Learning to change
Janneke Van Overbruggen
Mon Aug 11, 2014 3:28 PM
Change can be disturbing – but staff can be taught to cope with it more effectively. Janneke Van Overbruggen explains how you can help your employees learn to change
Businesses today need to reflect the increasingly fast-paced nature of society if they want to remain competitive. As a result, organisations all over the world have to adapt their business to bring in an era of change. However, in order for employees to be supportive of a change management programme, it is vital that companies pay close attention to how they engage their staff during this transitional stage.
One way to do this is to use a learning programme to engage your workforce and drive cultural change across the business. Here at Colt, we are currently going through a period of structural change as we move from a pure play telco to a next generation services provider. Our operations and workforce are spread across multiple regions in Europe, including shared services in India, Barcelona and Romania, so we had to evaluate our change management processes to ensure that they would work across all regions.
We decided to embark upon a learning and community building programme which would play an important role in supporting the team to embrace change. We are regular participators in the Learning at Work initiative, run by Campaign for Learning; we grew the initiative from a successful Learning at Work week in 2012, to another complete Learning at Work week last year, but this year we decided to extend it to a month. Whereas in the past, activities tended to be centred around stimulating a learning culture, this year the programme was structured to support organisational change.
We introduced the ‘Learning and Communities Month’ in June this year, where everyone was invited to join learning sessions focused on essential knowledge that could help us grow as individuals while supporting our intent to become an amazing business. These included sessions on “changing mindsets”, developing business relevant skills, the evolution of specific parts of our business, and different aspects of our corporate strategy.
Giving back to the local community was also an important part of this initiative and employees were encouraged to participate in volunteering opportunities with their chosen local charities. These activities ranged from a data centre tour for secondary school pupils, to business skills workshops and gardening. Our reasoning behind this was that when you volunteer as a team - refurbishing a charity’s playground or giving consultancy to a charity’s managing staff - you learn from it, while at the same time helping your local community.
Getting out into the community
The results to date have been excellent. Over 1,000 employees in 12 countries registered for one of the events, receiving more than 2,800 hours of learning. 100 children and young people were inspired and supported via 1,140 volunteering hours during the 30 days of June through establishing 230 learning sessions and charitable events. Feedback from our staff has been exceptionally positive and we intend to build on this platform and run a similar programme next year.
However, whilst specific activities like a learning day, week or month can go a long way to helping drive change within an organisation and motivating staff, if you really want to have an impact then you have ensure a wider engagement programme is also in place. At Colt, we have appointed ‘ambassadors’ to support the local teams during this period of change and promote the company’s values. They are a powerful tool for us; they allow us to get real-time feedback from our employees, while also helping drive engagement; an invaluable two-way channel.
The time we have invested in learning and development this year will enable future success for our business and has helped create a platform from which to grow. What we applied across our European footprint could be implemented in any other large services-based organisation. So, if you have a need to implement change within your business, what are you waiting for?
Janneke Van Overbruggen is the manager of Learning Solutions at Colt Technology Services