Engaging Through Change


We had a fantastic afternoon with The Employee Engagement Alliance, Peakon and guests at the Engage Through Change event yesterday (8thNovember 2018).

Our very own Emma Bridger was invited to talk about the science and psychology of change and engagement. She joined three other fantastic speakers on the day, who shared their own experiences.  

Emma talked about how focusing on building engagement is a great foundation for successful change – however we know from our #SpotlightOn research, that sometimes organisations struggle with this.

A good place to start, is to look at the ‘enablers of engagement’ and understand how your organisation is performing against them. To do this you can run a quick ‘health check’. You can complete the People Lab health check here for free, and receive a bespoke report giving you top tips and handouts on improvements that you can make.

Emma also shared some of the common myths when it comes to change, taken from the work from Leandro Herrero on viral change;

  • Myth 1 – People are naturally resistant to change – this isn’t true. Whilst neuroscience explains that humans like some predictability, if the change is communicated well and people understand it, there’s less likelihood of resistance
  • Myth 2 – People are rational and will accept logical rational decisions – change is emotional and we need to acknowledge this, so it’s important to not discard those feelings when handling change.
  • Myth 3 – Everyone needs to be involved for change to be successful – thankfully also a myth (as 100% backing is very hard to achieve!)
  • Myth 4 – Big change requires big action – actually no, you should be thinking about starting with small tangible behaviours to role model first, the rest will follow.
  • Myth 5 – The vision for change should come from the top and be cascaded down – not always the case…

Viral Change is a great model for successful change. The Edelman Trust Barometer report consistently shows us that people are more likely to trust (and therefor be influenced by) ‘People like me’. Your key influencers in an organisation, aren’t necessarily leaders, they might be PAs (who have a huge network), or the guy that always has the answers! Creating a movement can be achieved via a champions network of key influencers to bring the viral change model to life – for more info check out this case study from the Canal & River Trust.

Guest speak Martin Fitzpatrick, Internal Comms and Engagement Business Partner at B&Q brought viral change to life when sharing his case study and experience. He found that the most successful way to get employees behind change, was by:

  • acknowledging that lasting change can’t be owned by senior leaders alone
  • finding influencers and amplifying their voice
  • making it about something deeper than business – working with emotions and helping people to find their ‘purpose’ at work
  • using the power of storytelling (this really helps with the point above!)
  • and by empowering people!

We also heard from Carrie Birmingham – who gave some fantastic insight into how she dealt with complex and messy change, when she was HR Director with News UK, during a very tough time (which many of you will be very familiar with!).

A key learning from Carrie’s session was around voice and involvement – to quote, “Change is something that should be done with people, not topeople”. Involving people in conversations, collaboration and idea generation, helps them to feel part of the solution, even if the problem is not going to completely go away.

We also heard from Lucia Adams Co-Founder of 10 digital ladies, who predominantly deals with digital transformation. She believes that many organisations take the wrong approach to digital transformation – they think that digital means 90% technology and 10% human, but actually, the opposite is true! For adaptive transformation, it must be human centred, co-created and deployed in collaboration.

We also need to be able to flex and support teams with their unique problems, not take a cookie cutter approach.  And finally, we need to be agile – create momentum, not a waterfall, using small iterative changes across many teams.

So, in summary, if you are embarking on change, here are your top tips;

  • Run a health check and focus on the enablers
  • Get champions in place and give key influencers a voice
  • Identify small tangible behaviours to role model
  • Take a strength-based approach
  • Involve employees in change – and listen to their worries as well as their ideas
  • Don’t discard feelings – no matter how ridiculous they may seem to you!
  • Make it more than just business – make it real to them and connect with them on an emotional level
  • Remember you can’t take a cookie cutter approach – people will have unique problems and there will need to be unique solutions
  • Be agile – a change in direction does not mean failure
  • Focus on engaging your workforce and the rest will follow

Thank you again to Ruth Dance from the EEA and the Peakon team, who were fantastic hosts.  It was great to hear more about what Peakon do, and how their platform allows for ‘always on listening’ with real time results – very relevant when thinking how you enable employee voice during change.

If you’d like to hear more about Peakon you can contact victoria@peakon.com

For more information about how you can attend events like these, or become a member of the EEA, contact ruth@the-eea.com

And finally, if you’re about to embark on a change programme and would like to speak to us about how we can help you, you can call or email us via our ‘contact us’ page.


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