Executive engagement is key for any initiative within your organization. Project teams often recruit key executives to communicate updates and changes to the entire organization. While executive messaging is definitely a best practice in Change Management, it is usually high-level and does not adequately address detailed impacts on end-users. By not communicating these detailed impacts, project teams create a gap in information, wherein end-users lack understanding of the real change to their day-to-day.
So what is this “one easy way” to fill this communication gap?
By creating a Change Network.
A Change Network is a group of individuals that represent the various departments and/or office locations that will be impacted by an upcoming initiative or project. Each department or office has its own hand-selected representative within the Change Network who understands the impact to their “constituents” and understands the concerns that need to be addressed. The project team meets with the Change Network representatives on a regular (usually monthly) basis to keep them informed of project updates and upcoming changes. The representatives serve as liaisons between their groups and the project team – providing communication to their departments and helping them get involved in the upcoming changes.
Setting up this Change Network helps fill the executive communication gap in three primary ways:
- The Change Network is able to tailor its messaging and address detailed impacts to end-users – because they meet regularly with the project team, Change Network participants are able to ask questions and better understand the impacts to their specific department and/or office. Participants can translate high-level information into terms that are more easily understood by their colleagues – and can sift out any unnecessary information that clutters the message.
- The Change Network will solicit feedback from end-users – when an executive sends communications, rarely does it provide an opportunity for feedback; and if it does, oftentimes executives don’t have the time to effectively respond to all of the feedback they receive. With a Change Network, each representative solicits feedback from their team and provides detailed answers. The Change Network participants can collect feedback from their groups and research the answers with the project team. Additionally, for end-users, providing feedback to a colleague can be a much more approachable alternative to the daunting task of providing feedback directly to an executive.
- The Change Network will assist in preparing end-users for Go-Live – leading up to Go-Live, it is integral that all end-users know exactly how to proceed once an initiative or system goes live. Executive messaging can serve to motivate end-users and instill a positive outlook on the upcoming changes, but the detailed directions and answers that a Change Network can provide are what will ultimately alleviate the stress of change.
As an added bonus, individuals within the Change Network can serve multiple roles in addition to merely filling the communication gap. Over time, they will become subject matter experts, can be utilized in testing efforts, and can help promote continuous improve in post Go-Live activities.
By Nick Kennedy and Verite Pitts