In Article 5 of this six-part series about internal and external CRM and organizational change management in casinos, Charlie Mai explains the application of organizational change management in a case-study casino in Australia.
Like other casinos in Australia, the subject of this case study underwent transformational changes in its leadership, organizational culture and operational structures. Its change vision was to shift from product-focus to employee-customer-focus. However, to deliver this customer focus requires frontline employees’ engagement because they directly interact with customers.
This vision of change resulted from the challenges of low employee engagement and lack of collaboration between the casino’s business units that in turn affected customer experience and created challenges for growth.
To realize the vision of change, the case-study casino’s change objectives were to lift employee engagement and to increase their capability and the collaboration among them. These objectives were measured against employee engagement and customer satisfaction scores.
To achieve those objectives of change, the case-study casino employed structural and cultural change strategies. A six-year change journey was carefully mapped out. The first three years targeted at frontline management and the last three years were more frontline staff members. Year 1 was about development and planning and introducing the change; year 2 was embedding the structure; year 3 was about role clarity; and years 4, 5 and 6 were about change and growth at all levels.
To implement this change strategy roadmap, the case-study casino focused on implementing seven key change management factors (the 7 Cs): coalition, change diagnosis and planning, consultation, communication of the change process, capability development, collaboration, and change embracement.
Successful change management requires a full commitment and support from top management. To secure such commitment and support, the case-study casino formed a guiding coalition. This coalition comprised a project sponsor (CEO), a steering committee (executive team), a project manager (a corporate HR manager), and working groups (other senior managers and external consultants).
CHANGE DIAGNOSIS AND PLANNING
Also, a detailed and careful risk assessment and change readiness diagnosis was conducted before the decisions of change were made. Therefore, many “what if” scenarios and detailed project plans and key milestones were in place. Also, the use of external consultants ensured all perspectives including industrial relations, project management and change management perspectives were well covered.
There was a high level of anxiety around change management in the case-study casino. People’s initial reaction was: “Well how does it impact me?”. Therefore, consultation was critical to ensure the right level of support and encouragement for impacted people to be able to express their feelings, opinions and emotions, and more importantly to feel comfortable with the change. Consultation not only helped to engage key stakeholders and get them on board with the change, but also ensured a smooth transition during the change process that did not cause any major interruptions to the continuity of the business.
COMMUNICATION OF THE CHANGE PROCESS
Without communication, change management goes nowhere. Communication must be open, transparent, honest, positive and decisive. The process of communication also involves different levels of communications. During the initial phases of the change process, communication was ’less is more’ and the message was concentrated on the ’need to know’, because people included in the change naturally consider the impact on them, individually. Part of the initial communication was to explain the need for change to employees as well.
Having gone through those initial phases, the case-study casino’s communication was more detailed about the impact and benefits of the change and the risks associated with it. The messages of the change were also delivered repeatedly and consistently.
One of the case-study casino’s change objectives was to develop people management and leadership capability for its frontline managers. Leadership and management capability development for managers was not only to help them perform their job well, but also to deal with their immediate staff well.
Another part of increasing leadership and management capabilities was role clarity. That role clarity came down to management focus and management alignment across levels as a two-way contract.
Similarly, another objective of the case-study casino was to increase collaboration across its business. Indeed, the change of focus from product focus to employee and customer focus required collaboration across the business. The silo-based organizational structure had to be replaced with an employee and customer focus so the business units within the organization collaborate rather than compete.
Finally, successful change management required that staff embrace the change. The end game is to get frontline staff engaged and on board with the journey of the change.
In brief, organizational change management initiatives were implemented across business units of the case-study casino. However, the outcomes of these change management initiatives varied. Some business units successfully managed change to lift their employee and customer engagement and satisfaction scores as well as enhance their collaboration with internal and external stakeholders, whereas some were still in the early stages of their change management process.
In summary, this Article 5 of the series of articles about internal and external CRM, and organizational change management in casinos, showcased the implementation of organizational change management in a case-study casino in Australia. People-related issues have emerged as the biggest cause for the success or failure of change management. These people-related issues will be addressed in an additional special article and again in the final Article 6 which presents the integrated model of internal and external CRM change management in casinos and its application in the case-study casino.
Charlie Mai is a senior corporate practitioner and researcher with 25 years of experience in sales, marketing, services, operations and change management across business sectors and industries, including casinos, integrated resorts, hospitality, FMCG and manufacturing in Australia and overseas. Charlie holds a Doctor of Business Administration degree, a Master of Internatoinal Business, and Bachelor degrees in Foreign Trade and Computer Science.
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