You Can’t Spell Employee Experience Without Change Resiliency

on January 25, 2022
Resources All Managing Change

OK, maybe not spell it. But you certainly can’t embrace heightened employee experience without change resiliency, especially knowing 83% of business leaders believe employee experience is important to their organization. It’s clear my dream of being a Wordle world champion is out of the question, but my experience in helping clients build world-class change capabilities suggests that you can’t, in fact, separate the two. In the world we live in today, change resiliency is no longer an ancillary benefit of employee experience; it’s integral.

If You Can’t Avoid Change, You Need to Embrace It

It’s becoming a common story across the organizational landscape – change is inevitable. From new strategic directions, fresh looks at organizational orientation, hybrid work environments, and evolving technology infrastructure, the list of the different types of change is immense, but the most important concern for people is the frequency of change – how often these changes continue to surface.

A few months back, I was speaking with an organizational development leader about her priorities for the new calendar year. Her main concern was helping her team navigate the inordinate amount of change initiatives that were taking place across her organization. “Employees are being asked to understand and embrace our new CEO’s vision, a hybrid work environment, new operating models in three of our business units, new leadership capabilities, and refreshed values all at the same time. Oh, by the way, we’re also integrating a new HRIS system.”

My advice for her is the same as the advice I’ll give to you: the best way to navigate the burden of change is to equip your people with the mindsets and skills needed to embrace change.

The employee experience your people feel working in your organization is irrefutably connected to your ability to navigate the changes that come their way. Helping your people develop the right mindsets about change will bring them to the realization that change is out of our control, but how we respond to it is very much in our control. Now, you might be wondering, how can I help people react to change in a more positive, productive way? The key is moving people from a mindset of change resistance to change resilience.

Four Leadership Tactics That Build Resiliency and Change Mindsets

Once your people have the right mindsets about change, it’s time to equip them with the skillsets they need to take action in navigating change. If you put these four skills into practice with your teams right now, you will see stronger change capabilities and ultimately deliver a better employee experience.

  1. Amplify Truth Telling

In most organizations the truth is told at the watercooler, in the hallway, and in the bathroom – not in meetings attended by team members and their managers and other organizational leaders. This lack of honest communication can be a crippling reality in times of change.

Change leaders can address this resistance by using a Wall of Reality to amplify truth telling. The Wall of Reality creates a safe zone for people to share truth. It helps people see that they aren’t alone in their thinking and establishes a shared reality. And most importantly, it inspires shared vulnerability and drives accountability to address the truths that stand in the way of successful change.

  1. Leverage Shared Meaning as a Game Changer

With change comes misinterpretation – and as change leaders, it’s our job to be interpreters, to create shared meaning. When people are all talking the same talk and walking the same walk, great things happen. We should always be on the lookout for the words or concepts associated with change that can be interpreted differently from person to person and drive for shared meaning and alignment on the goal.

  1. If You Can’t Visualize It, You Can’t Execute It

Visualization is an important and simple process we can use to drive shared meaning with our teams. A quick sketch accompanied by an honest conversation can be incredibly effective in helping to highlight gaps in alignment, different perspectives, and complexity that needs to be untangled. The act of iteration and dialogue about the words associated with change accelerates shared meaning. Let’s not forget the adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Leaders should use this proven technique to their advantage in times of change.

  1. Stories Aren’t Just for Bedtime or the Movie Theater

Telling the story of the change we face is one of the most important actions of a change leader. It’s our chance not just to communicate an important message, but also to create excitement and be a role model for what it takes to achieve the goal. Often, business storytelling falls short of inspiring and compelling people to act. That’s because it addresses the head and not the heart. Change leaders must bring emotion to their words to ensure the story of change they tell makes an impact on their audience.

Preparing People for Change Is Essential

Helping people prepare for the challenges of change should be a critical part in your strategic change process. While there will undoubtedly be unforeseen hurdles to overcome, helping people develop a mindset where change isn’t feared or rejected before it even begins is paramount. And it all starts with the leadership team. Leaders who can help people accept change by leveraging truth, shared meaning, visualization, and storytelling are those who are setting their people, and organization, up for greater odds of success.

The only way change will stick is if leaders can help people move away from resisting change and start embracing it. The pace of change isn’t getting any slower, and if you want your employee experience to thrive, you have to build the right capabilities to match its speed.

 

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