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Organizational Change is Like Moving a Mountain, Part 2

The first part of this article shared two common pitfalls that managers typically encounter when implementing organizational change: creating change initiatives in a vacuum and operating with the wrong perspective. Now learn how these pitfalls can be avoided or remedied by giving purpose to the change and by allowing your employees to create the solutions.

Give Purpose to the Change

Instead of introducing change by rolling out predetermined solutions, try introducing change by defining the reasoning behind it. To do this you must give purpose to it. Share with your workforce the reason why change is important and why it’s necessary. This transparency will allow your people to understand that mountain you are up against.

Describe the challenges you are trying to overcome

Determine where you are as an organization and where you want to go. Describe what challenges you are trying to overcome, what new customers you are trying to reach, and what upcoming resource restraints you are facing. When you start to talk about change in this way, it allows your employees to see their individual role in shaping it.

Bring everyone together to focus on a shared future

Giving purpose to the change sends a signal to your employees that everyone is in it together. It creates a culture of openness and trust that unites your folks with real purpose. Purpose brings everyone together to focus on a shared goal, a shared future. It lets them be a part of the future of the organization.

Allow Your People to Develop the Solutions

“The role of a leader is not to come up with all the great ideas. The role of a leader is to create an environment in which great ideas can happen. It is the people inside the company, those on the front lines, who are best qualified to find new ways of doing things.” – (Simon Sinek, “Start with Why”)

You’ve already established a shared goal for your workforce by defining the purpose behind the change. Now it’s time to empower your employees to develop the necessary solutions that will drive the transformation. There is no one better suited to create these solutions than your people. Think about it. Your workforce is on the front lines every day. They are the ones connecting with the customers, building the partnerships and producing the deliverables. They already know what works, what doesn’t and what it will take to make real change.

Give them opportunities to make their voices heard

Create an environment that allows your people to develop new ways of doing things. To do this, you need to actively listen to their ideas and ask them questions. Seek their expertise, their knowledge and their experience. Give them structured opportunities to brainstorm creative ideas then allow them to pitch their proposals. If they feel like their input matters, they will make it count.

Put into place tangible methods to solicit solutions

Most importantly, be genuine in your efforts to listen to their solutions. Put into place tangible methods to solicit the solutions and be sure these methods are accessible to all employees. You can start by setting up a website that allows individuals to submit new ideas. Another option is to hold virtual or in-person round-table discussions to hear about the latest and greatest initiatives being examined. Or really get creative by hosting a fun-filled, science-fair-like event to see what teams across your organization come up with. Talk about blue ribbon bragging rights.

So, is there a one-size-fits-all model to enforce organization change? Not really. Is it possible to make lasting changes in your organization? Absolutely. It takes a leader who is willing to give purpose to the change and to empower the workforce to produce solutions. If you strive to lead in this way, you will soon see that your people will move that mountain for you. In fact, they will move it further than you had ever imagined.

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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