BYLINE HERE AND OTHER CONTRIBUTOR INFOMATION
CI DILEMMA JULY/AUGUST 2019
Making change stick
With organisational changes struggling to take hold, a company is worried about the
impact it is having on the long-term sustainability of its workforce – and its operations
I just can’t get change to stick in our
organisation. We have tried for years
to make meaningful change and adopt
new management approaches but in almost
every instance we have gradually reverted
back to the old ways of doing things.
Don’t get me wrong, we have changed
over the years or we wouldn’t be here today,
but that change has been forced upon us as
opposed to coming naturally. Where we
have struggled for too long is in sustaining
the proactive changes.
We have always tried to communicate
any change clearly across the organisation,
project, as well as ensuring that people
get training on the new process or tool.
We always seem to get initial success, but
as I stated, this is never sustained beyond
the fi rst couple of months as management
and the shopfl oor quickly move on to new
and more ‘interesting’ projects.
We are now at an impasse: we need
to drive through change if we are to take
advantage of a number of new opportunities
and expanding markets. There is a real risk
that we will miss out if we cannot change
how we work in a sustainable way.
CI Solution Adam Buckley, leadership & enterprise excellence coach, TMI
This is an all-too-common occurrence. We
will all have seen, and often experienced,
the disappointing eff orts of improvement
initiatives within our organisations.
Many of these initiatives are driven by
the latest management fads, a guru’s latest
thinking or recently published books! Some
leave a trace but most are just tinkered
with, rarely resulting in any lasting
improvement unless constantly driven by
management. As a result, most employees
just pay lip service as they know it will
eventually just go away.
This has little to do with the concepts
themselves but more to do with the way in
which they are deployed. It is important to
stress that managing change is complex
and unique to every organisation, but here
are a few of the more common examples
based upon my experiences:
‘Selling’ change to people
Communication is an essential element to
eff ective change but just convincing people
and ‘selling’ change through PowerPoint
slides is not a sustainable strategy for
success. It is important to activate not only
the ‘what’ and ‘how’ but also the ‘why’. The
‘why’ must answer the emotional question
of what the change means for your people
and the organisation. Involve people, listen
to them, ask them about their concerns and
seek suggestions on how to ensure the
change is successful.
Managing the cost-savings
As soon as the low-hanging fruit has
been realised, management interest
will start to wane as the focus
shifts to the next fad. As a result,
employees become fatigued by
this stop start approach and
stop taking improvement
seriously. Change must be not
be driven purely by short-term
bottom line savings but by a
higher, long-term purpose (the
‘why’) that people can connect to if we
are to see real behavioural change.
Approach from a ‘technical’ perspective
Ignoring or, even worse, disregarding the
impact that change has on people will
stimulate an organisation’s ‘immune
system’, protecting it by increasing levels
of resistance and ultimately rejecting the
change. If people are not actually involved
in the change then this immune system can
ironically put the organisation at serious
risk by rejecting positive and necessary
change. The challenge to eff ective change
is think and practice on the basis of 20%
‘technical’ and 80% ‘people’.
Leadership delegating the change
The majority of change initiatives are based
on approaches, tools and techniques. As a
result, these tools are tangible and their
application and training can be delegated
by leadership down through the company,
both at the start and throughout the
usually in the form of a project. This can
result in declaring victory too early before
ensuring the change is embedded.
The key to eff ective and sustainable
change is for leaders to align
the change to the long-term
strategy of the organisation
and ‘lead the way’ by creating
an environment where change
is enabled, not just driven. A
leader’s role is to create and drive
change. If they don’t, who will?
Ensure training reaches the operatives
Training often stops at supervisor and team
leader level. This inadvertently develops
specialist ‘fi re fi ghters’ who create positions
of importance. To maintain this, it is in the
interest of the fi re fi ghter to not solve the
issue! Training must therefore reach the
value-adders in the organisation, as they
are the ones who work with the problems
every day and are best-positioned to know
how to fi nd the potential solution.
Most leaders know that sustainable
change requires a focus on the people
and culture, but still seem to only pay
this lip service or apply too light a touch.
Understanding how to embed change via
your people should be the fi rst step in any
initiative. Making change stick is not just
about copying a method and applying it.
It’s about knowing your organisation’s
culture, its people and what makes it tick.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Do you agree with our expert? Have you found the secret to making organisational change stick in your company?
Send us your views and you could appear here next month. Email: email@example.com