You may have thought developing and then obtaining an approval to implement a change to your CW program was hard work. But running an RFP, educating and rallying stakeholders, doing your research and due diligence is nothing compared with the work that is required to manage this change in your organization.
Arnold Bennett, a British novelist, once said, “Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” Indeed, there always will be resistance to change, be it out of fear, frustration or just stubbornness.
To better manage this tendency to resist, consider approaching change as a value add to the business. Change management should be considered a marketing campaign that helps launch and drive adoption of your new program enhancement.
When launching a product or service, a marketing department does its homework to understand who its audience is (or in your case, stakeholders and engagement managers), and crafts a message or branding (exposure) for what’s to come.
When implementing any change in your contingent workforce program, no matter the size, people will be more open to accepting it if they understand why the change is happening and how it will affect/benefit them. According to workforce expert Kay Colson, a senior associate with Brightfield Strategies, there are four critical components to a successful change management initiative:
- Understand your stakeholder group
- Communicate why the change is coming
- Communicate why it is good for them
- Prepare them before it takes place
Communication. Communication is crucial throughout the entire change process for all parties involved. It must be done during the pre-implementation, implementation and post-implementation phases. It should be simple yet focused. The better you are at it, the better you will be able to measure the success (or failure) of your efforts. This also serves as a means to address challenges along the way, why they happened and what you can do to address them quickly.
Training. Another critical element for successful change management is training. Understanding that people learn differently may require you to offer various options. Someone may require hands-on training while another person is more comfortable following a process map. Having different training methods and having them ongoing is essential. Remember not everyone utilizes your CW program consistently. There are some engagement managers who require a contingent worker one time a year, while others bring them on daily. Being able to provide “just-in-time” training support will eliminate frustration and increase adoption.
Internal engagement managers or employees apart, remember your suppliers and contingent workers are also integral groups to take into consideration. Understanding how the change will affect each of these groups and tailoring the communication to address the needs of each will be extremely beneficial.
Why the Change
Program managers implement change because there is a business driver for it and communicating why that matters is crucial. Whether it is a business directive, a risk-avoidance or cost-cutting measure, be confident in your reasoning and be sure to communicate that reason confidently.
Make sure that your rationale addresses your stakeholders and other constituents’ needs. Be sure to give them the WIIFM (what’s in it for me). If time-to-fill will be improved, costs reduced, or access to better talent, highlight it; people are obviously more receptive to change when they feel they will receive a direct benefit in return for their support.
What does this all boil down to? People are halfhearted about change when they are unsure of what is happening around them. The more you prepare your people for the change, the better your chance for success. So explain the why, how, what and when. Yes, change is good. But only as good as the effort you put into making your program constituents believe that it is good — for the company and for them personally.