Introducing new concepts, systems, or processes in a work environment is rarely as simple as sending an email and immediately getting the desired results. Successfully convincing individuals to change their behavior in the workplace requires:
- Clear communication about expectations
- An organizational training program that provides the necessary skills
- Consistent reinforcement and measurement
This might seem like a tall order, and indeed it does require a comprehensive overall strategy, but there are some simple change management activities you can do on a daily basis.
Meetings are the most logical place for change management activities because you have the attention of the entire group at the same time. You can ensure that people hear the message and create a greater likelihood of understanding what you say. Consider adding these change management activities to your next meeting agenda:
1. Status Updates
Have an agenda item for status updates about initiatives occurring in your organization. For example, if your organization is shifting to a customer-centric culture, a sales staff meeting might include an update about the new sales process that is under development. This is also an excellent opportunity to gather input from the sales team about how to be more customer centric and get the team to start thinking in that mindset.
Status updates should include:
- What initiatives are currently happening
- The status of each initiative
- The next steps for each initiative
The individuals providing the updates will have to stay on top of their assigned tasks, and others will feel more involved in the process, especially if they have the opportunity to provide feedback during status updates.
2. Reinforcement Exercises
If your strategy includes organizational training, one of the most important change management activities you can do is reinforcement exercises. The human brain will only retain so much information (10-30%) after a training session unless you actively recall the lessons learned. Adding a quick reinforcement exercise such as a quiz, game, or discussion about how to apply the new knowledge in the workplace will keep the information fresh in the minds of participants and encourage them to apply and use their new skills.
3. Introduce the Next Initiative
Make time to discuss the next change that is on the horizon, even if you don’t plan to roll it out for several months. Communicating early about changes to come will allow individuals to mentally prepare in advance. Providing regular updates about the plans in the pipeline will reduce the inevitable anxiety that people feel about change. Giving individuals an opportunity to provide feedback will make them feel more invested in the process and increase the likelihood that they will embrace the new systems. Clear communication about upcoming initiatives also demonstrates that leadership has a strategy in place and a plan for executing it.
4. Recognize Successes
Create an agenda item that prompts you to identify all of the successful milestones or accomplishments since the previous meeting. These could be as simple as an individual who exhibited one of the desirable behaviors identified in a recent training, or as significant as a team who measurably improved their sales numbers. When individuals know that leadership is paying attention and that they will be rewarded for their efforts, they are more likely to adopt the changes you are introducing and more likely to perform at their peak. Many leaders don’t realize how impactful recognition can be, especially in a public form like a team meeting.
5. Action Items
Every productive meeting should include action items that are assigned to individuals and have clear deadlines. Action items go hand-in-hand with status updates on your agenda. Everybody knows that they will be expected to report back to the group, increasing the likelihood that they will complete their assigned tasks. Action items also provide the benefit of keeping a project moving forward.
It’s unrealistic to expect individuals to change their behavior without some motivation. Including these change management activities in your meetings helps maintain momentum, gives leadership a forum for introducing new changes to come, and increases accountability. What agenda items did you include in your last meeting?