Yves Pilet Consultancy
Employer brand management


Change management and employee engagement

In a world of constant change, organizations need to adapt. And even though in the long run change is for the better, employee engagement is lower if a personal touch to inform employees is missing. Especially in these times of social media and online communications, face-to-face meetings between management and employees is in both parties' interest.

Overlap between the personal and the corporate brand
Organizations are constantly in motion. Due to new insights, changing of the guard at the top management level or new take overs force organizations to adapt. This more than often results in change management, but at the same time requires stabilisation of employee engagement. While the overall change is the best solution for the organization and its employees in the long run, in can wreak havoc in the near future. As an employee you will be tested in the sense whether you fit the organizational culture. In essence, it means if your personal brand still need to fit the corporate brand: if there is sufficient overlap between the two, the chances are that both employee and organization can continue together. If this is not the case, separation is the logic step.

Personal interaction
In many cases regarding change management, organizations take action through frequent communications, training of managers and deploying sophisticated organization programs to a new situation as effectively as possible. Common sense tells us though that employees are directly positively affected by any change through a heartfelt personal talk with their manager. Both the employee and management can look each other straight in the eye and say: we may or may not fit together any more.

Motivation and openness
Frequent communication through internal social media, for instance with Yammer, can help to smooth negative expectations. If social media is used correctly, it's considered a powerful tool: it can stimulate change in behaviour. However, it strongly depends on two things: motivation of leaders to use social media and the degree of openness in the use of social media. To what extent this will happen within an organization is large depending on the organizational culture.

Transparency of the CEO
Employees' confidence in the CEO is a prerequisite in an overall change management track. Openness is therefore appreciated, even though it is not always considered as positive. Zappos CEO Tony Hseih not only inquired all of his staff immediately after his decision to lay off 8% of the Zappos' workforce, but also posted the message on his blog and twitter account. Everyone was able to respond to it, including the media. As a CEO Tony Hseih wanted to be as transparent as possible, even when he had to communicate a negative message. In his eyes an open discussion is the best way to deal with sensitive situations. His approach promotes a thoughtful, public way of interaction between management and their employees. It was thanks to this action that Zappos could even help some laid-off workers to a new job at other organizations.

Honesty is the best policy
Internal and external social media enables organizations to a new way to deal with communications between management and employees. But the trick is to be as open as possible, especially management. That used to be the case and is thankfully still the case today. But communications via social media alone is insufficient. Employees need face-to-face conversations, should be able to ask questions and want to be able to discuss with each other what a possible outcome will be. Ultimately, the decision will be taken by management to implement a change within the organization, but maintaining employee loyalty is sometimes more valuable than the change itself. Who else is going to execute the plans of management as soon the change is made? Motivated employees will continue to make customers loyal, but unmotivated ones who will stay with the organization will not add value.

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