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Why you need to collect employee feedback during change
Blog - Didier Elzinga, author profile

Didier Elzinga

Founder & CEO, Culture Amp

@didierelzinga

In the world we live in today change is inevitable. Companies are changing faster and organizations are looking for ways to help their people adapt and be more resilient.

The heart of effective change management is regular communication. Most organizations understand the importance of consistently communicating where you're at, where you're going and how you're going to get there. But many companies forget that an important part of communication is listening.

While organizations monitor their change progress through reports and updates, feedback is often overlooked. I’m now seeing more organizations recognizing how important it is to monitor their progress through employee feedback. This feedback then helps them to design and drive a more agile and responsive change program.

It raises an interesting question. If you don’t listen to your people during a change program, are you being negligent?

Communication needs to be a loop

Change management is really hard. All change practitioners know how important it is to take people on a journey through communication - but it should be a two-way street. People can become disconnected or misunderstand what’s going on if they’re just being blasted with updates. That’s why employee feedback is also important – it turns that communication into a loop.

Without closing that loop, your change management program may take longer, be harder to implement, cost more money or be more complicated than you’d hoped for. Organizations that try to run a change program without ongoing feedback are just stacking the deck against themselves.

Change is a long journey

In the change management process, everybody moves at a different pace. Some people get it straight away and leap in, while others are worried and take a little more time. Employee feedback is a way to monitor your progress and take everyone on that journey with you.

Feedback allows you to listen to how people are feeling and assess what type of communication different parts of the organization need to keep moving along. It’s hugely important in speeding up the learning process so communication is effective.

Senior leaders have often been on the change journey for a long period of time. If you’re shifting strategy or doing a merger or acquisition, your senior leaders may already be 18 months into the project before the knowledge is made public. From this position, it can be easy to assume that everyone else has this knowledge and understanding.

Regardless of how compelling your change case is, people need time to get on board. You can understand and speed up their journey by listening to how they’re feeling and addressing those concerns. How frequently you need to get employee feedback over this period really depends on the degree of change your organization is experiencing and how quickly you can act on feedback.

Employee feedback can drive the change

Employee feedback will not only help your people cope with change, but can also drive the design of your change program. One of our customers, SendGrid, used Culture Amp to collect employee feedback as they went through a leadership transition. They launched a survey just before their new CEO started. He was then able to use that employee feedback to help frame his change program and communications. He listened to what people wanted him to focus on, added his own experience, and then communicated his priorities. The feedback not only made their change program successful, it actually drove the change.

The key to communicating through change is to give people the tools to stop, reflect, collect and share ideas. That can be very powerful and gives leaders the information they need to lead for a change. Without closing the loop on that feedback, your change management program is unlikely to be successful. For me, that’s why any management team who fails to listen to their people through change is negligent.

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