Results from our organization assessment survey show a downward trend in the effectiveness of self-driven corporate change programs, internal training and general management capabilities. Upon further investigation of the 5,171 global responses we received from both managers and employees, it became apparent that the root cause was the inability to institutionalize behaviors that would bring about lasting change.
Lack of confidence
Perhaps the most troubling of our findings was the lack of confidence people have in management's ability to lead and motivate change. A significant portion of the employee population we surveyed mentioned ineffective communication, poorly structured teams and minimal feedback as reasons for their uncertainty. Limited opportunities for training and professional development were said to be significant roadblocks for future advancement. To be successful, management needs people to be accepting of change on all levels of the organization. It requires the following:
- Realizing why people must change
- Having the vision to move forward
- Executing the plan
- Measuring success
Doing things differently
The organization must have a willingness to try new methods and break old habits for meaningful change to take place. Sustaining the changes calls for alignment of people's behavior with newly installed systems and processes. Making it clear why the changes are necessary is what sustains them over time. When people do not understand the "why" from the outset, the importance of doing things differently is underestimated. Crafting solutions that support staff members in the execution of changes that will transform the operational structure of the business is an integral part of our approach.
There are three truths to executing change:
- People make the change, not the organization -- Clear and concise communication of the plan and subsequent steps needs to be the first order of business. People will act only if they fully appreciate and acknowledge the need for improvement. This not only involves broadcasting the message, but also testing the audience's interpretation of what it means.
- Supervisors have the greatest impact on their people -- Although it is upper management's responsibility to disseminate the message, it is the supervisor's job to clarify it and gauge understanding from their staff. They need leadership skills to navigate people through the changes and ultimately toward the finish line. In addition, supervisors must have the training necessary to manage all resources, processes and systems in their new working environment.
- People do not like being left "in the dark" -- Management must lay out a road map of directions, tasks, responsibilities and expected results in a way that is easy to understand. The amount of time it takes for people buy in to the plan will determine how quickly the changes take place.
A winning formula
Our People Solutions team utilizes a combination of best practices in communications, education/training and sustainability when assisting C-suite executives with their change initiatives. As mentioned before, communicating the message early and often will set the tone for the entire project. Training and one-on-one coaching has proven time and time again to facilitate alignment between people's behavior and new processes. Sustaining the results can be challenging, so we identify areas where people have regressed and then address the underlying issues.
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