A little while ago, in order to fund my travels, I was working casually in a hospitality job. I was a receptionist and I enjoyed the work. It wasn’t very challenging, but it was fun to meet people from all over the world. My boss was also really nice and I got along very well with my co-workers. Everybody enjoyed working there and people kept telling me that I should try to stay long-term. Most agreed that this was quite possibly the best job they ever had.
And then everything changed. Well, actually, not quite. It was just a minor change project. The computer system was ported over to new servers to better communicate with the rest of the offices all over the country. It was a reasonable change, but a badly designed one. For you see, the management completely forgot about the importance of communication in change projects.
They simply changed the system without telling anybody about it beforehand. We showed up to work one day and everything was different. Or rather, a few minor things were different, but it felt completely different. And that changed the atmosphere significantly. Instead of focusing on the positive sides of the job as before, the people working there suddenly only saw all the negatives, the disadvantages, the things that had bothered them all along, but which they now suddenly minded very much. From one day to the next, working there wasn’t fun anymore, it was a chore. Which nobody enjoyed. And all because of a failure of communication.
I’ve seen the changes that were made and compared to most change projects, they truly were minor. But even though, they were enough to tear the company asunder and cause several people to quit within a few weeks of the change. And many more to show up without caring about their work at all. I’ve long believed that communication in change projects is vitally important. After all, it makes perfect sense for various reasons to involve the people affected by the change. But I never really understood the importance of communication on such a basic level until I had seen this situation. It’s a perfect example of why it is so important to communicate with staff when making changes and why everyone needs to get involved in it. The new computer system might be slightly better than the old one – from a corporate viewpoint – but the loss of good and qualified employees was surely too high a price to pay.
So when you are starting to make changes in your company, make sure to involve staff or at least tell them about it. Not only will they thank you for it, you will also profit.