In this series of blogs, we are looking at how change management at the international corporation Metalomat (*name changed) actively drives change. To help, user experience and communications expert, Luisa Bruschinsky, has been giving us a look behind the scenes of her and her team’s work. In part one, we discovered how important change management is. Companies need to adapt their communication according to the target group so that every employee has the opportunity to identify digital challenges and orientate themselves accordingly. In this last part of the series, we will be discussing the benefits that communities offer in the Modern Workplace—both for the company and its employees.
Creating usage scenarios and learning events results in a comprehensive library of support and materials for employees that should quickly answer the majority of questions that come up during the working day. In principle, anyway. In reality however, a short time after such a reference is created, only very few employees will actually refer to it, and everything that isn’t regularly used is quickly forgotten. It is therefore important to regularly refer to these resources.
This is exactly the reason Metalomat has established Modern Workplace communities. The members of these communities serve as contacts when colleagues have questions about anything Modern Workplace and actively promote usage scenarios, learning events and other materials and events. It’s voluntary to take part and participation must be in line with pre-defined policies (e.g. an affinity with IT, interest in innovations). Ideally, there are community reps at every company location wo can answer employees questions and offer support. There are currently two groups: expert and assistant communities. The community reps receive special training and act as an IT mouthpiece in the individual departments. The greatest benefit is the style of language used—no unnecessary technical details, but a focus on the essentials.
The expert community is aimed at the more experienced users who are interested in working with technical applications and dealing with changes. Experts should enjoy trying out technical innovations and sharing their knowledge with colleagues. They are the first people in the company to benefit from new product releases and features and also serve as a pilot group when new things are to be introduced. It is therefore particularly important that experts are committed and happy to give detailed, constructive feedback. Only in this way can processes and documents be improved before being rolled out to all employees.
Metalomat has taken several steps to ensure quality. At the start of the programme, for example in countries with not so many experts and not a great awareness of the community or the Modern Workplace and its possibilities, members of the user experience team take on the mantle of experts. It’s important that these people are aware of the country’s language and culture. As soon as enough employees are interested in joining the community, on-site experts take over from the user experience team.
There is a risk that employees only want to be part of the expert community to get access to new product releases and be part of pilot groups without being interested in fulfilling their other obligations. To mitigate this risk, Metalomat has introduced an onboarding programme. During an introductory event, it is made clear to all interested parties how important their role is and that they should actively participate in order to promote the Modern Workplace and answer any questions about the topic within their team and, if applicable, at their location. There are also regular online sessions in which experts can take part. The frequency and format of these sessions depends on the size of the company, but at Metalomat, the members of the expert community meet every four weeks and this is when the user experience team introduce new usage scenarios and their solutions and answers any questions. Experts are then charged with sharing this information with their team. The community’s detailed and constructive feedback during test phases helps the IT department with the quality of employee communication content that is sent out after the pilot phase.
Alongside the experts, there is also a community for assistants. This target group is particularly important as they can be used as a multiplier. Assistants have direct contact with the managers and are approached first in case of issues. They can share their knowledge when they find out about new product releases and features early on. Unlike the expert community, the assistants do not take part in pilots. Instead, their focus is on spreading the word about materials and possibilities that Modern Workplace IT has to offer.
As we saw in part one of this blog, Metalomat pays particular heed not only the content of communication, but how it is communicated as well. As every employee receives a mountain of e-mails every day in normal circumstances, the user experience team does what they can to not overwhelm the end users with even more. An exception to this is the weekly IT e-mail, but even this is sent out every week at the same time so that everyone is ready for it.
Communication with the communities is exclusively via their collaboration platforms, for example Microsoft Teams, where teams and different channels on topics such as Q&As, test phase feedback and “what have I learned today” are created. In this way it is easier to maintain an overview of the current topics, which also simplifies communication management. In addition, team members can be addressed directly using the @ feature.
The most crucial part of changes is communicating them. Employees will be more prepared to accept them if they have received some information beforehand and are aware of the impact they will have on them personally. Regular communication is also important throughout the process to minimise the rise of uncertainty. Companies shouldn’t shy away from announcing that a process will take longer than expected. Otherwise they create the impressions that the change process isn’t being driven forward because it isn’t that important. Regular feedback from both sides is the key to successful change management.
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