How to Set Organizational Change Up for Success

How to Set Organizational Change Up for Success
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Can Bananas Set Organizational Change Up for Success?
You might well wonder what a bowl of bananas and oranges has to do with change in the workplace. It turns out that a comparison between the two fruits can teach us quite a lot about how to set organizational change up for success.

When employees are given a choice between the two, they inevitably select a banana rather than the orange. Why? Not because one is more delicious or healthy than the other, but because bananas are easier to deal with. They are much easier to peel.

The Principle
It is simply human nature to follow the easier path. So, when it comes to organizational change, the principle should be to make it easy for employees to change and somewhat uncomfortable for them to continue in the current undesirable behavior. Often just a few tweaks in either direction can make the difference between success and failure.

Examples of Managing Small Change

  • Late to Meetings
    How can you encourage meeting attendees to be prompt without a heavy-handed approach? On the positive side, try offering tasty munchies and drinks available only for the first five minutes. On the slightly uncomfortable side, you can save a few seats in front for those who arrive late so they cannot sneak in unobserved.
  • Unapproachable Colleagues
    Are office doors preventing collaboration among coworkers? Rather than reconfigure the entire office space, first remove the doors so there are no physical barriers to sharing ideas. Then set up an open area where employees can comfortably gather.

Transformational Change
Organizational change on a larger scale is, of course, more difficult to achieve. But the same principle applies. You’ve got to make the change easy and appealing while the status quo appears less desirable. Include the following steps to set organizational change up for success:

  1. Make It Easy to Understand Why and How
    Be very clear about what the change will entail, why transformational change is needed, and how successful organizational change will be accomplished. Once the business case for change has been clearly delivered and agreed to, each work group must define how change will impact them and the adjustments they will need to make.
  2. Make It Uncomfortable Not to Change
    The most successful change leaders make a clear and compelling case for what would happen if the desired change were not achieved. The positive picture of successful change should be contrasted with the unhappy consequences of failed change.
  3. Reinforce the Positive, Penalize the Negative
    Behaviors, even those that employees have agreed and committed to, need consistent and meaningful reinforcement to become habits. Reinforce behaviors with meaningful rewards and ongoing feedback and deliver appropriate consequences for slipping backward.

The Bottom Line
There are a few tricks of the “organizational change trade.” Apply the banana principle of making change easy and appealing at the same time as you present the status quo as negative. Add these elements to your change management approach and enjoy the results.

To learn more about how to set organizational change up for success, download 5 Science-Backed Ways to Lead Successful Change

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