Organizational Change Is Like Moving a Mountain, Part 1

Organizational change is critical to meet new demands and to remain relevant in an ever-changing world. The challenge is that producing authentic change requires dedicated effort and genuine focus. There seems to be this desire to create a step-by-step process or a one-size-fits-all model to offer a quick and easy solution to produce lasting change. Sure, models can help, but they might not always produce the results you want.

Here you will discover two common pitfalls when it comes to organizational change from a hypothetical scenario based on a manager’s perspective. Part one of this blog post identifies two common mistakes that a manager might experience when attempting to make changes. Next week’s part two will examine how these pitfalls can be avoided or remedied.

Designing Change Initiatives in a Vacuum  

Let’s say you are a leader in an agency that has some major changes on the horizon. You are excited to drive this big change to advance your organization yet a little nervous about how your employees will respond. You tell yourself that your employees will see the benefit of the change and quickly adapt. Enthusiastically you establish a small working group to develop some change management initiatives. The working group starts rolling out these great initiatives and you are eager to watch your workforce fully embrace them.

Then it hits you. It’s a few weeks into implementing the changes and your employees are doing anything but embracing them. You realize that your well-intended change techniques didn’t work and you start to become upset. Soon you assume your agency is filled with stubborn people, who aren’t willing to, you know, change! You quickly learn that achieving successful organization change is really challenging. It almost feels like you’re trying to move a mountain!

You slowly realize that the initiatives your working group developed were mostly pipe dreams that fell short of resonating with the actual workforce. The solutions weren’t practically tailored to your organization and the workforce simply didn’t accept them. But why is this? It’s because you operated in a vacuum without any input from your people.

Operating with the Wrong Perspective

You soon dread bringing your organization through any kind of change and so you settle for mediocre results or resolve to only making small changes here and there. It’s at this point that you probably start seeing your people as that mountain you are trying to move.

It’s tough, we’ve all been there. It feels like you are putting all your blood, sweat and tears into making this massive mountain move! And at the end of the day you are drained, upset and frustrated. You tell yourself, there’s got to be a better way, right?

Maybe you start to realize something more about that mountain. Perhaps it occurs to you that changing an organization ultimately relies on one thing to be successful: your people. Read that again. It’s true. You were looking at it all wrong. You were seeing your people as the problem, the mountain. Shouldn’t you instead see them as the most powerful force that can actually move that mountain? But how? By giving purpose to the change and allowing your people to create the solutions. Learn how to do exactly that in the upcoming second part of this post.

You may also be interested in Organizational Change Management is a Driver of Employee Engagement.

Tessie Davenport has served as a leader in the Department of Defense for the past ten years. Her breadth of experience includes creating successful teams, coaching, mentoring, and leading development programs. She has a B.A.S. in Information and Computer Security, a M.S. in Intelligence Management and is pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Organizational Management. She hopes to inspire new leaders and experienced ones by offering practical ideas to help them build positive cultures and grow their people. Tessie is happily married with three dogs and a cat. She loves to travel, hike, kayak, and explore.

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