impossible.

 

Successfully implementing workplace changes means managing a million moving parts and actions that all have to happen at the right time, which puts a big mental load on your people

 

...and that’s why nudges are key. They’re helpful, bite-sized, and relevant communications, delivered at the right time, with the right information. 

 

Sending nudge reminders means that your people don’t have to expend the mental or physical energy to keep track of all of their change-related required actions in addition to their day-to-day tasks - They just get a quick note with what they need to do, right when they need to do it.

 

Try this:

 

  • Company updates, critical time frames, logistics, new processes - Share the updates your people need to know right when they need them.
  • Nudge an employee to complete a Change Feedback Survey at the most relevant time and send reminders at periodic intervals.
  • Message your employee the relevant sections of checklists they need to complete as they’re in each stage of the change process.
  • Nudge managers at regular intervals to remind them to check in on their employees’ wellbeing through the change process.

 

By sending nudges you reduce employee stress and overwhelm by helping your people know the exact actions they need to complete right now.

 

Ease 

woman in brown long-sleeved shirt in front of dry erase board

Friction comes in handy when you’re trying to open a jar, but it will absolutely kill the change you’re trying to implement (...and, with 70-90% of Mergers and Acquisitions failing, we need all the help we can get to succeed!)

 

Every extra link someone has to click, new system someone has to learn, or login someone has to remember, is another opportunity for them to get distracted or give up on the process entirely - and this is especially difficult when your employee is already going through a huge change.

 

Just like in all other areas of life, if you want someone to do something, make it easy for them to do it:

 

  • Use their messenger of choice (Does your employee prefer Slack? Email? Text?).
  • Reduce the number of different system log-ins (Can you send a direct link to your resources instead of sending them to a system login?).
  • Break up large checklists and procedures into bite-sized sections, so employees get just the relevant bits they need at the time instead of a 20 page behemoth.

 

Each and every step you take to remove friction, removes a layer of stress and uncertainty from your employees and gets you one step closer to success on your workplace change initiative.

 

Connection

A group of friends at a coffee shop

Ok, Engagement, Nudges, and Ease are great tools, but to implement them by themselves would be to neglect the single biggest factor that can affect the success of your change: Connection.

 

A feeling of connection helps alleviate the fear that builds up in your employees and causes them to be distrustful - 

 

29% of employees thought their employer had a hidden agenda behind workplace changes and 31% thought that their employer was trying to cover up the real reason for the change.

 

We need to help our people understand that we’re all in this together and working towards a brighter future together:

 

  • Facilitate moments of connection for your remote and in-office people to avoid them growing apart.
  • Set up return-to-work buddies to help make the trek back to the office less stressful.
  • Communicate a strong sense of connection as your two teams become one during a Merger or Acquisition process.
  • Ensure all departments that are working on executing the change are able to collaborate and communicate effectively.

 

Feeling excluded or alone is one of the greatest causes of employee fear in the workplace change process. Help your employees replace that fear with peace, by fostering a strong sense of connection.

 

...Oh, one more thing.

The 4 tactics we covered are incredibly useful, but if you really want your change to succeed where so many others fail, they have to be employed the right way.

 

Yep. For these elements to work most effectively, you have to implement each element from your people’s perspective! 

 

(We’re serious. This is huge - No skipping this section.)

 

Put yourself in your people’s shoes by asking yourself these questions:

 

  • What does this change look like from your people’s perspective?
  • What fears or narratives about this change could they be entertaining?
  • How does the work required for this change fit with their current workload?
  • What are they feeling at each stage of the change implementation?
  • Can they clearly see and understand what the post-change future looks like?

 

Remember, your people aren’t opposed to change...they’re just afraid of the unknown and uncertainty that comes with it. 

 

Use the 4 steps in the People Activation Model - delivered in a Human-Centric way - to help your employees feel at peace and understand what’s expected of them at each stage of the process.

 

Now go make some positive change!

Want to see results faster?

We got you.

 

We built our whole platform around this very psychology and the 4 elements of People Activation to allow you to build and deploy effective human-centric journeys from day one. 

 

Watch the quick, 5-minute video below to see Enboarder in action, and find out why our customers love Enboarder as much as you’re about to!

Whether it’s onboarding, learning and development, change management, diversity and inclusion, or employee transitions, we’ve reimagined HR. 

 

Come join the People Activation Revolution