Big or small, companies either decide or are forced into change. At times, these change initiatives can fail due to evolving priorities causing people to lose sight of the end goal.
There are many factors to making change stick. For example, companies need to:
- Change together with their staff and,
- Work on bite-sized changes at any given time, ensuring they align with the larger goal or company mission.
These two elements go hand-in-hand. Let’s get into the details below.
Change impacts staff regardless of the type of change. It is not uncommon for team members to be unhappy about their lack of involvement in change efforts, which spirals down to disengagement, low performance and inevitably an exit. Staff members need to be part of the change conversations from conception to readjustments in order to believe in it and drive it forward. How do you get this alignment? Identify a need or a gap, and let staff members take ownership of the initiative, encouraging conversations with their colleagues. This can then lead to organic buy-in to the change.
Opening the conversations to the broader team will inform leadership on what the real problem is that needs fixing, rather than what leadership thinks the problem is – yes, they are often different. So, how do you engage staff? This does not have to take a lot of time. You can try a simple Google Form to get ideas and opinions regarding the issue at hand and the change plan. If you do have more time, go for face-to-face sessions such as focus groups, co-creation workshops and more. The idea is to work with your team to come up with solutions to address the need, and then create the change plan which the staff implements, tweaks and measures against.
Have you heard of the “burning platform”? This is the sense of urgency in organizations for staff to do all the things, all at once. Yes, everything is a priority. Unfortunately, this impedes on the ability to work with well-thought-out plans, careful details and accuracy; a lot can go wrong when everything is a priority. With change initiatives of all types happening across the organization, and at different stages, it becomes something similar to that burning platform. Every change task could be a priority to make everything work well. However, to avoid overwhelming people, change leaders need to keep change initiatives to bite-sized pieces; take tiny steps that lead to big change over time. Also, remove initiatives from the pipeline that do not align with the company’s strategic direction and mission.
Here are some key takeaways to consider for your next change journey:
- Ownership: Allow team members to become change champions by taking on the full ownership of the change initiative. This encourages buy-in (more on this topic in a future post).
- Inclusion: Engage staff at all levels and ensure they get their say. They are the experts of their fields and can help change leaders identify root causes to better understand the issue in question.
- Alignment: Evaluate change initiatives against the company’s strategic direction and mission, and prioritize accordingly. Not everything is a priority.