Managing change in an unpredictable world
The past two years have become a landmark of great conflict, challenge and change. Brexit, COVID-19, COP26 and the drive of technology combined to have a near universal impact on the way we think, live and work. Trials and tribulations have been brought to the fore of our workplaces, with a rapid and ongoing need to respond and adapt the agenda for most. We’ve not only had to rethink our platforms, products and services, but our employees are changing too: justice is demanded across the board for climate change, social movements, flexible working and mental health.
If change is the echoing call of the past two years – then how are our leaders responding to this? CIPD says not well: failure to deliver change management in organisations is as high as 70%. It’s hard to run alongside a train going at an increasingly accelerated pace if you don’t have the stamina to do so. People train for years to run marathons; should we not take the same approach for our organisations? Change will always happen but it’s how we manage its impact that counts.
Building an inclusive culture with TSB Bank
TSB Bank is a national retail bank with over 6,000 employees. A need for change was recognised and advocated for by its Head of Employee Relations, Angela Gibson. Tired of the traditional grievance procedures and clunky, inaccessible policies, TSB’s ordinary approach to dealing with complaints and concerns wasn’t in line with its values of becoming a truly inclusive workplace. It was time for change – but strategic, engaged and dedicated change.
The bank collaborated exclusively with The TCM Group to make the leap towards a people-centred resolution process that reflected the changing needs of its staff. An overarching ‘Do What Matters’ initiative set the precedent for the scale and scope of change that TSB wished to implement throughout the organisation. Their management of conflict moved away from divisive formal policies towards a Resolution Framework: a legally compliant, collaborative and robust system for resolving complaints fairly and informally through open, honest dialogue, facilitated conversations and mediation.
“We wanted to flip the traditional procedural mechanisms on their head. We wanted to create policies that empowered, invited and encouraged people to display the behaviours that we wanted within our organisation.”
Angela Gibson, Head of Employee Relations at TSB Bank
Steps to success
TSB Bank wasn’t going to be a part of the 70%. Effective change management provides conceptual scaffolding for people, process and policies: without a strong foundation, ideas have no support to become a lasting reality.
Carving the appropriate path to resolution for TSB required extensive internal data analysis. Key issues were targeted here, allowing for specific solutions to be designed. Surveys revealed that low numbers of grievances were due to disengaged and fearful staff and an inordinate amount of HR and management time spent on resolving grievances through formal processes. In 2019, for example, the total of 68 grievances raised took an average of 37 days to conclude.
With this understanding of the company climate, supported by real data, TSB was able to finetune the framework, process and supporting engagement materials for a new way that was proven to work for its people and principles.
A business case was presented to TSB’s Executive Committee, with early involvement from unions to ensure stakeholder engagement from the outset. The Resolution Framework’s project group was made up of managers, an employee forum of 125 colleagues, and a group of HR managers and union representatives. This building of trust, reaching across every sector of TSB, showed a real commitment to managing change effectively and supportively.
Despite the emergence of the pandemic, the Employee Relations team pressed on to ensure the initiative’s successful implementation. Adapting to the movement towards hybrid working and a reliance on technology, they developed an interactive, digital toolkit to inform colleagues of the key stages of the framework and how they would be supported throughout the new process.
Change doesn’t have to happen all at once. Since initial adoption, they aim to continue building in bite-sized chunks to work towards that goal of total inclusivity. Honing on in the importance of communication, compassion and collaboration, TSB shows that anything is possible if managed with planning, engagement and commitment to the cause.
Leaders really can be the heroes in the storm of climate crises, global pandemics and technological advancement. It’s within their hands to question the power that lies within them, disrupt the status quo and redesign the vision of the future. Responding and recognising that in conflict and challenge, there’s an opportunity for real, tangible change. Let’s manage it well.
How to manage change in your own workplace
Forbes has created a checklist for organisations to facilitate change management in mergers, acquisitions, or unexpected events.
Recognise the change
Self-awareness through communication is a simple but crucial step to managing change. Having discussions with managers on the front lines to understand and translate what is happening and why can help to ease early anxieties and develop first steps towards change.
Communicate the change
Leaders and managers must be able to communicate the reality of the change. Their wider teams should know what is going on at every stage, including actions, discussions and changes. Reinforcing messaging will help to build trust and engagement.
Lead the change
Being introspective rather than authoritative is key to navigating change as smoothly as possible. If leaders are prepared to manage change, then the experiences of employees, stakeholders and customers will be all the better for it.
Much like Angela’s strategic and dialogic direction of TSB’s resolution initiative, the formula for effective change management is threefold: recognition, communication and leadership.
Robyn Marsh: Senior Communications Executive at The TCM Group