How to get all your staff on board with change?
Sails need to be adjusted when there is no wind; right when everything seems to be in place is the time to start introducing change on a continuous basis. What happens if you don’t do that can be seen by looking at what happened to companies like Kodak or Nokia.
To stay ahead of your competition and to sustain your business it is vital to keep reinventing yourself. But how do you make sure you get all your team on board? How to capture their interest, how to motivate them and how to provide them the necessary energy to perform the changes?
When your organisational culture is not fit for continuous change you will try to bring change gradually: evolutionary. Or, you will create a project with a clear end goal: the transition via freeze-unfreeze-freeze; you will stop the boat, perform improvements and continue your journey. You will use advisors that organise great meetings with lots of energy. But you notice when the implementation phase is there, people will fall back into their old way of working. They think: this will settle down and things will go back to normal.
Why do these type of projects fail?
You are running a successful business and realise that your company needs to change. You will think about this for three months and will present your plans to the management. Your management will have three weeks and will explain their staff within three days what needs to happen. With a clear five year plan, this is possible. The goal will be like a mountain top with a clear path leading towards it, with everyone following the guide. But changing continuously is not a hike. It is a journey supported by a wind that is always changing, unpredictable waters and a changing course. You will therefore continuously need to navigate and measure where you are at. You will also need to involve your complete crew from the beginning; everyone has a role in continuous change. We call this transformation.
All hands on deck
On all levels of your organisation there are people that fully support the organisation’s course: they are enthusiastic, bring ideas to the table and would like to change. They possess the strongest change skills. Because changing is a skill, just like sailing, programming or playing football. The largest group will follow and is willing to participate: they are on board. Behind the ship there are rowboats with people that offer resistance to the proposed change. You may have the tendency to give this last group the majority of the attention, however we rather start with the change advocates. We start with the people that are the best at changing, because only then continuous change will happen.
Compass: How to measure where you are?
The easiest way to measure where everyone is on their journey to change, is our scan. With our experience in managing change we have developed a scan that will indicate fast and clearly how all staff are performing. This scan is your compass in every phase; your change advocates will influence their colleagues to join the journey, people behind the ship will discover possibilities to reach their own goals as part of the change and will join the ship, sometimes even alongside the change advocates. The scan will provide you all information on your employees, who they are, where they are at and what their capabilities are in changing. The captain is behind the wheel, but also needs a navigator that has the instruments necessary to measure the wind and current. Besides this, the captain also needs the crew, that provides information of what they see. Our scan will look at your crew and will determine whether or not the right members of staff are involved to drive the change.
The curve of continuous change
The curve of changing continuously consists of four phases: insight, inspiration, implementation and integration. Change processes fail mostly because the phases before the implementation have not been handled well and by the right people.
Insight: Where are you now and where did you come from?
In the first phase you will notice there is an external impulse that calls in change. You are only able to respond to this if you are able to link this to the knowledge and skills of your team. Our scan provides information on this. You will see the culture of your organisation and whether this is easily changeable, who are your change advocates, where the resistance is and what is the difference between the desired and the current culture.
Inspiration: where would you like to go?
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once said: “Quand tu veux construire un bateau, ne commence pas par rassembler du bois, couper des planches et distribuer du travail, mais reveille au sein des hommes le desir de la mer grande et large”. Meaning; if you want to build a ship, don’t start by gathering wood, cutting boards and distributing work, but awaken the desire among your men for the big and wide-open sea.
What are the desires in the different layers of the organisation, where are the differences and how can employees and management start to share the same dreams? Our scan will look for a win-win outcome, rather than finding where the resistance is highest. When the results of the scan are executed with care and attention, the gap between the top, management and staff becomes smaller and the inspiration phase becomes a phase of transferring knowledge.
The top of your organisation is inspired and knows where it wants to go. Openly discuss with your staff where they would like to go and set clear expectations. Involvement and honesty can help a long way towards helping employees adopt change. What is the ideal organisation and which values do we want to operate by? In this phase, a high level of communication and interaction between employees and managers is crucial.
Everyone joins the journey
Staff are much more likely to be engaged if they are asked for their feedback and can share their knowledge and skills, rather than when being presented a Powerpoint from the top.
If you know where your people are, you can bring them along in what is possible, and stretch their own goals and vision at the same time. Mostly, your staff might be resistant to change not because they do not support it, but simply because they don’t fully understand it. When people are not aware of the possibilities, it is hard to imagine what could be. Only short of 20 years ago, not many people thought they would need a mobile phone. Now, people want the latest apps and the highest quality camera on their smartphone. To create that desire for new possibilities, there needs to be an understanding first of what those possibilities are.
With your change advocates that share your vision you will look at the long term future: these are people with a yellow value system. They possess a natural ability to look beyond the here and now and actively embrace continuous change.
Implementation: how to get there?
When it is clear where everyone stands, where they came from and where they would like to go a plan is created almost naturally. During the implementation phase you will need doers, people with a blue/orange energy.
The implementation of a transformation is agile: you are moving continuously, like a ship sailing on sea. Part of achieving this is letting go of old habits and belief systems. The more people you reach, the greater the insight you will have on what is the perception amongst staff and the more options you will have.
You will meet face-to-face with the most changeable staff from the different layers across the organisation based on the GROW-model (Goal, Reality, Option, Will). From experimenting, something new will arise on a different level, that will take over the course of the ship (your business) halfway along the journey.
Integration: how to remain at the forefront of change?
In this phase you will teach the most important lessons, skills, competences and knowledge. You have arrived in the harbour and are looking forward to your next journey.
From the implementation phase your company will develop through the integration phase by the slick effect. The GROW model stimulates change advocates to communicate with other staff that have joined the ship. There is no external change management expert that can do this for you; this needs to come from your people. Our scan will show you how a new movement will start within your organisation. We will then train people internally so that they can continue to use the scan during the continuous journey for change. The distribution of the willingness to change will change as well; more people will join as a change advocate, dependent on the course and development of the company. Again, you will measure where you are now, you will always be checking the compass. This brings you back to the phase of insight, but this time on a higher level.