Employee Passion through Transformational Change
The emergence of Organizational Change Management as the panacea to achieve success in accomplishing business initiatives, process improvements, and applying newer technologies has created a cottage industry of “change management” consultants, methodologies, and tools. MSS, being a key player in the implementation of new technology solutions like ERP over the past 3 decades, grew our consulting practice in the 90s and early 2000s rescuing failed ERP projects. Billions of dollars were wasted during that era with blame being directed at software vendors, systems integrators, and customers.
The inability to adapt to these new ERP solutions, more often than not, were the blame for these failures. MSS was successful in these engagements by ignoring the blame and taking a holistic view and addressing
- getting the business strategy/initiative right;
- getting the functional organization aligned;
- getting the employees engaged; and
- utilizing proven practices and properly applying the technology solutions to the business model.
Although all four of these elements are critical, getting the employees, who would ultimately determine the success of the project, engaged through awareness and participation accelerates the time to benefit of the business initiative. If we can develop that engagement into a true passion for the transformation, I am suggesting the results can be greater and more sustaining.
This takes me back to the opening statement about “change management” consultants who provide templates, checklists, communication tools and training for these projects. Are they really bringing the transformational change to the business or just improving the success of the project? I suggest we can only achieve transformational change through employees who can become passionate about the change through engagement in change activities or by developing a deep understanding of the change benefits to both the company and to them.
There are as many “employee engagement” consultants and models as there are in the organizational change space. In fact, there are some elements of employee engagement included in the various organizational change methodologies and toolsets, but they do not go far enough to be transformational. For the purpose of this article, we refer to Ken Blanchard’s Eight Key Factors Influencing Employee Passion:
- Meaningful Work
- Connectedness with Leaders
- Connectedness with Colleagues
Whether you have an employee engagement program or not, approaching any transformational effort provides the ability to extend an existing program or begin one using the business initiative as the catalyst and provide a lasting transformational culture for your company. Let’s explore the intersection of organizational change and employee engagement.
Meaningful Work – Including employees on any business transformational effort creates the opportunity for them to feel proud of their contribution to the future of the business. Committed project team members will gain the most engagement but how can your company create an opportunity to engage all employees who will be impacted by the change throughout the project effort? When employees see and feel how their efforts are contributing to the transformation, work becomes more fun and ownership for the success is increased.
Collaboration – There is so much informal knowledge that is key in every business operation today that can go undetected until a change is implemented. While all business transformation efforts require collaborative efforts for the project team, extending collaboration throughout the organization by providing opportunities for discussion, suggestions and clarification can go a long way in finding this knowledge as well as engaging the masses.
Fairness – Business transformations by design will change processes, workloads, and responsibilities. Are we addressing the organization to ensure the workloads are fair, balanced, and equitable under the proposed organizational and operational changes?
Autonomy – Achieving change requires the team driving the change initiative have the training, tools, support and, most importantly, the authority to make decision to keep progress moving forward. There will always be unexpected twists in the road that might slow a team’s progress if decisions can’t be made close to the issue. You will discover providing this authority instills a level of responsibility and thought that will be taken seriously by the person having this authority and set a direction most likely to avoid other pitfalls that may not be seen or understood by upper management.
Recognition – Recognition is a key element of any change management methodology. Business transformations are complex, challenging, and stressful. Don’t wait until the project ends to reward and praise the efforts of the team and affected employees. Build a culture of constant recognition and appreciation for achievements.
Growth – Any business transformation provides the ability for many people to grow in their capabilities while developing new skills and responsibilities during the transformational project. Adding to providing the recognition during the project effort will be opportunities for some of your team members to step up into now job roles and responsibilities. These individuals might just become the next generation of passionate leaders who inspire the work in the transformed operations.
Connectedness to Leader – Transformational change needs to be inspired by top level leadership and spread down to all levels within the organization through the transformational leaders. It will be key for everyone in the transforming organization to see and hear from all levels of management on the importance and goals of the change and, most importantly, how each person will be part of the resulting change. Open and honest communication from leadership and personal interaction establishes the trust that people need to be effective and not be distracted with fear of the future. This element of engagement is critical to those who are not part of the change activity but only engaged through the communication plan and activities.
Connectedness to Colleagues – Just as connectedness to leaders establishes trust between a leader and team members/employees is key, establishing interpersonal relationships with your colleagues creates an effective and efficient team. Educating your team members on emotional intelligence will make this connectedness more effective and trusting. Establishing this connectedness is the real driver of a team, where everyone is aware of each other’s abilities sets a goal to make every team member successful.
In closing, I suggest you can increase the benefit of a business transformation to include a highly productive, passionate workforce that will make your company excel after the changes are complete as well as be prepared to continue transforming the company. Include the measurement your employee engagement before your transformation and soon after using tools from Quantum Workplace or others. I look forward to hearing from you on your results.