It takes a village to drive change
You’re probably familiar with the old saying There’s no ‘I’ in team.
We’re also fond of another popular saying: It takes a village to raise a child.
As change practitioners, we know that it takes a group of people working together – not individuals – to successfully navigate through times of change. And while executives of organizations can issue a call to action, the reality is that employees from all levels – including the frontline – must be fully engaged and supportive to generate a successful outcome.
So, how can organizations convince their village to unite in addressing a common objective? Here are a few of the strategies and tactics we’ve recommended and successfully implemented over the past decade with numerous organizations across Canada and the United States.
Learn to earn
We relish the opportunity to join executives and their sponsors in taking a deep dive to not only learn more about their business but more importantly, their people.
Through stakeholder analysis, we are able to discover how various business areas and teams are being impacted by change along with how receptive they are to it. We often break down their sentiment into three categories: supportive, neutral or opposed.
Based on our findings, we are able to offer recommendations on multiple tactics that can be used to help individual operating areas gradually adjust to and then embrace the change that is taking place.
The key thing to realize during this stage is that everyone reacts to change differently. For your efforts to be successful, people have to feel involved and supported in the process.
Articulate the vision
While many teams or villages are aware of changing circumstances and the need to address them head-on, not all of them are capable of doing this on their own. That’s where we come in.
We often begin by helping senior leaders and their sponsors clearly define their vision and objectives along with how they will measure their success. From there, we develop a series of customized resources – including toolkits, communications and learning and development material, and personalized coaching – to assist them in articulating and delivering on their plan.
All through this phase, we stress the importance of having a framework that places a priority on people – not process. To get buy-in at all levels, leaders have to demonstrate their commitment first and then make a compelling call for others to follow.
The reality is that when people adopt something new – whether it is a job function, reporting structure or line of business – they have to say good-bye to something old. And that represents a form of loss and people generally fear loss more than they do change.
With a clear understanding of the new direction and the reasons for pursuing it, you have a better chance of earning their support and commitment.
Go with the flow
It’s often said the only things in life that are certain are death and taxes. In our profession, you can have the best strategy and plan in place and things can quickly pivot because people and circumstances can change.
We saw this up close when assisting a financial institution with its national expansion program. Midway through the initiative, the CEO left to pursue another opportunity.
Fortunately, another executive in the organization stepped up to become the new sponsor and managers – and later frontline staff – rose to the challenge. It was extremely gratifying to witness and demonstrated the value of the earlier work we did with middle managers in the organization.
Just like no two individuals or organizations are alike, no two change scenarios are the same. A multitude of factors – human and market-based – can easily throw off a well-organized plan. That’s why we include a focus on flexibility and resilience when collaborating with senior leaders.
Never stop growing
Our experience has shown that the organizations that are adaptive and the most receptive to learning new techniques and skills are the ones that have the most sustainable success.
While we savour the opportunity to share our expertise with organizations that call upon us, we’ve also made it a priority to enhance our own knowledge base and experience through various networking and professional development opportunities.
For example, in 2019 our co-founders earned a new designation (Certified Change Management Professional™) along with an appointment to the British Columbia Business Council.
It’s these types of opportunities that will not only benefit our firm but also the growing community that we are proud to be a part of.
To collaborate with us or to discuss your particular change management challenge, contact us at email@example.com.