How to deal with change and insecurity: a case study

How to deal with change and insecurity: a case study
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Every day, we help companies and their employees to be able to handle the changes and the consequences these changes has on them and their surroundings. For this case study, we have an international production company which is facing the challenge of creating a workforce that is more capable of providing the customers with service excellence and being able to take ownership of their own ambitions and problems.

Together with their management, we defined that essential leadership skills where missing for managers and employees with their respective roles. We found that most of their workforce consist of excellent specialists with a lot of knowledge and experience. However, these people were not used to take leadership within their own role. They were also not used to tackling challenges and problems on their own.

Customer satisfaction reviews demanded that changes were needed in many segments of the company, and showed that for the company to meet customer expectations, the focus should be shifted away from knowledge towards leadership and problem-solving. As such, our solution did not seek to enhance the knowledge and skills of the employees, we were focused on changing their behaviour.

During the first town-hall meeting, we presented this plan. Sure enough, there was a large reaction. People felt insecure about this new direction, and how it would affect them professionally and personally. This became one of the focus points during our program.

So we:

  • Helped to formulate the necessary changes and promoted the kind of behaviour needed to meet customer demands.
  • Created a program designed to help managers and employees to understand the changes, equipped them with the skills and knowledge to change their behaviour. This program took a total of eight months.
  • Started with a personal assessment on their perception of their role, and the key areas of change, and how they felt about the changes.
  • Created a timeline of learning events designed to help them incorporate those changes in their day to day work. These questions included: what kind of action points do you want to achieve? Did it work out like you expected? If not, why not? And how can you get even better results? What do you need to get there? This was done via group and individual coaching sessions with the help of digital technology.
  • Had specific meetings and gatherings to create synergy between management and teams. The focus was on: what did the change mean for their roles, where did it meet, and what did they need from each other?
  • After eight months we re-assessed the initial personal perception of their role, their behaviour and how they felt about the changes.

What where the issues we faced?

During the start, there was a lot of insecurity. Here, we took time to let those emotions be heard, and helped employees to find out what they meant. We recognise that it is a normal human reaction to resist a change – especially one that has come from outside the organisation – and not everyone has to accept it. But we wanted to help them be in control what it meant for them, and help them take action in the direction they wanted.

What where the key factors to the project success?

There was enough room for employees to understand the new direction the company chose. If this had not been addressed at the start of the program, there would be a lot more people fighting the changes in their way of thinking and working. With mutual understanding, there was now an opportunity to incorporate these changes on their own terms. The program fitted that need.

Another factor was that both managers and teams communicated about their views on the matter, and created common goals to work towards. This, in a sense, created a new way of communicating about the subject, where it was ensured that all employees used the same meaning and directions of those goals.

What outcome did the project generate? 

A year later the ultimate test was the customer satisfaction survey. We also asked for in-depth feedback from some key clients was used to see if things changed for the better. And it did. The clients felt that the company employees had ownership of the situation, and appeared more capable in finding a quick solution by themselves.

Internally teams felt like their managers became better leaders, instead of bosses. It was perceived like management focused more on their own role and tasks, and less on the details of their team tasks. In the annual survey and meeting, they scored higher in terms of being inspirational and giving the employees trust.

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