Ch-ch-ch-changes – getting it right and how not to get it really wrong

There have been a number of high-profile examples in the past week that have critically reinforced the key role communication plays in a respectful and successful change management process.

Nobody enjoys needing to do change management – it’s inevitable impacts on the people you have worked alongside, had after-work drinks with, and often come to regard as friends, can be a difficult pill to swallow.

Shine has supported a number of clients through this process over the past 11 years and while the nature of changing economies may dictate its necessity, there is a right and a wrong way to go about them.

Our guiding philosophy is about supporting, caring for and respecting people, to ensure those impacted (as well as those who remain), are treated fairly. You can achieve all of this, while still meeting your business objectives and ensuring you stay on the right side of employment law.

Honest, transparent, and authentic communication is vital and goes a long way to making people feel informed and heard.

Above all, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that people are at the crux of change management processes, and their livelihoods are not something to treat trivially. Put yourself in their shoes, understand that they will go through the stages of grief, and be there to support them in every way you can.

Every business and its people are different, but there are some key steps which will help ensure a smooth, fair and lawful change process:

  1. Get your communications team around the table as soon as possible to provide advice and input from the beginning.
  2. Ensure an appropriate timeline is built into the process from the beginning – this is not something that can be rushed, nor predetermined.
  3. Don’t forget about those who remain after the process is complete. Have a recovery strategy ready to guide the team on the new way forward.

And for comms practitioners, this is one of those cases when you need to be as skilled in Employment Law as the HR team. Employment NZ has some useful background info – it’s worth taking the time to familiarise yourself with the process.

Finally, given we started this with a David Bowie reference, we’ll end it with one of the verses from that song – which is slightly ironic given some of the events of last week.

And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through