Editor’s Note: This article is the second part of the series titled “How To Succeed at Leading People Through Change.”
Catalyzing teamwork and supporting people to work towards the company’s vision is very important. Having a common belief among people inside the company is what needs to be established first. The beliefs of people refer to their values.
Values serve as the guiding principles of the organization. They need to be set not only by managements’ input but also by employees who will need to comply. IBM CEO Sam Palmisano has done this when he was leading a change from a mainframe maker to a robust provider of integrated hardware, networking, and software solutions back in 2002.
Sam proposed three (3) value statements: commitment to the customer, excellence through innovation, and integrity that earns trust, which then changed as per input from the workforce and after being shared with employees to comment on. However, this is not the end of the story. Collaborative effort to set the values is one side of the coin. Believing in them and steering the company forward through these values is the second side that compliments the first side. The new agreed-upon values are dedication to every client’s success, an innovation that matters for our company and for the world, and trust and personal responsibility in all relationships (Paul Hemp and Thomas A. Stewart 2004).
Teamwork is always a key to change. Creating the right team that evolves and gets bigger along the process of change is important. Putting together the ideal team creates the needed collaboration and energy to change. It can start with a few numbers of people and eventually gets bigger. While there are tools that can create harmony between team members, ensuring they all follow the same direction to the desired change is crucial to success.
Creating harmony among teams and team members involved in the change is important to minimize resistance. Resistors are everywhere and can be created at any time. They exist due to the fear of change, not understanding the big picture, and how they will fit in. This is where leaders of companies and leaders of change teams need to create the urgency to continue. Even if achievement was gained, it still needs to be reflected in other areas of the organization. Change needs to be absorbed by the culture to maintain and sustain its outcome. Sustainability can’t be achieved in short periods. It requires continuous efforts to build harmony among organizations on any achievement and to introduce sustainable practices gradually into the surrounding environment. (John P. Kotter 1995).
Attitude and behaviors of employees are important to keep at high levels during any change. To steer this positively, employees need to be the ones who acknowledge the small changes related to a big change in place. They need to share their perceptions of how things are being led and how this is resulting in new consequences that can relate to a big change.
Employees are the ones who are executing the change. To acknowledge this and empower it, leaders need to listen to employees and use their perceptions and insights as valuable input to make any modifications to the plan for change (Ron Carucci 2019). Getting the buy-in from employees means that they need to be part of setting the actions forward and developing the change plan. Asking “how can we do this?” and “how they can contribute to this?” or “how they can support us in this?” is crucial to bring people into one group feeling empowered, cared for, and letting employees be convinced that their leaders truly believe in them. No change can happen without such an important asset which is the employees (Harvard Management Update 2008).
Creating a common purpose for employees and driving them forward with hope is essential for value-based management. Motivating them to realize the need to change leads to more agility and the achievement of objectives (Paul Hemp and Thomas A. Stewart 2004). Motivating employees to be part of a change is not easy, especially if there were previous attempts for change that have either stopped or failed. Failed attempts at change can cause employees not to trust any new change or choose not to be part of it. Employees can even not put forward all their potential during a change if they are not motivated. Therefore, it’s important to build employees’ resilience to change and maintain it along the way. Keep them part of the developments and achievements and share successes with them (Ron Carucci 2019).
Change is part of any business now. Leading it efficiently and effectively is needed to sustain the business. Proper leadership enables organizations to tackle the external factors affecting business anywhere in the world while building on internal capabilities, assets, and employees. Leading change requires leaders to work hand in hand with their employees. Working as a team is a game-changer to handle the different details and aspects of the change and transformation in their businesses. This can be done by strengthening the teamwork between employees, team members of the change team, and departments to eliminate silos. Working as a team also develops a collaborative environment between everyone.
Leading change is always aligned with value creation. We always look at the value of what is being delivered to customers. We also need to understand that value goes through different stages to be created. This chain of stages needs to be supported by having a clear guiding principle shared among all employees and having leaders talk the walk and walk the talk to be the role models for their teams.
Communication is another aspect that is very important for leading change. It needs to be well managed and executed to ensure it is done properly. Effective communication in leading change gets the needed buy-in from everyone while also keeping them all in the loop of achievements, success, and progress. This will support building the needed motivation among employees who are executing the change. While employees know they will not be put aside but referred to and considered by their leaders, organizations should empower their members to share perceptions and ideas continuously to ensure the success of the change journey.
They say excellence and changes are also a journey that does not end by achieving the result of a new change. But they will require continuous efforts to embed this change in the business’ working environment and daily operations to ensure sustainability and reflection on customers and financial numbers.
To widen your knowledge about defining your organization’s strategy in times of change, establishing appropriate customer trust, and creating the right balance between team members, visit The KPI Institute’s website and sign up for Certified Strategy and Business Planning Professional Live Online Course.