Change Management for Implementing an Enterprise Social Network in Your Organization

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Photo Change Management for Implementing an Enterprise Social Network in Your Organization

Implementing a collaboration and communication tool as useful as an Enterprise Social Network entails a certain change of mentality and organizational culture. And all change must be managed in order to display all of its transformation potential. 

Managing change consists of utilizing a method of maps, indicating the path to the desired goal. One of the most simple and easy methods based in the principles of Change Leadership developed by John Kotter, consultant and professor at the Harvard Business School.

This author investigated change processes in a multitude of organizations of all sizes, and he identified the phases, challenges, the most common errors and main factors of success in organizational change processes. 

Kotter presented a very practical model of change, that consists of eight steps every organization should cover in order to manage any change in an effective manner. 

1. Create a sense of urgency.

This consists of making the people involved to see that change is necessary, important and positive. What will happen with our organization in the near future, if we do not implement an Enterprise Social Network now, in an era in which there is a progressive and rapid digitization of all sectors? Don’t just give a mere rational explication, because people don’t change with rational arguments. Rather, make them see and feel the need of change. In order to be effective, the message should include a 20% sense of negativity (the consequences of not changing, such as losing competitiveness as an organization, or becoming obsolete as professionals). And an 80% sense of positivity (important consequences and the positives of change, including more effective communication, or development posed to the people involved to acquire digital skills, etc.).

2. Form a powerful team that leads change.

Identify the leaders of change within the organization, individuals who understand the importance of change and are committed to the process. These individuals have talent to work in a team in an effective way, monitoring the initiative, defining strategies to achieve the objectives of change, communicate these strategies, etc.

3. Create a vision for change.

Is not enough explaining the objectives of change verbally or textually; the individuals involved need a clear vision of how the organization will be in the future once the change is made, so that the vision takes the entire organization to paddle in the same direction. Unfortunately, many people who try to lead a change underestimate the importance of creating a shared vision. To be effective, the vision to be achieved with the change must be clear, feasible, practical, useful from the point of view of the action and decision making, and especially easy to communicate.

4. Communicate the vision.

Communication is one of the critical questions for the success of a change process. Any lack of communication will be filled with rumors from the hallway, so that it is important to define a communication strategy that takes into account the characteristics of different audiences, and the different messages for the same, like a scheduled plan of who will communicate what, when and in what way. Communication includes listening and conversing in a multi-directional manner, not just hierarchical communication going from the top to the bottom. And above all, don’t forget that the leaders communicates the vision primarily by example.

5. Train the individuals involved in the change so that they can perform the objective.

Another great error of change processes is not giving tools to the individuals who, ultimately, will make the vision a reality. It is so important to identify what technical knowledge, skills and attitudes the individuals involved need to develop, and produce a training plan. What new skills will we need and how are we going to develop them?

6. Achieve short-term gains.

For a process of change to be successful, one must combine short-term perspectives with the long run. You have to design different short-term achievements, that maintain the motivation of the individuals involved in the change, and at the same time monitor the evolution of the process, and flexibly make adjustments.

7. Persist and do not quit.

Not all changes are successful instantly and to avoid a progressive loss of interest from those involved, avoid rigid plans or disregard the signs that change is not occurring as expected. Instead of this, review the short-term achievements, make the necessary changes and maintain in everyone’s mind the vision and the motives of change.

8. Anchor the change in the culture of the organization.

The values and culture of an organization become evident in daily practices, thus the organization has to be coherent with the objectives of change (for example, use performance indicators associated with variable change, or reward the new behaviors associated with the change). Only in this way will they be encouraged and ingrained behaviors, values and mentality allowing the process of change.

The processes of organizational change, as common in today’s organizations to adapt to their environment or take advantage of new opportunities, can generate resistance miss out on a great part of its potential if they are not managed by taking into account the emotions and communication of the individuals involved.

Implementing an Enterprise Social Network is an opportunity of gold to make a better, high impact, on collaboration and communication within an organization. Thus it is so important to use a practical and concrete method to manage the change, in order to realize the full potential of this transformative tool.

Raúl González García (@Conektio) is a certified Coach (ICF) and MA in Labor Sciences and Organization from Mälardalen University (Sweden), specializing in participation, sociology of the organization and leadership based on coaching. He has collaborated as a coach and trainer in organizations in different countries, and he authors the blog Conektio, a space in permanent research process about the way coaching and other trends are transforming learning and collaboration in organizations.

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