Get employees involved in change projects to increase their sense of ownership and improve project success

Version 3

    Happy Friday lovely readers!


    I hope everyone has had a good week and that you've all got nice plans for the weekend.


    Today’s article is all about the value of engaging employees in change programs and some tips for how to go about doing that.


    Typically as adults when we have a stake in something, we want that thing to be successful. This is because the success or failure of that thing will in some way be a reflection on us as individuals. This idea is something we should keep in mind when running change programs within the workplace.


    The more opportunities that you can find to have people from your organisation involved in a change project in some way, the more ownership people will feel for the projects. This will result in higher levels of engagement and commitment to the project and organisation and ensure lower levels of resistance. People want the projects that they've been involved in to be a success.


    Every two years Prosci, a change management research and training organisation complete a change management benchmarking research report which uncovers many interesting statistics surrounding change and the key influencers of success. In the most recent report ‘employee engagement and participation’ was one of the top 5 ‘contributors to change project success’, along with active and visible sponsorship, following a structured change management approach, having dedicated change management resources and funding for the  project, and frequent and open communications.


    McKinsey has also completed research on the topic of employee involvement within projects and found that when leaders ensure that front-line staff members feel a sense of ownership, transformation projects achieve a 70% success, compared with the often quoted statistic that only 30% of transformation projects succeed.


    My personal experience over the years working on change projects is completely aligned to the above - where projects that look for ways to involve employees are always more successful than those which don’t.  No matter how small or trivial those engagements might seem, they do make a difference to the way that employees feel about the project.


    At a very basic level - involving employees could simply mean asking them for feedback or ideas that relate to the project. As adults (+ children too, come to think of it!) we all want to be heard, and want for our ideas and opinions be given careful consideration and respect. Knowing we’ve been listened to is often even more important than having our ideas implemented. With this in mind, my suggestion is that at a bare minimum you should always ensure you solicit and listen carefully to feedback about the project. Employees need to know that they have a channel open to them where they can share their thoughts. This doesn't mean that you need to do everything that you hear, as that would be impossible, but it is important that employees know that they have had an opportunity to share their thoughts.



    Solicit feedback


    Here are a couple of ways that you could bring this to life:

    • Feedback form on intranet
    • Feedback form embedded within every email you send
    • Poll on G+
    • Physical postbox for ideas
    • Wall of ‘ideas’ where people can attach post-it notes or write on whiteboard
    • Drop in room / hangout (certain hours / days of week to share feedback directly with someone from project team)

    My suggestion for the above is to keep it really simple - for example a two question form:

    1. ‘How excited are you about project X?’ (1=never heard of it, 5= can’t wait)
    2. ‘Please share with us any ideas or feedback you have about this project’ (open text)

    This channel should be open through all stages of the project - before, during and long after go-live. And make sure that the feedback is read and acknowledged and a summary of the actions taken because of the feedback are shared back with employees. The next way you can get your employees involved is by having them help with some of the project related activities. This could include:

    • User focus groups: Bringing together employees from various user groups (HR, Marketing, Sales etc) and finding out more from that group about the watch points and quick wins, understanding potential  impacts on the group, identifying best comms or training channels, identifying relevant use cases etc
    • Project name ideas: Have employees come up with suggestions for a name for the project
    • Communications design ideas: Have employees come up with ideas for poster designs and project logos
    • Communications channels identification: Have employees share their suggestions about how best to communicate to them
    • Training format and timing suggestions: Have employees share suggestions of how and when training will be most impactful and what channels people like to consume their learning (handouts, videos, Q&A sessions etc)
    • Champions: Recruit and engage a formal champions/ Google Guides program
    • Q&A sessions: Have champions host Q&A sessions for peers
    • Tip of the week: Encourage employees to share their ‘tips of the week’
    • Create team videos: Encourage teams to create videos demonstrating specific use cases that they’ve identified, or of them living new cultural values such as ‘collaboration’, ‘mobility’, ‘flexibility, ‘transparency’
    • Nominate / assign G+ community owners: Find employees with special interests and invite them to set up and manage their own G+ communities on their specialist subject (anything from photography to coding)
    • Have employees facilitate transformation labs (once they’ve been trained on how to do this)
    • Participate in the innovation council: Invite some employees to be a part of the ‘Innovation council’
    • Establish a ‘reverse mentoring program’: Pair up junior tech-savvy employees with leaders and encourage mentoring in both directions
    • Have everyone share a Google related tip at the start of each team meeting



    Competitions = fun and engagement


    Running competitions is another way of having people engage with the project. For example you could run employee competitions to identify:

    • Project name
    • Project branding
    • Identify use cases
    • Identify success stories
    • The best team or project website
    • ‘Best dressed’ inbox
    • Team video showing new organizational culture
    • Most collaborative project team



    Everyone likes to celebrate!


    Another idea for having people feel like they are involved in the project is to get them to organise or take part in some type of celebration. Everyone loves a party,  so look for an excuse to celebrate something. It needn’t cost money - you could simply have employees do a cake baking competition or do a funny hat day or crazy sunglasses day, or dress only a specific colour day - or finish work a bit early and have drinks and pizza’s - just brand it something to do with your project. It could be a go-live of some sort, or it could be a farewell party to farewell the past. It might be to celebrate a specific milestone (number of 7/day active users), it could be part of a new focus or initiative to get people to use G+ (for example), or it could be an anniversary party (1 month since go-live for example) Any excuse can be made! The important thing is to get people involved in organising the celebration get employees participating most importantly to get people smiling and having some fun. They’ll then have a positive memory that will be associated with the project.



    Involvement increases success


    Involving employees in your project will increase the chance of project success. It doesn’t have to cost a lot or involve complicated programs to increase employee involvement. Hopefully some of the ideas above might be are things you might be able to try in the future. When employees feel like they’ve been listened to it helps make them feel valued and will also increase their trust and belief in the leadership team. And of course it should also uncover some new and interesting ideas that can be shared across the organisation which in turn will further help increase adoption, collaboration and efficiency.


    I’d love to hear back from you to see if you’ve had any successes with trying any of the above, or if you’ve got some additional ideas that I haven’t captured here.


    Looking forward to hearing from you.