Your team has put together tons of spreadsheets and power points and numbers that all make sense and that justify the decision. However, the desired benefits of the Global Business Services strategy didn’t come out as you expected. What happened? Why was the transition so painful? Why didn’t the anticipated benefits fully realize? Why did so many knowledgeable resources leave during the transition, causing quality and delivery problems? Why?…why?…why?
Obviously, there is no single reason to explain all of these challenges. However, a common culprit that often makes it to the top of everyone’s lessons learned list is the need to better prepare your team for change. In my experience, you just can’t spend enough time preparing for the significant change your team will encounter as you implement your GBS strategy and try to leverage the benefits of global talent.
Change Management is oftentimes thought about late in the project timeline. It is placed on the HR to-do list when the contract is complete and moved to the implementation phase of the project. Granted, one needs to manage the sensitivity of prematurely communicating a potential change to an organization, as this could cause unnecessary risk to the day-to-day business operations by distracting employees with something that may not occur. However, waiting too long or communicating poorly also poses a business risk, as this can lead to confusion and delays that will have a negative impact on the final outcome of the project.
While you and your executive leadership team have had time to process the significant change you will take your company through, the impacted employees have no clue. Think about the process you went through in your own mind when you decided to move down this direction. So too will you need to give your team time to process the change they will encounter. That is not to say that you need to provide unlimited time to get total buy in. That won’t happen. However, you need to allow enough time for the employees to process the change and therefore be an integral part of minimizing operational risk to the business.
For example, Dr. Kubler-Ross, best known for her influential work on the stages of grief, describes the 7 emotional phases people go through during change. The phases are immobilization, denial, anger, negotiations, depression, exploration and acceptance. While everyone processes change differently, the fact of the matter is we all need processing time.
Being sensitive to this processing time is critical and should be built into your GBS implementation timeline. Recognizing this will help you determine the best time to notify the “evangelists” – your key resources in this transition period, those team members who are subject matter experts and have the loyalty of their team. These team members are critical because they will help you communicate the message and secure buy-in from the broader team. Remember, even these “evangelists” need time to process the change.
While every situation is different, one aspect of implementing your GBS strategy remains constant. That is the importance of focusing on the key drivers of change management and ensuring you have given them the appropriate attention and focus. Recognizing this, being sensitive to this and communicating the importance of this from start to finish will be key to the success of your GBS strategy. One can never spend too much time on the human impact of the change your organization will go through.
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