Did you know that according to Gallup Corporation (2008, 2010), in the average company only 1/3 of employees are engaged in their work AND almost 20% are not just non-engaged but actively disengaged? Wow. Does that sound like your company, your department, your team? Where do you fit? Now, layer a change initiative on top of this and what do you get? Another reason why about 70% of change initiatives fail without effective change management attending to the people part of the equation.
World class companies, on the other hand, have almost a reverse profile with a 67% engagement level and only 7% active disengagement. Engaged employees are more productive than their counterparts. Not a surprise there. Some research suggests a link between openness to change and job satisfaction. So it seems reasonable to me to incorporate facets of employee engagement into your change management efforts. Who knows, in addition to making it easier to adapt to and maintain the AR Optimization initiative you’re implementing, you might just be strengthening employee engagement. And, adding even more profitability to the bottom line.
There are different theories of engagement, each with their own definition and the specific factors which support it. I’m just going to pick a few factors that I think are particularly important to change initiatives that are fairly consistent across the definitions. I have also offered suggestions on how to incorporate them into your change management strategies.
- Meaningful work. Create a shared vision, purpose and values.
- Why is this Receivables Management System deployment important to the company? (or Why is the company doing this?).
- Ensure the purpose is clearly communicated along with a picture of the future vision.
- Show them how they fit into the big picture (or Why am I important?)
- Shared values. What values are evident in the new initiative (e.g., reducing the company’s financial risk, serving customers more effectively) and link to the individual’s values in their new role. This is part of their new role identity.
- Trust. Build trust as you lead and you’ve built a strong foundation which will serve your leadership for years to come.
- Build trust in leaders through continuous, open and honest 2-way communication.
- Trust in your colleagues. Share your expertise and your time. Help each other. Be a team.
- Fairness. People need to feel that they are being treated fairly or this can become a real obstacle.
- Are you soliciting and LISTENING to their opinions and suggestions about the project, even if it’s not what you want to hear?
- If Accounts Receivable automation involves possible headcount reduction, is that being communicated early with real efforts to place people in other positions? If you listen to them and work with their best interests at heart, people can feel the process is fair.
- Does the change result in perceived favoritism to certain individuals or departments? How can you address that?
- Clear performance expectations. Uncertainty raises fear and resistance.
- Anticipate what new job roles will look like. Work closely with people to ensure they understand the new processes and make any adjustments necessary when you move from theoretical to practical application.
- Set clear goals and expectations.
- Develop a set of measures and monitor progress of the change initiative.
- Share what’s working with the rest of the organization, and celebrate wins.
- Growth opportunities.
- How does the new initiative offer personal and professional growth opportunities?
- Does the change provide for a new variety of tasks that can be interesting and challenging? Are you matching people’s strengths with their job responsibilities?
- Does the change provide for work load balances that were not possible before? Will it ultimately result in less overwork and stress? If time is freed up, how can they use it doing tasks they enjoy and which contribute to the company?
By complementing your change management efforts with these principles of employee engagement, you should not only reap the productivity increases that leveraging a Receivables Management platform brings to bear, but also enhance performance by having a higher percentage of the employees truly producing results.
What is your change engagement level? Does your department executive the above mentioned strategies when implementing change initiatives?