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The new year has a way of making us all think about change.Â We create new goals for ourselves.Â Fitness goals.Â Diet goals.Â Career goals.Â At the same time that we are making our personal goals for the new year, senior leadership at companies across the nation are doing the same thing.Â Although the focus may be slightly different, i.e. how they can capture more market share, reduce costs, create a succession plan, or increase employee engagement, the end result will likely involve some type of change.
How Successful are People at Making Lasting Changes
More often than not, people do not stick to their New Year’s resolution for very long. In one study over two years, about one in five people (20%) were able to keep to their resolution. On the other hand, three in five (60%) dropped their resolution within 6 months. In a recently reported British study, 22% of people reported that they were “very successful” in keeping their resolutions.Â Â Source:Â WAIBTV.Â Those percentages are pretty dismal when you think about it.Â And those are your own personal changes that YOU want to make.
Now, imagine you are the CEO of a company.Â Your company has 200 employees in 3 different locations and you have just decided to purchase another company in a fourth location.Â How likely is it that you can successfully implement this large-scale organizational change and get everyone moving in the same direction, working towards the same goals?Â There is no sugar coating this answer.Â It is going to be very difficult and require a tremendous amount of energy, patience, communication, and outstanding leadership skills in order to make this happen.Â And you can bet that energy, patience, communication, and leadership abilities DO NOT fit neatly inside a brown paper bag.
Change in a Brown Paper Bag
You may be wondering what that means.Â Too many companies try to implement organizational change through a “brown bag lunch” process.Â Has this happened in your company?
“Our managers need leadership training.Â Let’s schedule some brown bag lunches and teach them how to be better leaders!”
“Our health insurance costs are increasing.Â Let’s have a wellness speaker come in for a brown bag lunch presentation!”
“Our employees say they aren’t engaged and satisfied.Â Let’s have a company-wide monthly meeting over lunch and motivate them!”
Steps to Effective Organizational Change
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if all of a company’s problems could be solved through the brown bag lunch process?Â Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.Â Organizations who successfully implement change do the following things:
- Collaborate.Â Share ideas with employees early in the process to get feedback and buy-in.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate.Â There can never be too much communication when change is involved.
- Be transparent.Â Not only about the change but also that you may not always know the answers.Â Even with the best plan in place, there are unknowns.
- Be compassionate.Â Change is a process for everyone.Â Even for those who embrace it.Â Help people move towards acceptance.Â That process will be different for each individual.
- Allow and demand questions.Â Employees should have questions.Â Part of helping them move towards acceptance involves education and inclusion.
- Celebrate.Â Make a big deal about the little things along the way as well as celebrating major milestones.