People, the most important asset and foundation of all companies. People are your employees, customers, partners, shareowners and community that make up the heart of your culture. It is people that are change and transformations biggest keys to success. It’s your people that lead change and transform, and it’s your people that are the most affected by the outcomes. Change and transformation really does begin and end with them, which is all the reason to solicit their buy in and support.
Respect the past, it is the guide to the future.
From the outset, recognize that how your business operates today is the culmination of years of building it. It embodies all the decisions, creativity, modifications and refinement made along the way while responding to customer, partner, shareowner and regulatory requirements. Employees are understandably proud of what they have accomplished, even if change is required. So be respectful of what they have created to get the business here, knowing the decisions made along the way made sense at the time and it has been years of very hard work.
Understanding what works well and differentiates the business cannot be lost in the journey ahead. Not only do your people know that in detail, they also know how the work really gets done. Surprisingly, that differs from how management thinks it works sometimes. Be it employees, customers, or partners, take the time to sit in their shoes and see firsthand what they do and how they do it. Seek to understand what frustrates them or hinders productivity and observe how people use technology. Most importantly, listen and learn from them. They have years of experience, expertise and a wealth of information to offer. I bet they even have a few suggestions on how to improve things.
Employees are often excluded in large projects until the end. Rest assured, they know this means change and they will be the most impacted by it. This leads us back to purpose preceding people in the five Ps. Without fully understanding transformations purpose, coupled with lack of information, employees are left to fill in the answers themselves. Trust me, they will. This often results in fear, doubt and uncertainty regarding themselves and their jobs. When that occurs, it becomes a major hinderance to progress and a key reason why organizations frequently resist change during transformation.
So, get your people involved early and often throughout the journey. When they are informed, onboard, and engaged they will be your greatest advocates and supporters. Solicit employees to own the journey and get them involved at all levels and through all phases. When their ideas and designs are baked in, they ultimately own the outcome. Through this, they will become ambassadors for change across the organization, driving faster adoption and better outcomes.
The journey requires a great team of people to execute the change, resulting in a team that is effective and works well together. Get the right people on that bus, in the right seats and seek a good blend of personalities and skills amongst them.
Don’t forget to praise and reward all the extra work since their day jobs continue to demand their time through the entire journey. It is hard work, long days and weeks that take important time away from family, friends and community. Large projects also create an environment for new stars to emerge in your organization. Encourage their involvement and growth as well as support new career opportunities that emerge for them.
Transformation hinges on people adopting change. Involving employees early, often and having them own many parts of the journey go a long way to realizing a successful outcome.
Herein lies the adage heard many times through the years. Culture eats strategy. People make up your culture, and when they are not onboard, strategy always loses.
Dave Brady, Turning Point President and CEO
© Turning Point Corporation, 2018