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Personas in crisis and change management

Change management: How can companies successfully manage change and overcome crises? Holistic and target group-specific communication is the key. Find out how employee personas help to understand the needs and challenges of all employee groups and to tailor the change process.


People are programmed to prefer consistency. Familiar and familiar things convey a sense of security. Our instinctive behavior towards change is based on our evolutionary experiences and is often characterized by blockades, withdrawal or counterattack. In companies, the worst case scenario is a refusal or duplication of work if the workforce uses the old and new systems side by side. In such a constellation, even the best change cannot bear fruit.

In this area of tension, communication plays a key role in situations of change or crisis: it should be appreciative rather than top-down and transparent - without a hidden agenda. Above all, however, it must take place in the first place. And it has to be inclusive. This is complex because the situation is different for each person and therefore the same communication can only work to a limited extent for everyone. Much better: change narratives tailored to different target groups that pick up the respective target group exactly where they stand and make it clear why the change is necessary and what positive benefits it will bring.
In the context of change for progress or in the event of a crisis, change management must also use communication with the workforce to clearly answer questions that no one may dare to ask openly: "What does the change mean for me personally?", "Is my job still secure?", "Am I trained well enough?", "Who are my future contacts?" "What exactly is expected of me?" These and similar thoughts occupy all stakeholders and can be accompanied by fears, resistance, resignation, but also euphoria, motivation and activity: The innovation could call my competencies into question. Impose unfamiliar processes on me. Lead to more work - or: The innovation could give me a career boost. Put my knowledge in perspective. Make my work easier so that I have the capacity to develop. Successful communication in change management answers all these questions satisfactorily and in a clear and transparent way for everyone. If the information, motivation and integration of all stakeholders is lacking, inadequate, non-transparent or ineffective, the change process will fail.
As change situations are emotionally charged, information about them must be communicated consistently and comprehensibly. Holistic and careful change communication is of great importance. In order for stakeholders to be motivated to go along with the change, they need to know why it is needed, who is affected and how, and what will change or hopefully improve as a result. This information cannot be poured out over the company "with a watering can", but only works for specific target groups.

Personas in change management

This is where personas come into play, in this case employee personas. They do not represent customers or candidates, but different stakeholder groups that require different approaches and channels. Employee personas fulfill a variety of functions that facilitate the change process and promote its acceptance:

  1. Companies/organizations can use employee personas to gain a deeper understanding of the needs, motivations and challenges of their employees. This makes it possible to develop targeted measures that are tailored to the needs of the various employee groups and prevent misunderstandings.
  2. Personas are not real employees, but they represent each group based on real data and reflect their real needs and pain points. Based on this, companies can develop targeted support measures for each group to support their workforce during crises or change processes. This can include training, psychological support, flexible working hours, or other forms of support.
  3. Employee personas can help companies to identify key players within the workforce who could play an important role in managing crises or changes. This allows companies to take targeted measures to involve them and gain their support.
  4. If you know the different needs and working styles of the various stakeholders, you can adapt work processes and structures accordingly. This ensures efficient collaboration and performance during a crisis or change process.
  5. Engaging with employee personas enables leaders, change managers and other key stakeholders to put themselves in the shoes of employees and better understand their perspectives. This promotes empathy and helps to view change from the employees' perspective, which in turn can improve acceptance and willingness to work together.
  6. Employee personas also make it possible to determine exactly which employee groups are most affected by the change and therefore require special attention and support. This makes it easier to prioritize resources and measures during the change process.

Employee personas support companies in crises or change processes in mastering them in a tailored and effective manner and addressing the needs and challenges of all employee groups. If this is successful, everyone feels involved and the fear of the unknown or uncomfortable is reduced to a minimum.

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