Change Part 3 – Initiating And Leading Change Successfully

Over the last three weeks we looked at natural and human induced change, and we looked at four specific drivers of change. Today I set out to give you the first steps of a toolkit to initiate and lead change in organisations effectively. But first, a true story.

A manufacturing company in the North of England decided to embark on a 5S mission to implement Continuous Improvement, as part of a change drive. One day of the week, every week, between 1pm and 2pm everyone in the entire company (including directors) had to “do 5S”. There would be no meetings scheduled for that time, no calls, nothing. Only 5S. Everyone’s calendar was populated with 5S at that time, for the foreseeable future. The first four weeks saw everyone doing it. Then, slowly cracks started to appear. The senior leadership stopped participating, and started taking calls, holding meetings etc, when everyone else was expected to participate. A few more weeks passed, and it was back to pre-5S, with nobody participating in 5S.

Successfully running an organization is a complex undertaking and involves analysis and processing of extensive amount of data and information, and being able to predict the best possible outcome in dynamically fluctuating conditions. Therefore it is a task that requires more than one brain to plan, and execute. So, how do you go about initiating and leading change in an already complex scenario? Three things to get you started.

  1. Put People First

An organization is an entity and people are its representatives. It prospers or withers based on the behaviours of the people. Behaviours drive performance, but what drives behaviours? You must make your people feel valued. People who will be the change makers, and the people who will be affected most by the planned changes. People give their best, when they feel valued and appreciated. Ask yourself this: How valued do the people in my organization feel?

  1. Lead from the Top

Leading from the top is about recognising the need, being honest, setting bold and daring visions, and planning the execution of these visions, pulling people towards a successful future and so forth. No employee comes to work in the morning thinking they are determined to do a shoddy job. Leadership needs to commit itself to being an active part of the process, every day. This should not be just a box-ticking exercise, but has to happen due to a genuine desire.

  1. Empower from the Bottom-up

Empowering from the bottom up is a matter of trust and transparency. Placing trust in the employees and gaining their trust. Consistent communication and keeping people apprised of what is actually happening helps build the much-needed trust. A good starting point will be to understand what their problems are, what is preventing them from being effective at doing their work, and how to minimise the inconvenience to them. Rather than simply introduce new ways of doing things and imposing new tools, asking what they think will be a good starting point. When people are asked what they think, they feel valued. Valued people are happy people and they become willing. Empowering people also means allocating resources to help them with implementing new ideas and methods.

Once you have willing people then, everyone starts to see room for improvement, how to do things better, they start going above and beyond the call of duty. When employees see the commitment, trust and transparency from leadership, then the resulting motivation and desire can be inspiring. Phrases like ‘we have always done it this way’ and ‘we don’t see a reason to change’ and ‘we don’t like change’ soon become things of the past and you will see employees looking for better ways of doing things. Yes, you will get somethings wrong, but mostly you will get it right.

To summarise today’s post, as a starting point towards successfully initiating and leading change:

  1. Put People First
  2. Lead from the Top
  3. Empower from the Bottom-up

Talk to Equitus Engineering today about how they can help you do this successfully.

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