Businessman assembling jigsaw puzzle human team employee

Recovery Playbook

your talent challenges have changed

2020 has forced every business to rethink Talent. Talencity’s Talent Recovery Playbook is a resource guide to you in pivoting, shifting or re-inventing your talent strategy.

Each week for 12-weeks, a new resource will be launched.

Impact of Change on Talent

As leaders, we can help our talent embrace changes and disruptions, while creating a positive outcome for both your organization and your team.

As the cliche goes, change is the only constant. The pandemic has no doubt brought on many unprecedented and disruptive change.

While changes can bring about positive progress, if mismanaged, it could become negative and overwhelming to your talent thus ultimately hurting your organization.

It is important for leadership to take to heart that changes are often perceived by employees with fear and uneasiness. These are brought on by fear of the unknown, perceived risks, and the difficulty of adjustment.

The good news is that as leaders, we can help our talent adapt to these changes, and even create excitement, anticipation and build engagement throughout the process while creating a positive outcome for both our organizations and our team.

Understand the Psychology of Change

The statistics are undeniable. According to research by Morneau Shepell 1, 40% of employees who have experienced organizational changes said it has negatively impacted their health and well-being, while 30% said these changes have affected their job performance.

People fear change and the unknown that it brings, and thus become resistant to them. When faced with the unknown, the human psyche tends to think of the worst case scenarios, such as worrying about job security or failing in the new environment. As such, there often tends to be a status quo bias (preference for keeping things the same), loss aversion (preference of avoiding loss being stronger than acquiring potential gains), and self-defense mechanism (taking changes personally).

From John Kotter’s “Leading Change”2 to a McKinsey survey3, it is estimated that 70% of organizational changes fail. Leaders who take these emotions to heart and genuinely care about their talent throughout the change process will be the ones who can make the successful transformation.

Present a Compelling Vision of the Future

The fear of the unknown can be overcome by providing a clear and vivid picture of the future. This will not only eliminate resistance to change, it will create excitement and anticipation for your organization.

Take time to explain the changes, why they are necessary and important, and why right now. Explain your end goals in terms of outcomes and not tasks will also help build excitement. Ensure your employees know that you, along with the entire leadership team, are here to support them through these changes. Focus on encouraging and rewarding positive change behaviours instead of berating negative ones. And instead of focusing on the resistance, focus on providing your team with support on building coping skills and resilience.

Ongoing reiteration of this vision will provide renewed focus and hopes. Do not under-estimate the difficulty and frustrations during the process of transition/change. Always be ready to articulate why these changes and their roles are critical to organizational success. Celebrate short term wins to keep enthusiasm and optimism alive!

Ongoing and Open Communication

As change is a step-by-step process, as opposed to the flip of a switch, keeping employees updated throughout is a leading factor in transformational success, according to this McKinsey survey 4. Be sure you and your entire executive team are armed with the most up-to-date information and progress to ensure a clear and consistent message. Always relate your communication back to the compelling vision you have already communicated.

Apart from the regularity of updates, be open, direct and honest. Demonstrate your willful commitment to providing both the positive’s and the negative’s in a timely fashion. Just be honest if you do not have all the answers.

When communicating, acknowledge the growing pains, while focusing on how the organization, your team and even each team member will benefit from these changes. The better understanding of these changes, the more committed your team will be to take ownership of these changes.

Change Adaptability for Your Talent

If change is the only constant, it only makes sense for your organization to help your talent be most adaptive to change.

Since human are pre-disposed to resisting change, providing skills which help your team cope with changes should be an ongoing focus. Broad-based upskilling in digital skills should be a continuous focus for any organizations to ensure they have the most sought-after skill-sets in residence. Investment in building coping skills for stress, resilience to change/disruptions as well as leadership training will prove to be invaluable to the future of your organization.

Align your system, processes and structure to support changes will also help your team adapt better. Structure teams with a focus on agility and rapid decision-making abilities. Ensure your work processes support quick response and adaptation of changes as required. Be sure to align your HR, performance management and reward systems to accurately reflect contributions to embracing and implementing required changes.

Final Thoughts

“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” – Peter Drucker

Changes are necessary with ongoing evolution of business environment and rapid changes in technology. They are important to drive your organization forward while staying competitive.

The key success factors of transforming an organization lie within the leadership team. Leaders must be able to create a compelling vision of the future, for the organization, the purpose of the changes, as well as how the team will help create this new and brighter future. Open, clear and timely communication will also be the key to the success of such transformation.

Constantly invest in your talent to build their readiness for change. Ensure alignment of your structure, systems and processes to embrace such adaptability. This will truly become your sustainable competitive advantage for years to come.