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Hosted services, cloud computing, new technologies, customer experience, voice of the customer–there are so many new developments in the contact center front that it’s often easy to forget about your employees. Can they deal with change? Are you doing everything you can to ensure the new technologies or processes you are introducing will be successfully integrated into the business culture? Or are you framing your vision for failure with lackluster change management?

Afraid of Change

People are necessarily afraid of change because it represents the unknown. Human beings are inherently comfortable with stable, known lives. When you introduce chaos into their known world it becomes disorienting, frightening, and they are forced to reevaluate their position.

There are two kinds of change: small changes that don’t really have a lot of impact and big changes that have revolutionary and transforming impacts. Most people deal with small changes fine–the real problems arise with the revolutionary kind of changes. Launching something like the iPhone was a huge risk that required a lot of buy-in for success, but Apple ended up transforming the way people interacted with each other and technology.

It wasn’t easy. Let’s examine why resistance happens.

There are several basic sources of resistance to change:

  1. Perception – Do people understand the idea or vision? Are you just using empty platitudes that mean little? Do they see the rationale for the change? Are you communicating the change clearly and allowing people to have their say? Does the change look like its being arbitrarily forced on them?
  2. Motivation – Have you addressed the costs and fears people have? These can kill any desire for change. Does success seem possible–are you able to inspire your workers to change? What do they get out of the change? How can it benefit them in their reality?
  3. Creativity – Does your organization encourage creativity? Does it applaud novel, new ways of solving problems? A lack of creativity can generate much resistance to something new and different. Are people able to conceptualize, understand, and feed off the new vision? Can they take the change and make it their own?

Talk to Me

For successful change implementations, communication is key. Communication helps eliminate the unknown. It mitigates fear and encourages buy-in. It also promotes understanding and helps people feel involved in the process. Communication helps people see that, while many things are changing, many other things are also staying the same. So how can you successfully communicate a change?

Successful change communications should be:

  1. Understandable – Relate the change in language your employees understand. Show that you understand the situation of your workers and tell them your change plan in a way they can understand.
  2. Complete – Present benefits and potential problems–and what you are doing to mitigate the problems.
  3. Credible – Use facts, logical reasoning, and figures showing that the change is necessary to the business. Convince, don’t command.
  4. Involving – Involve employees in the changes. No one likes being told to do something with little say in the matter. Let employees be part of the change process to inspire buy-in. Give employees a vision they can believe in that aligns with the company’s mission–help them see themselves as a part of something bigger.
  5. Realistic – Be realistic about what’s changing and what’s not. Present them with concrete ways the changes will affect them in their everyday lives.

How does your contact center manage change? Do you have change management practices in place? How can you make successful changes happen? Let me know in the comments below.

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