Help Staff Buy Into Organizational Change

Today’s leaders are responsible for making a broad base of decisions, from the mundane to strategic decisions that may affect the survival of the entire organization. Achieving organizational alignment is one of the greatest challenges they face.

Leaders managing large-scale change can lose sight of the fact that human beings naturally resist change and have a finite capacity to absorb it.

The amount of information thrown at us today is mind-boggling. We are literally overloaded. Important information can easily be lost in the flood. How many of us have been asked, “Didn’t you see that e-mail?” Um, maybe you missed it along with the other 150 e-mails in your inbox!

Many organizations today are paralyzed by the amount of change management asks them to address, ranging from new policies, products and services to the latest software programs that touch almost everyone in the workplace.

We have all been exposed to management introducing the “program of the month.” Often the end results are predictable — nothing much changes.

If we’re on the front line or an end user of the changed program and we’re not involved in its creation, we naturally resist it — and grumble beneath our breath that management just doesn’t get it. In these cases, workers typically just wait it out, hoping the current program dies.

The lesson for leaders (or those tasked with creating change) is to spend your change chits wisely and involve others in your process.

When evaluating that new initiative or program, no matter how good it looks on paper, do some organizational testing and involve the participants the program will affect. This will greatly increase the probability of buy-in and commitment.

Consulting with the front-line implementers or end users is critical; after all, they will be the ones most affected.

There are techniques to help facilitate effective decision-making, particularly in a team environment. Skilled facilitators have tools, techniques and processes for helping groups make critical decisions.

How decisions are being made directly affects the quality of the decision itself and the probability of success. When facing decisions that have major organizational consequence, here are a few questions to consider:

  • Have I gathered sufficient information to identify the problem accurately?
  • Who else might I consult with (that I haven’t considered yet) who will be affected by this decision? Whom could my decision harm or help?
  • Develop objectives: What short- and long-term results am I trying to achieve?
  • Identify evaluation criteria (i.e., resource requirements, risks) and alternatives.
  • What is the best approach to ensure buy-in and commitment by those who will carry out the decision?

Now that a decision to change has been made, how do you manage it to ensure ongoing buy-in and commitment?

Here are a few tips:

  • Communicate expectations, recognition and rewards.
  • Solicit and support ongoing input and feedback for improvements on the program and process.
  • Call attention to benchmark achievements and program success.
  • Set the expectation that the success of the program will be measured and communicated.
  • Identify accountability — who will be responsible for what by when?
  • Make it your priority.

Quality and timely decisions are critical to organizational success (and, in the end, what most leaders are judged by). Creating organizational alignment is an undeniable competitive advantage. But it is easier said than done. How decisions are made, communicated and managed have significant impact on the people and the organization.

As an executive coach, I regularly help clients with change.  Call me at 360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com for my help.  I Skype with clients all over the world!

 

Adaptability for Career and Business Success

DARWIN’S WORDS, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change,” are highly relevant for today’s business climate. Thriving in today’s complex, dynamic and turbulent marketplace will require new adaptive approaches.

Ever wondered why some organizations embrace change, making it through tough times, while others fail? The answer lies in their resiliency.

A resilient organization is one that can effectively innovate, adapt and perform in the face of adversity (not just in good times). Resilient organizations often bounce back even stronger when stressed versus being flattened by their own inability to change.

Adaptive and resilient organizations have several characteristics in common:

  • Clear, unrelenting focus around purpose and goals.
  • Flexibility and openness to new approaches, roles and ways of getting work done.
  • A climate of learning, creativity and a proactive approach to finding opportunities to improve (even when stressed).
  • Trust, cooperation and open communication.
  • Senior leaders open to employees’ input and influence.

In contrast, rigid, bureaucratic organizations with choking politics, “red tape” and a control-oriented leadership mentality will often fail to adapt effectively when faced with hardships. In general, the greater the bureaucracy, the greater the difficulty responding to challenges, like trying to turn the Titanic around to miss the iceberg. Rigid bureaucracy is frequently the biggest impediment to agility. Words like, “It’s always been done this way,” or, “not in my job description” can stop needed responsiveness and innovation in its tracks.

Leadership is key to improving any organization’s resiliency. Though creating a resilient organization won’t happen overnight, here are some guidelines:

  • Don’t lose sight of core competencies. Address these questions: What are the business/team “strengths” and strategic advantages? What is working in your favor that you can build on? How can the team leverage the fundamentals that make your team and business strong?
  • Examine work processes and the “big picture” to encourage responsiveness in the face of changing conditions. How and where does communication flow (or not)? Are there bottlenecks? What does it take to get a decision? Is there duplication? Are we burdening people with too much information or checkoffs? Focus on simplifying and “clearing the path.”
  • Empower those on the “front line” to do the right thing for customers (they are a valuable asset in these troubled times) and the business. Experienced, motivated employees can make it happen as long as the business hasn’t burdened them with onerous approval processes or red tape that gets in their way. A responsibility of management is to make sure employees have the information and materials they need (in a timely manner) to do their jobs.
  • Nurture and sustain a workplace culture that supports agility. Being able to seize opportunities and adapt quickly in this uncertain economy may mean the difference between success or failure. Not being able to change course quickly was the end of the Titanic. Reward risk takers, out-of-the-box thinkers and those who “get it done.” Be on the lookout for analysis paralysis.
  • Hire for adaptability so you can redirect roles if necessary. Re-examine work that employees are doing while identifying their strengths and skills. Is it work that still makes sense? This may require employees to cross train, share resources or assume other duties as required.
  • Foster organizational learning. Treat errors as learning opportunities. It’s OK to be wrong and change course as long as we learn from the past to create a preferred future. Don’t expect things to work perfectly when innovating (studies show it often takes a second or third try for the best solution).
  • Nurture and sustain creativity. Poorly managed brainstorming stifles creativity. Leaders often blow it by tainting the well, offering their own ideas first. Make it safe for people to offer ideas in an open, nonjudgmental atmosphere. Encourage wild ideas. Don’t allow the naysayers to stymie or silence those with ideas.
  • Establish outlets for people to process the stress of change. Wise leaders will respond with empathy and listening to understand the challenges and concerns of their people.

Invest in yourself by hiring me as your career coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and emotional intelligence abilities.  I coach professionals all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com