and managing change
Sharing the vision:
Consulting and involving staff
Staff consultation needs to be genuine and
to occur before there is a fait accompli.
This is not only to ensure staff feel involved in a
change programme, but it is also because those at the
"front-line" (sometime called the bottom of the
organisation) may have the best ideas as well as being the
leaders of the future.
Techniques can include awareness workshops
(building on the senior management programmes), departmental
"awaydays", face-to-face interviews and structured
staff surveys. It
is vital that survey work like this is preceded by briefing
events where terms and concepts to be used are explained to
staff, and there is an opportunity for asking questions.
If the organisation has an Intranet, this
can be used as a highly effective tool for staff consultation,
with those who do not have access to a PC (e.g. catering and
security personnel) receiving paper questionnaires.
The particular circumstances of each organisation will
demand different questions, covering such areas as:
Life-style and work-home balance
Attitudes to different forms of
Aspects of working life
The working environment
Technology and communications
Impact of flexible working on the
Surveys should carry the authority of a
senior figure such as the Chief Executive or HR Director, and
assurances need to be given that the information will remain
Where possible questions should be
structured for ease of analysis, for example multiple-choice
facility for free-form comments can also be valuable; our
experience is that many respondents will put considerable effort
into suggesting ways in which the performance of the business
can be improved.
The following examples are taken from a
survey carried out in the London Head Office of a large UK
organisation, in the context of a project to attract and retain
From a personal perspective, when would
you value the following changes to your working
What is your attitude to the following
flexible working options?
How long is your daily return commute
The results here are not atypical for a city-based employer.
Flexible working hours and the ability to spend 1-2 days
per week working at home is an attractive option for many
people. From the
survey work it becomes possible to assess what factors - such as
travel-to-work distance, types of work undertaken, domestic
considerations etc - influence attitudes to taking up flexible
In this organisation an analysis of these
and a wide range of other questions, coupled with extensive and
valuable freeform comments, built a strong case for introducing
new working practices to the benefit of the business and
Building a shared agenda for change:
Piloting and "quick-wins" are
excellent ways to validate ideas for change.
Most of the concepts for new ways of working can be
piloted without incurring high costs or making irreversible
The idea of a pilot is to prove (or
disprove) that a change should be adopted.
It is vital therefore that pilots are monitored, either
by measuring relevant parameters before, during and after or by
comparison with a control group.
Often the consultation process will
identify quick wins that do not require piloting.
These can also help give the project credibility amongst
managers and others that remain sceptical.
Training for flexible working:
Apart from being helped with awareness of
information age issues, managers and staff need to learn new
skills and attitudes in order to work effectively in the new
Training requirements should come out of a
needs analysis, which should in turn result from a thorough
understanding of the new working locations, working practices,
business and communications processes and technologies.
The following list outlines some areas that
are frequently not addressed and can therefore result in
Managing a distributed workforce
Effective time management
Supporting a team
Using remote access technology.
In addition, training will often be needed
in the use of applications such as groupware, intranets,
advanced telephony and knowledge management.
for flexible working