Change Management Part II: Our Process
In my Part I of this blog, I went over what change management is; now it’s time to determine what the process looks like and how we can help you through it.
Collaboration is where magic happens. To have a successful outcome in change management, there needs to be a foundation of collaboration, communication and understanding between you and your design team. The first step is some good old-fashioned face time. We’ll all sit down and determine what your goals are and what changes you are seeking to make. We will ask questions. Lots of them:
What are your top priorities in which you need buy-in from your employees?
What are the areas you want to make more efficient?
How do you work or interact with each other?
What amenities do you want to add to attract new employees and retain current staff?
Once we know these answers, we can help develop a strategy to introduce ‘the vision’ to other members of your team.
The second task is identifying people within your company to help relay the vision to other employees. We lovingly call these team members User Group Champions (UGC) and they are vital to making the change process run smoothly. The UGCs help bridge understanding between those who are making the changes and employees who will be adapting to the changes. When UGCs are defined early in the process they help foster excitement and trust throughout the office and ultimately assist with a quicker buy-in. If employee buy-in takes too long it can slow the process down in the form of rumors, complaints and resistance. The more people on board with the vision, the merrier everyone will be!
While the UGCs are off creating internal excitement about the vision, we will need to gather empirical data about how each division within your office works. This knowledge will support your vision being implemented correctly. Our first steps were all about looking at things from ten thousand feet; next we have to dial in to the ground floor details. This sort of ‘information-dive’ is done through staff interviews, review forms, and surveys. The feedback received from these pieces is key because it provides valuable understanding of how the different employee groups actually work, not just how your leadership perceives them to work. Most importantly it makes everyone feel like their voice is heard—because it is! We’ll then cobble all of this information into our planning process to start to envision what the physical space should be, what working styles will help you work best, and what components, if any, are missing. Then we’ll review all of this with you and the UGC’s so that together we can make informed decisions. Once a consensus is reached, we’ll begin the testing phase and start to introduce small practical applications.
The testing phase is when we REALLY want to make sure the UGCs are involved. It’s at this juncture that their role as educators becomes critical. Employees are going to start seeing plans, office layouts, and workstations that they will be asked to try out. It is crucial that when an employee tries something new a UGC is there to help answer questions and/or relay their questions to you and to us, the designers. This will help eliminate misinterpretation, intimidation and confusion. Another round of interviews and surveys follows to capture feedback from the test group about what they liked and didn't like. We want employees to feel comfortable sharing their preferences, so we can confidently move forward. Facilitating a constant dialogue between your employees, the UGCs, and the design team is vital. Consensus between the team is imperative as you move into the final phase of implementation to make sure everyone is ready and aware (and hopefully excited) of what is coming.
So, how important is the testing phase? Let’s look at the design of Bob Evans Farm’s new corporate headquarters. Bob Evans wanted to transition to a more collaborative environment, but with the existing office spaces being more private and less open, there was very little dialogue or interaction among staff members. Reversing that environment and providing more opportunity for collaboration was the vision set forth by Bob Evans and the design team. However design change was more than a physical change, it meant changing the way employees thought about open office environments. During the testing phase, feedback was received and employees were struggling with how lower-paneled, open workstations didn’t mean less privacy or more noise. We learned that we needed to slow down our communications and be transparent on expectations to receive staff buy-in. Now, the employees have really embraced the fact that they can work more efficiently in adjoining workstations, rather than private offices.
The last phase is where you’ll see magic happen. From testing, we move to delivery and implementation of your new space. Encourage your UGCs to lead by example to help ease the physical and emotional transition of staff into their new environment and way of working. As cliché as it sounds, you must continually tell yourself not to be afraid of change, but instead focus on the new opportunities the change will create. A positive mentality is crucial to achieving the objectives and vision you laid out at the very start of the project. Once the change is implemented, take a step back, try to be objective, and give it a try. Then you’ll be able to see what follow-ups and tweaks might be needed to finalize your new office environment and culture.
6 things to take away:
- Internal User Group Champions (UGC) are KEY to keeping lines of communication open and helping deliver the right information organically throughout the company. Choose them wisely.
- Change Management is just as much about work culture as it is about a physical relocation/renovation. Employees need to buy into the vision—everyone’s input is critical.
- Embrace new ideas and trends! This is a major way to improve functionality, efficiency, and increase employee retention.
- Education and communication is a CONTINUAL PROCESS. There is no “one and done” here, continue to explain and reiterate as changes are implemented.
- Always, Always, ALWAYS follow-up with the employees and the design team. Little changes can make big impacts. We are here to help even after the project is done.
- Choose your design team wisely. Every company has a different process. Choose a partner that you feel in your gut will complement your process and make the change smooth and enjoyable.
by Mark Bryan
Associate, Senior Interior Designer
A leader and catalyst of innovation and research at M+A, Mark strives to discover ways in which spatial design and technology integration can influence users in a positive way. Mark enjoys exploring design trends and his approach to design is largely influenced by cultural changes and shifts that occur in the world, whether they are major trends or subtle cues.