Building internal communities to support change

By Janneke van Overbruggen

The increasingly fast-paced nature of society means that organizations need to adapt to keep up with the demands from both their customers and their employees.

Change can naturally make people feel nervous so in order for a change management programme to be successful, organizations need to think carefully about implementation. It is crucial that companies engage their staff during this transitional stage and one way to do this is to encourage internal communities within the business.

Here at Colt, we are currently going through a period of structural change, as we become a next generation services provider. Our operations and workforce are spread across multiple regions, 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 locations.

We have appointed ‘ambassadors’ to support the local teams during this period of change and promote the company’s values, the end goal being to create a community feeling in each of our regional offices. The ambassadors are therefore 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.

We also felt that learning together as a company would be a good way to build on the ambassador scheme so we combined this with a learning programme. Colt is a regular participator in the Learning at Work initiative, run by Campaign for Learning. We participated in 2012 and 2013, but this year we decided to extend it to a month. Whereas in the past, activities tended to be centered around stimulating a learning culture, this year the programme was structured to support organizational 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 subjects such as 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 center tour for secondary school pupils, to business skills workshops and gardening. Our reasoning was that when you volunteer as a team you learn from it, while at the same time helping your local 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. One hundred children and young people were inspired and supported via 1,140 volunteering hours throughout June through 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 in 2015.

The time we have invested in learning and development this year, as well as our initiative to build internal communities, 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 organization. So if you have a need to implement change within your business, what are you waiting for?

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