In so many personal and professional ways, COVID has caused a global change that has impacted the way that organizations conduct business and manage their human capital. Business plans needed to pivot. New technologies were introduced to support remote teams. Learning strategies were forced to pursue alternative modalities. Digital and culture transformation are no longer an option, but a strategy to support business resiliency and continuity.
If we’re being honest with ourselves, most transformational initiatives have proven to be failures. With the transition to a hybrid culture, failure is no longer an option and change is coming whether we like it or not. It’s up to leadership investment to support transformation efforts and bring their culture in line with the future of their organization. And it’s up to L&D to support their organization to successfully navigate change with the skills and tools they need.
As people return to a hybrid workforce, many organizations are taking this opportunity to rethink, reorganize, and rebuild their culture the way they want it: in the form of an organizational hybrid culture. In this article, we’re shining a light on the benefits and challenges facing L&D professionals, their leaders, managers, and their entire organization. Let’s look at why transformation activities fail and how to mitigate issues, even through the added challenge of managing change in a hybrid organizational model.
Hybrid Culture Change Requires All Hands
When you launch a change initiative with an aim to embrace a hybrid culture, you need to ensure that you’ve included every stakeholder in the plan. When you leave groups out of the discussion, you’re leaving the door open to misinterpretation and acrimony. Your plan should include a strong strategy behind why the organization needs to evolve. When working in a hybrid culture, the need to plan increases several-fold due to a variety of new challenges facing remote workers. With staggered schedules, it may be difficult to determine when to encourage face-to-face meetings and when to do virtual meetings. Not all stakeholders may be in the same place at the same time. Your plan will depend upon gathering together people at key moments in the process to gauge buy-in, hear feedback, and drive new ideas forward. In other words, you need a plan to make the plan. Start by selecting a change leader to herald the process and to work with stakeholders to accommodate their varying schedules. Be sure to include leadership in these discussions and encourage them to take a guiding, coaching role through the development of a change management strategy and plan.
Communication Begins at the Top
Communication plans are almost as critical as the change itself. This is because providing transparency around your change plan is fundamental to your overall company culture. Lack of communication breeds uncertainty and employees will feel left to fend for themselves in the face of stark changes. Simple things like understanding how to use a new piece of technology are easily communicated through helper videos, FAQs, and short explainer webinars or virtual meetings. Other things are more complex to communicate, which is why leadership needs to take a strong role in providing continuous updates to peers and team members. Quarterly town halls aren’t going to be enough and leaders should build a communication plan that provides greater transparency.
Leadership Needs to Listen
Your team needs to be heard if they’re going to feel empowered. Gallup research indicates that only 30% of employees feel as though their opinions matter. It is therefore important to involve the entire organization throughout the planning process. Involve and listen to key stakeholders, including key executives, project sponsors, subject matter experts, process owners, business unit leaders, and team members. Everyone has unique skills and perspectives that can enrich the strategy and uncover efficiencies in the plan implementation. This is also the right time to learn how hybrid culture is affecting your team: from dealing with a manageable work/life balance to needing extra time to provide family care and support, the list of challenges facing the hybrid workforce are many.
Align Execution With Transparency
Once your strategy is in place and your plan is underway, it’s now the job of your change team to execute on the timeline. This is where having benchmarks and KPIs is an invaluable tool for agents of change. By demonstrating that you’re operating on plan and on time, you can build confidence in employees and momentum toward the end goal. For many organizations, change initiatives are treated like projects, complete with project managers and leveraging project management tools such as Jira to measure and track progress. In this way, all stakeholders understand their responsibilities and projects can stay on track.
Throughout the whole process of evolving to a hybrid culture, your leaders need to be supported through training in critical skills and leadership development. L&D is tasked with ensuring that leaders are prepared for the new challenges of dealing with varied schedules, high emotions, and personal and professional concerns of their entire workforce. A leader that can demonstrate empathy and active listening skills is the foundation of any change management project.
Contact us for more information on how we can work together to bring tried-and-true learning solutions for your leadership needs. As well, we can build a learning program that addresses your unique change management needs for pivoting toward a hybrid culture.