Updated: Nov 1, 2019
What comes first - change a policy to change minds or change minds and change policy? Speaking from experience changing a policy if small and easily understood can be accepted easily. But. Changing a policy to drive behahiour or change minds can be a problem in the making.
Obviously there are times when both is needed. For example, to get clarity around claimable expenses you will need to change the policy and likely the procedures for expense claims so that you can channel funding to something else e.g. non taxable benefits. But in this example if you just announce a change to policy and procedures you wont get everyone on board. They need to understand why? What's in it for them? Is it going to be easier or harder to do? And a number of other things. That's the changing minds part of the equation.
Clearly it's easier just to change policies and procedures and keep moving forward. At least it sems easier. The thing is you end up spending time audting and sending back claims to be done again (time and effort by the accounts team). You need to continually explain and justify the changes (time and effort of HR and department heads, team leaders). Rumours and complaints spread through the organisation. Without the full story people do as people do, fill in the blanks with their own version of events - management are stingy, they don't care about us, we work hard we should be entitled to these things, etc. Pretty soon you have an under current that is affecting culture and creating experiences and stories that will affect every change to come - big or small - and not in a good way.
Policy and procedure changes are often an important part of supporting the change you want to achieve. Reduce resistance, increase engagement and help the change be faster, better and cheaper by spending time changing minds! How?
- Communicate up front and along the way and after the change has been implemented.
- Be clear about why the new policy is needed (from the company AND employee's perspective)
- What were the alternatives?
- What needs to be done and how you will help them transition?