Have you ever had an experience where you were told “go for it”…gone bungy jumping, white water rafting, sky diving, a roller-coaster ride? If you did go for it, what made you do it? Was it the excitement of the unknown and adrenalin rush? Was it the influence of somebody close to you, to take a leap of faith…trust in them? These are factors that you want to enliven in the people that you are trusting to implement your vision.
Let’s explore the elements in the scenario above. There are 2 distinct reasons why you would have “gone for it” 1) you personally felt a connection to wanting to achieve the activity, and 2) you trusted somebody to support you or guide you through the experience. Business transformation is the same…you need leaders to support and guide your people through the change and you need for them to feel a connection to wanting to make the change – the “leap of faith”.
So what are the practical ways to make this happen? Let’s discuss.
In today’s climate, organisation’s need to position themselves as market leaders. Strategy execution is a much talked about topic that requires action, commitment and passion to achieve the desired goals of the organisation. There is no time for pass the parcel…simply “handing off” to somebody and making them responsible for executing the strategy will lead down a path of failure.
Give ownership of the transformation agenda to whom you believe will be able to deliver, but always stay connected. As a part of handing over the program/project, create a sense of passion and urgency, and make your expectations clear about how you want to remain connected to program/project…regular meetings, status reports, etc. Dr John Kotter points out that creating a sense of urgency will assist in maintaining momentum for your transformational effort.
The sponsor plays a significant role in bridging strategy (organisation’s vision to transform) to execution. Sponsors will invariably be an Executive, or a senior representative that has the knowledge and the ability to drive the messaging around the change. Sponsors don’t need to be the only ones to lead the effort, as leadership can be developed from within the organisation, to realise the vision.
Calling all employees!
Open your transformation agenda to all employees, which will provide a platform for identifying leaders who can assist in the transformation effort. Whilst you have identified those that are impacted, there may be some influential people in the organisation that can assist you achieve your outcomes. By not limiting yourself to those that are the decision makers and the project team, you invariably create momentum and an opportunity for a fresh set of eyes to call out action to be taken.
Many hands make light work – is true in the transformation effort. Support can be found in the most random of situations – use this opportunity to excite your workforce to a new and better way of working and thinking. You will also come to understand the readiness of your people for your change, at all levels. Having change agents throughout the organisation can give you insight into the thoughts and feelings of those that are directly, or indirectly, impacted. This can assist you in identifying specific resistance strategies that can debunk rumours or threatening behaviours.
Clear, concise, simple and unambiguous vision
For individuals close to the decision makers, it is easy to understand the need for change. Conversations are conducted at a high level to distinguish the reason why and how the change needs to take shape. Building a cascading communication channel to the rest of the organisation is imperative, as with the ease of access to people within an organisation to reach out to those leaders to clarify points and elaborate further on the vision.
Only move from one level of the organisation to the next, once you have achieved awareness, understanding, connection and personal drive to achieve. Moving from one level to the next will require coaching of each group, so that you can personally be assured that the message is getting through and your stakeholders feel a sense of connection to the transformation need.
Your messaging should be 3 to 5 points in total, with a lead-in emotional need for the change. This will make it easier for distributing materials (in many forms) and having conversations that regularly reinforce the why and how the change will take place. These key points represent the mechanism for people to understand what is occurring and what the call of action is. People can then make an assessment of the impact on them and how they can be involved for the transformational success.
Listen to the signs
Resistance isn't necessarily a bad thing. As discussed in my earlier blog (Business Transformation: a connected approach), resistance is generally a sign of people not understanding the why or how projects are instigated…remember the African Wild Dogs and their ability to act as one? Identify strategies that address these behaviours, in the first instance, to achieve your outcomes. It will be important to call these behaviours out to their direct Manager, so that they can be called to action.
Line Managers are critical in the transformation effort, as they will be able to translate the change to their employees in a non-threatening, real way. They effectively become the corner stone of your communication channel, to assist in debunking rumours and behaviours that are counter-productive to the transformation effort.
Is the execution of your strategy effective? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.