Organizations must continuously evolve in order to stay relevant in today’s shifting landscape of competition and market forces. The need to adapt is crucial for global expansion, global operation, and capturing deal value from partnerships and acquisitions.
Most companies develop strategic and tactical plans in an attempt to navigate these volatile conditions, but few realize that there is a huge risk of failure unless they also create a culture that supports change as an integral part of business.
How to create a change-ready culture
Companies must cultivate an environment where people are aligned with the success of the organization and with one another. Any effort that involves transformation can only be as successful as the people implementing it. Many companies look only at what’s being changed – technologies, business processes and organizational hierarchies – rather than at the people who make the change happen. For a company to effectively drive a new strategy, collaboration across functions and commitment to common goals is essential.
Change is often difficult, but it’s even more challenging for human systems because individual goals aren’t always in step with team or organizational goals. The magic ingredient in getting employees committed and collaborating toward a common goal is alignment. Good leaders structure individual incentives to align with personal motivations and team performance, and they foster a culture of ownership and cooperation. Transformational leaders go a step further and inspire a shared vision, bringing employees into the process of architecting change instead of just implementing it. This creates a culture of collectivity within the organization—the first step in making it change-ready.
Investing in change
After setting the foundation for a change-ready culture, organizations need to invest in building employees’ capabilities for managing the new culture. Without getting teams and individuals culturally competent, even the best-designed strategies will fall short of delivering expected performance.
To become truly change-ready, companies should develop team-led competencies that encourage collaborative behavior, invest in individual assessments and training, and facilitate cross-functional communication of aligned missions. These investments in people will reduce your risk of failure more than any other measure. Organizations that ignore these steps will see their teams falter while executing change—even in the presence of sound strategy—and ultimately this reflects failure of leadership.
Framework and execution
Most companies rely on a structured change management framework that starts with defining goals and ends with a feedback loop. Leadership should set very specific change management goals and include clearly-defined initiatives. For instance, let’s say your transformation goal is to become a more customer-friendly organization. One initiative toward achieving this goal could be to embrace a more consultative sales approach in place of traditional prospecting.
After assessing teams and individuals for adaptability to change and identifying any competency gaps, you need to invest in special training or workshops to build the necessary skills inside the organization. For each change initiative, it’s critical to employ the right people in the right roles. The next step is to manage any redeployment, relocation or release of team members that lack the right skills and competencies. Managers then map out the processes and work activities that need changing, and evaluate if any new systems or tools are required. An assessment of risks and impact of the planned changes is undertaken and mitigating measures are identified.
The path to managing change starts with building a culture that embraces the need for change and then developing change-ready leaders and teams. The final but perhaps most definitive step is to build a sustainable process for execution, measurement and improvement of change initiatives. After that, you will have a culture that understands, embraces and effects change when needed.