The need for adaptability is essential in an ever-changing business environment. According to a 2012 McKinsey study, 17% of change projects end so disastrously that they threaten an organization’s existence. What is it that change leaders can do to drive the engagement that is required to make a successful change? Let’s look at the four key behaviors of those who effectively embrace change.
Share a clear purpose
Purpose is the ultimate guide for all actions. Those who possess change agility know the purpose of change and can easily answer the question of why change is necessary. Knowing why helps individuals to fight the natural instinct to resist change. The answer to why needs to tap into what’s meaningful and important, providing an incentive for employees to be on board. If you can’t articulate a clear purpose behind the changes being made, it’s unlikely that your employees will be able to implement them.
Seek opportunity in everyday circumstances
Most leaders view this as the role of senior executives. To infuse change agility into your culture, mid- and front-line leaders need to be encouraged to see every day as an opportunity to recognize and embrace change.
Make the discussion of change a part of the regular conversation. Simply asking questions like “What are our customers talking about? What do you think they will want a year or two from now? What new trends do you think will impact us?” sends the message to others that looking ahead is important.
Also, provide a space to experiment with change. When a potential opportunity to embrace change is identified, allow individuals or groups to experiment with ways to take advantage of it. Minimize the need for multiple layers of sign-off; this often kills momentum.
Learn what’s not working
During the integration of an acquisition, adoption of new policies, or internal mergers of business units, there will be good and bad news that the organization needs to learn from. Don’t be afraid to share bad news. For real learning to occur, people need to feel comfortable enough to share organizational flaws as well as accomplishments.
Look for valuable partnerships
As work becomes more complex, it takes teams and collaborations to build products, attract customers and achieve results. Change-agile leaders are turning to groups that allow for the rapid flow of information and decision-making around a product, customer or region. This creates a more consistent employee experience across learning functions and more efficiently addresses learning needs across the company.
These behaviors, when used together, create culture shifts that increase change agility. They are shifts that need to be made at all levels of leadership, in order to drive success.