In 2020, planned and unplanned change has been at the forefront of many companies. An estimated 70 percent of change efforts fail outright, usually due to employee resistance, making employee buy-in paramount when it comes to organizational change.
With user-centricity being the foundation of user experience (UX), organizations should consider applying the core principles of UX to their organizational change strategies to ensure that any directives are aligned with employees.
“I am not the user”
The core of UX work stems from the baseline assumption that we are different from our users, as it’s all too easy to fall into the false-consensus trap. Applied to design, this is the idea that because we interact a certain way with an interface, we assume other users would do the same. In UX, designers are trained to actively reject taking these mental shortcuts, try to remove themselves from the equation and focus solely on the user.
By the same token, when it comes to organizational change, it’s human-nature for leadership to fall into this trap and mistakenly assume their employees feel as they do. This disparity between what leaders assume their employees feel and what employees actually feel is referred to as the perception gap and can have significant impact on both a company’s culture and bottom line.
When dealing with organizational change, executives should seek to minimize the perception gap by actively and objectively determining the needs of their employees.
Making the Rational and Emotional Case Together
When it comes to UX, there is a strong emphasis on ensuring your user “experiences delight” while using your product. Accounting for the affective dimension of experience is crucial for strong design as well as the success of a product.
Similarly, businesses undergoing organizational change should understand that there are both quantitative and qualitative cases to be made for their planned course of action. Leaders can underestimate the impact of the more emotional side of organizational change when it comes to ensuring employee buy-in and want to solely rely on facts and statistics. If employees are aligned with both the logic and the rationale behind proposed adjustments, they are more likely to work to ensure that those adjustments are implemented effectively.
Assess and Adapt
One of the final tenets of UX design is user-testing and iterating. User testing can provide valuable insights as to how users are actually using the product, and when designers should go back to the drawing board and adapt. While there is a tendency to want to believe that you’ve fully solved the problem and move on, the user-testing process is ultimately beneficial in both improving the current product while simultaneously providing necessary information for future products.
In a similar fashion, organizations involved in transformation efforts frequently fail to measure their successes before moving on. Stakeholders are ready to claim the transformation a win, and don’t often take the time to figure out what is actually working and potentially pivot. However, acknowledging mistakes and shortcomings not only helps to further build employee trust, but can also improve transformations long-term.
Key Takeaways for Organizational Change
With many organizations being forced into transformation efforts in the wake of COVID-19, it’s integral for leadership to act in an employee-centric manner. Keeping in mind some key principles of UX design can help leadership ensure they’re working with employees and keeping them a top priority.