Gain employee insights: The key element of organizational change management | HCLTech

Employee Insights for OCM
February 28, 2022

This year’s “Great Resignation” has highlighted the importance of employee-employer dialogue. When this dialogue is missing, or when it’s one-way or of low quality, employees are less likely to make the changes necessary for their organization to stay dynamic and growing, and more likely to look afield. In such situations, organizational change management (OCM) isn’t just a high-minded goal; it’s a necessity. Companies must re-write – or more accurately, co-author – their relationships with their people. This requires a successful change. 

Effective OCM practices require a robust front-end employee insights to inform and inspire the process. An OCM program that fails to accurately absorb the current employee reality risks failure or limited adoption. Conversely, any employee insights work that cannot follow through with implications and actions can just foster a more jaded and disconnected workforce. Hence, anyone seeking to improve employee experience needs both.

Effective employee insights work for OCM should start by getting a solid grasp on the present state.

Successful employee insights efforts for OCM should start by getting a solid grasp on the present state. What are your employees doing currently? What are their thoughts and feelings?

Your impulse here might be to understand the same using a survey, fielding it with as many people as you can. But launching such an inquiry with a survey has the following drawbacks:

  • Only true believers apply – A survey fielded with a voluntary response is built on biases. Often, the only people who are motivated to respond are those who are (still) committed to the enterprise; they want to be heard; they have optimism. What about those who don’t care enough to respond, the silent majority?
  • If you ask a box of questions– People are tempted to make surveys easy to complete by filling them with close-ended questions with multiple-choice answers. But if you do this, you could waste the opportunity to find out something you don’t already know. If you ask a box of questions, you get a box of answers. What if you’re not asking the right questions? What if you haven’t included all the right answers? 
  • Promising anonymity has a price – If the survey is anonymous, you might miss the opportunity to grasp the different realities for different segments of your people. You could miss out on identifying who your change agent partners might be.

So, what’s a better way?  Some companies have great success by beginning with small discussion groups, structured to be open for delivering the insights you never saw coming. It may be worthwhile to engage with a third-party moderator who has no established relationships with your employees, someone has no skin in the game to facilitate this.  A couple of best-practices tips for the same:

  • Structure: It’s best to structure these by (sub)organization so that no one is in the same group as their manager or subordinate. 
  • Number: Keep the numbers for each small – 5-7 people – so that no one can just sit back and choose to opt out.  This also allows you to make sure that you’ve included all the different roles and organizations and even geographic locations of your company. 
  • Pre-work: Give people a short pre-work assignment so they have something to be accountable to when they’re in the room, even if the room is virtual.
  • Duration: Do not extend these OCM programs beyond 30-45 minutes.

Once you’ve completed these – and you may need a few dozen to cover all your employee groups in all your locations – you’ll have a good idea of your people’s present-state reality, and what your issues are, which might have eluded you if you had started with a survey.

And then what? As you move through these sessions, a finite set of insights and themes will have bubbled up, hopefully appearing multiple times. This is where you can develop that survey instrument to confirm that these hypotheses hold up across an even larger population.  This is especially important for senior management to get on board with your mission. They might otherwise observe, “You only talked to 75 people, so how do I know the observations are really true?”

Armed with these current-state insights, you are ready to define success in terms of – What are we trying to achieve? What will the new reality look and feel like?

Now you’re prepared to begin your OCM project in earnest, with an employee user who feels listened to, is more open to your solutions, and is more likely to adopt them.  And you’re more likely to succeed.


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