Employee Involvement During Periods of Change
It is a well-known fact that making changes in the workplace can be hard. Debbie Downer refuses to use the technology. Negative Ned says it doesn’t work. Perfectionist Pat is frustrated with the process. Were Debbie, Ned or Pat involved in the decision to get new technology? If the answer is no, you’re more than likely going to fall into an unsuccessful change implementation process (and probably going to lose a lot of money along the way!). Here are some quick tips, both from first-hand experience as well as Human Resources professionals, for you to utilize if you’re thinking about introducing a new workflow or tool in your agency.
First and foremost, communication with employees is essential. If you’re able to involve employees early on, then you will likely have a more successful outcome. Employees feel validated and appreciated when they are asked for their opinions and when their feedback is heard. I have witnessed first-hand the environment that is created when the agency leaders make a decision without seeking input from the “do-ers”. It breeds a toxic environment and could lead to much bigger issues of employee turnover or E&O risk due to inconsistencies in employee workflows.
When communicating with employees, leaders should remember to share the reasons for their decisions and should be open to listening to feedback. It doesn’t mean you have to change your mind if employees disagree, but sometimes skeptics bring up very valid points! (I formerly worked for a Fortune 200 CEO who told me to always share my ideas with the naysayers because if I only took it to the nice people who agreed with me, I would never see improvements to my work. Very good advice.)
Communicate early and often. Keep employees in the loop on the stages of the project and always include what is happening and why it is happening. It is important to recognize the key stakeholders along the way. If you are implementing a new agency management system, who are the key users of the new system? Employees need time to think about the change and accept it before they can implement and adopt.
Once you’ve figured out a successful means of communicating to employees, stop and look in the mirror. Have you fully committed to the change and adopting the new workflows or technology? It is one thing to be an effective leader of change, it is another thing to adopt it yourself and create and maintain a sustainable future. If you move to a new agency management system because of enhanced reporting requirements, then it will be key to actually use the new reporting requirements and share the usage and benefit with employees.
Change is never easy, but it is mandatory in order to remain competitive in today’s environment. There are solutions for insurance professionals and no tool is “one size fits all”. It is important to have a clear business plan and goal and then find the parts to help make it happen. Most importantly, leaders must remember that once they find the right solution to implement into the business it needs to be clearly communicated to employees and key stakeholders must be involved in the process. It’s time to embrace change and technology with a new collaborative attitude!