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Change Management Meets Social Media

Posted By Anita van Burken, Thursday, March 17, 2016

According to Weber Shandwick research, 55% of employees who have recently gone through a change event wanted more social and digital interaction with their employer. Although not a replacement for face-to-face engagement, internal social media is becoming a more and more important component of an effective change management strategy – especially given the global and dispersed nature of today’s workforce. Regardless of the change event – from a CEO transition to an acquisition – it can shorten the distance between leaders and employees, empower employees to help influence the future state, offer camaraderie and a space to process, and drive employee behavior change.

When a global healthcare company undertook the introduction of a new operating model that impacted where and how work got done across the organization, they looked to break through the noise and demonstrate greater authenticity by moving from 1-way information cascades to a more interactive way of engaging with their stakeholders.  They needed employees to both understand the business rationale for the change and commit to a new way of working.

The company considered a wide range of tools that would help them leverage internal social media as a change management tool – from a mobile app that people managers going through launches could leverage to communicate with one another, to "Jam” sessions hosted on Yammer that allow small groups of employees around the world to ask real-time questions of project leaders in a protected environment, to employee-narrated videos explaining the "before” and "after” posted to an internal video sharing platform for liking, commenting and sharing. They also considered creating a viral, competitive internal social campaign that invited employees to commit to the new way of working by posting one thing they would do differently in the future state; they would then track commitments by region until 100% of employees had pledged their support.  Because the company has a more conservative culture, encouraging this type of openness, transparency and engagement is taking time, but early feedback suggests that employees are moving along the change continuum from resistance to acceptance and have a clear understanding of the case for change.

Companies interested in adding social to their change management quiver should take time to assess their tools, develop a risk mitigation plan, convert their leaders and track key metrics along the way. 

This post was contributed by Sarah Clayton, Executive Vice President with Weber Shandwick.  Sarah recently participated as a panel member for a presentation on Communicating Change.   This blog share some of the highlights of the role of social media in effective change communication.  More information about Sarah may be found at https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-jensen-clayton-091b86

Tags:  Change  Communication  Organizational Development  Social Media 

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