Operating in today’s business world is like living in the land of “Re” — something is always changing and mostly it is “re-something”: re-organizing, re-structuring, re-shaping, re-framing, re-aligning, re-engineering, and so on. People have to constantly deal with the message “we’re changing again.” As such, change has become a constant part of our work lives and a normal function of every leader’s role.
Yet many change initiatives simply don’t work, leaving change agents scratching their heads. Often it’s because insufficient consideration is given to the people side of the change. It’s not that people don’t like change — or inherently resist it — but rather that they don’t like it being mandated upon them.
For change initiatives to be successful, employees need to support and believe in the company’s strategic goals and see clear advantages for both the company and themselves. They also need to know that their contributions are a valued part of the overall initiative. In other words, they need to feel an emotional connection to what the company is trying to achieve and what it means to them personally.
“People want to be part of something larger than themselves. They want to be part of something they’re really proud of, that they’ll fight for, sacrifice for, that they trust.”
– Howard Schultz, Starbucks
Organizations that focus solely on other stakeholders such as shareholders, lenders, and customers and take a pure process-driven, functional approach to organizational change are setting themselves up for a difficult journey. Conversely, companies that integrate a values-based approach into their change process will have higher levels of engagement and buy-in from their people.
It makes sense that if a change initiative is designed to improve the performance of an organization, such sweeping change must have the “buy-in” and engagement of people at all levels of the organization. How can leaders achieve this while implementing initiatives to radically transform their organization?