Everyone wants to progress but no one wants to change. People inherently choose comfort over risk and this makes for an uphill battle for any organisation in a transitional phase. The reality is that growth depends on continual change. Thought leaders know this but how do you get the others on board?
Change models are a useful technique when followed accurately. Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model is a comprehensive step by step process to effect a successful change. You can plan all you want though, change agents are hitting brick walls, grappling at every turn and having to return to step 1. Perhaps we should take a step back and review our strategies. Here is what we know: Change is continual, change is inevitable. For this reason, it makes perfect sense to prepare your human resources well before the time comes.
Organisational Development (OD) is a theory with its foundations in behavioural science. It aims to increase organisational effectiveness through long term training programs that develops people. Borrowing from the fundamentals of OD, here are ways to sustain evolutionary change within your organisation with what I call Change Culture Cultivation:
- Get employees accustomed to an ever evolving environment. Begin with subtle changes that will be accepted with ease. Employees should come to expect that operational procedures are not cemented.
- Become renowned for innovation by habitually launching new products or if costly, adding services to customers.
- Introduce new systems and challenge employees by offering diverse tasks and letting their talents emerge.
- Encourage workers to propose changes as well. Brilliant ideas emerge from people when the environment is conducive. It empowers people and creates a synergy for change. More importantly, they will feel a larger sense of purpose.
- Attributes such as Versatility and Flexibility should be dominant criteria in your recruitment selection processes. A workforce that is easily adaptable are Change Champions.
- Adopt a flexible approach to management. People hate to be coerced into anything. Think ‘Wet Paint. Don’t touch!’ theory on a larger scale. Rigidity will only succeed in driving the opposite effect.
- Transparency. If stakeholders are left in the dark regarding company activities, a change will be unforeseen, and they are more likely to resist.
- Communication is the key. It is the master key! It builds trust and employees who trust will engage with employers. When a major revolutionary change is upon you, amidst the fear of the unknown, people will still embrace it because they believe in you. Seize every opportunity to communicate the values and vision of the company. Strategic communication is the basis of lasting relationships and this cannot be emphasized enough.
- Change Your Mind before changing others’ – it makes all the difference!