Company Wide Engagement in a Global Finance Transformation
A globally distributed manufacturing company had decided to transform their core systems and processes to make them more fit for purpose and future ready, at least in common with and ideally better than other organisations in their sector. Recent high growth had caused them to focus on the day today activities and meanwhile their core processes had increasingly become outdated and inefficient.
The transformation leadership team had lots of meetings to decide how these changes would be done, developing plans, setting up governance processes, agreeing the workstreams and who would lead them. All the usual things you would expect when running a big change programme.
All seemed well and everyone was feeling optimistic about the changes ahead.
As the plans developed it became increasingly obvious how extensive these changes would need to be. Many thousands of jobs would have to change quite extensively, large parts of the company would need to be reorganised and many processes would be centralised, taking some jobs away from individual countries into one global team in central Europe. It was also becoming clear that many of the benefits would only be realised through big reductions in staff through a combination of process automation and consolidation of business functions into global structures.
This was not going to go down well with the countries affected and there was a realisation that this was very likely to get a fair amount of resistance, especially from the heads of department within the affected countries. The case for change was reasonably strong, most people understood, at least rationally, that staying as they are was not a good option as competition was strong in their sector. Nevertheless the reality of what had to change was definitely going to be a matter of fierce debate once the details became clear to everyone.
The trouble was that the senior team were just guessing what people would be thinking, admittedly in part as a results of real conversations with a few people, but nevertheless they didn't really know. It was almost impossible to know what people were really thinking because of course many people were nervous about speaking up too much, especially with so much uncertainty around.
They decided that they should find a way to anonymously capture what the people most affected by the change were really thinking about it. Anonymity was the critical point here because they really needed honesty rather than what people thought they wanted to hear. They had a feeling it might be painful but better to have the pain before the change starts than halfway through, when it's too late to do anything. Also if they know what people most feared they could find ways to help "sweeten the pill" for some of them.
This is when they found the Change Journey Navigator. A deciding factor in choosing it was that it was built on a simple but clear change model. The 5E model has just five major elements, which made it very easy to understand and to share. The assessment probed areas that most surveys don’t and that reflect the deep beliefs and fears often associated with change situations.
They worked with the Applied Change team to position the navigator survey in a way that was designed to maximise engagement. It would be a missed opportunity if they didn't include the views of the majority of people. They stressed the idea that they really care about how the transformation affects those involved and that their views would help shape how the changes are delivered. It must have worked because they had a response rate of well over 70%! The survey was quick and engaging so that helped too, taking less than 8 minutes per person.
Once they got the results back a week later some patterns became immediately clear:
- There were significant concerns over the amount of time everyone would have available to make the changes alongside normal business
- There was a consistent sense that the organisation wasn't generally good at change so this would be no exception - in other words a lack of belief that they could get there
- A perception that the downsides that had been identified were not being dealt with quickly enough or comprehensively enough
- Communication wasn't landing well enough, people were generally feeling like they were in the dark and that was leaving them concerned
They also noticed significant differences between the various countries, some being significantly more positive overall than others, which was slightly puzzling.
Then they hit on an idea. They would break the findings down into the various geographic regions and give each one a results pack to work through with their teams. Their job would be to take the insights for their region and develop action plans to deal with what had come up as most critical. The agreement was to pick the top 3 then work on those before picking the next 3 and so on.
This had a profound impact on the overall engagement as more and more people were seeing the insights and getting involved in solving what had been identified. They were starting to become masters of their own destiny and feeling that they could indeed influence how the change was being delivered.
They began to become less fearful for themselves, even those who whose jobs would change significantly or who may not have a future at the organisation could see it coming and prepare accordingly.
It was clear though that the change journey still had a long way to go so they would need to keep their eye on the ball with engagement, using the Change Journey Navigator as their guide.