You Had One Job!
We see counless failed change processes, programs and initiatives along the sidewalks of businesses across the globe. The one element almost every consultant, expert and guru avoids for the reason why 70% of these programs fails – EGO. Too many, want the mantle of ‘I changed ABC Company’ and ‘I was the reason why it worked.’ Frankly, it’s the single biggest factor of failed leadership. It’s not about you and it never was – let it go. That’s how you screw up a change initiative. Sure, that’s a simplistic viewpoint, but sadly it’s also incredibly accurate. I’ve spent more time helping leaders get out of their own self-serving way, establish their self-awareness baseline and build their organization from that frame.
We know how change tends to succeed – a groundswell of support lead to more and more people going ‘all-in’ and moving their bad behaviors to good habits, fluid communication of standards and expectations all while leading with empathy and perspective. We know how it can fail and fail miserably. We know how to check the archetypes of culture as a starting point for change. Do we know how we to engage people in a way that is sustainable – the crucial condition for successful change? A powerful principle in contemporary organizational change approaches is:
People Support What They Help Create.
Engaging people means enthusiastically tapping into their ideas and energy. It involves utilizing their potential and edifying them throughout the process. Engaged people have in-depth, detailed and sometimes historical information crucial to the intended change process. They may have objections that can improve the change plan. They aren’t disagreeing with the process – they need more information to understand what the change is, why it’s important and how it impacts their contribution. They’re not pissed off! They want data!
When problems arise, the new or additional information helps all of us bypass even avoid some problems. They martial their own energy and motivation to change their own behaviors. Such a personal change is another crucial condition for organizational change. Your people are telling you, here’s how I can and will change if you show me how my contribution and my change affects everyone else I’m connected to. It’s not rocket surgery!
Engage People to Create Successful Change
Engaging is essential to move people forward to want to take ownership of their change process and shed the victim mindset. It unleashes positive power and leads to unforeseen, positive outcomes. This is the serendipity of all change efforts large and small. Some of you cringed at the thought of ‘unleashing your people’ – why? Because you’ll lose power? control? Are you scared? If you felt that, then yes your EGO is at work and in need of a gut-check! At some point, you’re going to realize you cannot continue to lead or have managers manage from a broken forty year-old top-down conventional leadership model.
It’s time. Time to let go of quite a bit of what you learned at B-school if that date was in the 80’s and 90’s. I recommend Tom Devane’s book, The Change Handbook, if you’re considering any orgnizational change effort. It describes 60+ methods based on inclusion, which will shape your culture, and using a systematic approach – the organization is a system with typical behaviors and tipping points, as opposed to focusing on solving problems.
“True sustainability requires people at all levels, in all locations, are authorized to own their problems and solutions.” – Tom Devane