In my previous blog on organizational change, we proved that change is hard to do. Organizations can’t just will their employees to change; they need to create momentum to get it going and need to motivate their people to do something different. For this second blog in the series, we will dive deeper into how to successfully implement change by creating momentum and removing friction because, as a reminder, only 34% of organizations report their changes as clear successes.
An immediate reaction to the lack of change success might be to think that employees simply don’t have the willingness or capability to drive successful change. However, in a recent change readiness survey, 64% of employees were shown to have at least a baseline level of effectiveness in most skills required to engage in change.
If it’s not our people who lack the ability to successfully change, we need to determine if the way the organization is implementing change is the problem. Are they telling their employees how to change or are they involving them in the planning? When it comes down to it, do they have employee buy-in?
If they aren’t using their employees to strategize, they are likely engaging in top-down change, and not in open source change. Open source change uses employees to influence and improve change using three key elements:
- Leaders proactively include employees in change strategy decisions
- Employees own implementation planning
- Communication focuses on talking instead of telling
- From the same change readiness survey, research shows open source strategies can increase the probability of change success from 34% to 58%, increase employee engagement, and decrease the number of change resistors within the organization.
One of the most effective approaches for building momentum and decreasing the number of change resistors in open source change is to communicate and sustain it by sharing application stories that highlight early successes.
Think about it – when we see others like us doing something, we’re more likely to follow in suit. In our Effortless Experience™ product offerings, we work closely with service organizations to showcase “social proof” on all levels. In our rep and supervisor programs, participants develop a peer network in the classroom and throughout reinforcement activities to make participants’ efforts visible to each other. Visibility is a big theme when it comes to reinforcing behavior and to encourage participants to follow through and gain what the program has to offer.
With the social proof we’ve gathered, we present upwards to leadership as well. Highlighting success can validate the need for the change across the organization and allows leaders to understand the extent to which individuals in an organization possess the change capabilities to help make effective decisions.
In contrast, leaders need to be aware of the barriers to change within their organization to remove friction that chips away at the momentum. Not only do we talk through common barriers we hear from organizations implementing our program, but also we encourage leaders to uncover specific barriers we may not be aware of. This exercise enables effective change management because leaders walk away with tangible next steps to remove these barriers to achieve change success. In addition, open source change conversations help surface additional barriers that may not have been readily apparent to leadership. If you want to know where behavior change it going to fail, you should really be asking the people who are supposed to implement the change (in this case, the frontline).
So the next time you’re looking to implement change within your organization, whether it’s big or small, consider using an open source change strategy that includes your employees from the beginning. And remember to continue their involvement throughout the entire change, highlighting their success and listening to what may prevent them from changing.