The bank’s new operating model would affect jobs throughout the operations organization. Careful attention to organizational change management (OCM) became essential to measuring the impacts of changes at the bank and to overseeing a sensitive, responsive program of communications and involvement.
For team members focused on implementing new processes and systems, overlooking matters of employee engagement is a natural hazard. Nonetheless, it’s the employees who carry out the envisioned changes and ensure success. OCM focuses on behind-the-scenes enablement of profound change by enlisting the support of stakeholders, giving them a voice and sharing information consistently.
OCM typically begins when new initiatives are first envisioned, with an assessment of change readiness as the usual starting point. Because the bank already had a fast-paced change initiative underway, it jumped forward to assessing the impact of change as the first step. Through discovery, interviews and analysis, the change impact assessment helped leaders understand how stakeholders would be affected by the initiative and suggested ways to anticipate and address concerns.
Using results of the assessment, the OCM team formulated a messaging grid to ensure consistent communications throughout the transformation and beyond. This technique provided a common vocabulary for sharing information about coming changes to processes, jobs and systems. A communications plan mapped out key messages and timing.
The OCM team established a change-adoption dashboard to monitor and measure the uptake of change messages. Measuring progress toward adoption helped the team track and accelerate transition to the new target state of “business as usual” and helped sustain change over time.
For every change, a champion
An essential team of change champions operated at the forefront of the OCM efforts. Champions, enlisted from all levels of the organization, contributed to the OCM efforts in three ways:
- They were a credible source of information about the change initiative for their fellow employees and communicated with employee stakeholders in an honest, peer-to-peer exchange.
- They provided feedback about how the change initiative was perceived throughout the organization. Transparent communications back to leaders – even to share negative responses to the program – were highly valued.
- They functioned as a focus group for the transformation; as the first to hear sensitive messages, they gave honest opinions about how stakeholders would respond. As such, change champions became trusted advisers to change leaders.
It’s no simple matter to draft a volunteer crew of change champions. From a pool of applicants, champions were selected for their capacity to influence peers. Then they were trained to field stakeholder questions about the initiative in a consistent way and were equipped with tools and information to foster trust. Change champions knew it was an honor to support the transformation that would ultimately take their organization from a successful regional bank to an agile, resilient national financial institution.
OCM efforts paid dividends throughout the initiative by shaping communications, but OCM also continues to contribute to sustaining change solutions once they’re operational. Organizations often focus on OCM as they plan and implement transformations. As an ongoing discipline however, OCM sets transformed organizations on a path of continued success. Through their change initiative, this bank’s leaders realized the value of establishing a permanent change management group.
OCM is now part of the bank’s routine operations. It has become an essential component of the bank’s commitment to the agile, scalable and resilient operations that deliver high-touch financial services, to the delight of customers. Moreover, OCM will remain a presence to keep sweeping changes on track.