The Challenge of Organizational Change
Change management consultants have long sought to remove barriers to organizational change. With change a constant for most companies, flexible and agile organizations that can adapt to new challenges and new constraints will succeed in the long term. Until the most common roadblocks to change are fully understood, change will continue to be a struggle for most organizations.
The Value of Removing Obstacles to Organizational Change
It is certainly in an organization’s best interests to smooth the path of change. Employees who do not encounter barriers during change report being:
What Change Research Says About Barriers to Organizational Change
Why are so many companies and employees stymied by change in the workplace? In most studies, researchers observe three major barriers to effecting change based on three different employee beliefs.
Regardless of the root cause, the more that employees feel actively involved in and empowered to make changes in a way that makes sense, the better your chances for lasting change.
When people are not confident in their abilities to change, focus on providing targeted training, practice, coaching, and feedback.
When employees are not fully committed to change, leaders should focus on understanding how to best reward and recognize the desired behaviors. In general, you want to reward and provide positive feedback for the behaviors and performance that you want and have negative feedback and consequences for undesired behaviors and performance.
To be effective, rewards and consequences for change must be perceived as meaningful, timely, fair, proportionate, consistent, expected, and aligned with the changes you seek.
The Bottom Line
If your change initiative is struggling, invest the time to identify your change roadblocks and actively involve those most affected by the changes to design a practical plan to turn the tide. Then consistently monitor progress, communicate results, and hold people accountable to the new way. Change is rarely easy, but it can be done.
To learn about how to remove barriers to organizational change, download 5 Science-Backed Lenses of Change Leadership
What Matters Most – Does Your Culture Prioritize Profits over Values?
When push comes to shove and you or your business is struggling, which operating principle wins out – profits or values? Business leaders spend a great deal of time crafting corporate values for leaders to model and employees to follow such as integrity, accountability, teamwork, diversity, excellence, etc. But how many companies live their espoused values on a consistent basis?
A Case in Point – Espoused Corporate Values|
Here’s an exemplary list of corporate values from a company website:
There’s even an added comment: “Never knowingly violate laws, regulations, policies, or standards, even if you think doing so would lower costs, increase earnings, or delight a customer.” Sounds grand.
Can you guess what organization has chosen these values for their employees? PG&E. The public utility recently being blamed for multiple deaths and countless wildfires in California.
The Reality – Actual Corporate Values
We now read that documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal reveal that PG&E has long known that parts of its nearly 19,000 mile system had “reached the end of their useful lives.” It seems company leaders knew that many of their high-voltage powerlines could fail and potentially spark fires. We now know the devastation and tragedy their neglect can cause – over 1,500 California fires in the past 6 years — including the deadliest ever. PG&E’s critics accuse the company of shirking safety precautions to funnel money toward investor dividends.
Mike Florio, who was a California utilities commissioner from 2011 to 2016, told The New York Times. “There was very much a focus on the bottom line over everything.” A 2017 report to state regulators highlighted PG&E’s tendency to act only after a major disaster.
If company executives had truly “lived” their values around protecting the environment, acting with integrity, and communicating honestly, the potential fire danger would have been acknowledged long ago, necessary upgrades would have been accomplished, destructive wildfires might have been avoided, and PG&E would not be facing bankruptcy and dissolution.
Who’s to Blame?
We point the finger at the overall PG&E corporate culture that appears to have clearly prioritized profits over espoused values.
We define a company’s culture as how things truly get done in their organization. Culture can be measured by understanding the way people think, behave and work. This includes the known and unspoken values and assumptions that drive key business practices and behaviors – especially in leaders.
Employees look to their leaders to model the culture and set the standards for behavior. As hardworking and dedicated as so many PG&E employees are, they were betrayed by executives who did not walk the talk and by the actions (or inactions) of employees that prioritized promotions or job security ahead of speaking the truth. While it appears that the problems started years ago, now the entire organization is literally falling apart.
Even small pockets of misaligned behaviors and decisions can create a large wave of problems down the road.
Does Your Company Culture Prioritize Profits Over Values?
If you are not sure, you would be wise to assess your current workplace culture to see where you stand in terms of organizational health, high performance, and strategic alignment.
The Bottom Line
Be aware how much you as a business leader are responsible for your company’s culture. If you expect your workers to follow corporate values as stated, you must show them how and make sure there are consequences for not following them. Can you honestly say you are on the “right” side of the values over profit controversy?
To learn more about how to create a healthy, high performing, and aligned corporate culture, download The 3 Research-Backed Levels of a Healthy, High Performing and Aligned Culture
Misunderstood Corporate Strategies Undermine Success
Misunderstood corporate strategies threaten your success. A corporate strategy is the plan you create to achieve specific goals. Without the guidelines of a clear strategy, it is difficult for leaders and employees to collectively seek the right new opportunities, make aligned decisions, and conduct day-to-day business in a way that moves the strategy forward. Strategic clarity sounds important, doesn’t it?
The Importance of Strategic Clarity
Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performance in terms of revenue growth, profitability, customer loyalty, leadership effectiveness, and employee engagement. If you want to perform at your peak, you need your strategy to be clear, believable, and implementable across the organization. And yet, as business consultants for over thirty years, we are constantly amazed at how few companies have designed a strategy that is coherent and well understood by their key stakeholders.
How Clear Is Your Strategy?
Our research found that employees on average find their company’s strategy to be half as clear as their boss. Recent research by Timothy Devinney et. al. at Sydney, Australia’s University of Technology asked employees of 20 major Australian corporations with strategies that had been fully and publicly expressed to select their business’ strategy from among six possibilities. Less than 33 percent identified their own company’s strategy!
Unfortunately, many corporate strategies are either unclear or not getting through to their employees.
The Consequences of a Misunderstood Corporate Strategy
Here are a few of the negative effects of a misunderstood corporate strategy.
The Bottom Line
Can your employees articulate your strategic priorities and the rationale behind them? Make sure they can in their own words, or you might suffer the negative effects of misunderstood corporate strategies.
To learn more about creating a clear, believable, and implementable corporate strategy, download 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Cascading Your Corporate Strategy
The Employee Engagement Survey Is Over
You did it. As a leader who believes that employee engagement matters not just as a reflection of employee satisfaction but also for its impact on the bottom line, you conducted an employee engagement survey. The employee survey results are in. What now?
Here’s What NOT to Do with Employee Survey Results
There is no better way to decrease employee engagement than to ignore the feedback from your employees. Employees may not have told leaders what they wanted to hear, but they often tell leaders what they really need to know about how their employees feel about their work and the organization.
By discounting or ignoring employee suggestions, employees can rightly feel that their opinions don’t count and that company leaders don’t care about them – the exact opposite of what you are trying to accomplish.
How do you find out? Ask teams what the word “resources” means to them and how additional resources would help them to succeed.
Sure, you probably need to create some boundaries about “what is” and “what is not” open for change, but you should explicitly empower employees to own the improvements that they seek within an agreed-upon framework.
Be honored that you received candid feedback. Negative feedback should lead you to areas that can not only increase engagement and performance but also decrease unwanted turnover. Suck it up and be grateful for the opportunity to make things better. Do not take it personally.
The Bottom Line
Employee engagement surveys are invaluable tools to take charge of how employees feel about their work and harness their help in improving their work environment. Handle the findings right and all will be winners.
To learn more about how to better engage and retain employees, download Top 10 Most Powerful Ways to Boost Employee Engagement
New Managers are Struggling
Do you know the role and responsibility of a new manager at your company? Senior executives and non-executive managers are unhappy with the performance of their companies’ frontline managers. According to CEB research, a whopping 60% of new managers under perform during their first two years, and not surprisingly, 85% of new managers still receive no formal training prior to switching into the role of manager.
The Role and Responsibility of a New Manager in 5 Stages
In order to be effective in today’s complex organization, new managers must be able to lead, plan, organize, and control so that they meet the needs of their many, and often misaligned, stakeholders. Think of a manager’s role as comprised of the 5 stages highlighted in our new manager training:
The Challenge for New Managers Today
The challenge for new managers is not only to master the five stages of their role but to expand their thinking so they are agile and flexible enough to meet the inevitably changing demands of the future.
To succeed in their new role with today’s workforce, new managers have a responsibility to approach their role more as an instructor than a traditional boss, one who empowers rather than demands.
That means that successful new managers must also be able to:
The Bottom Line
The job of a manager is evolving from an employer boss to an entrepreneur – someone who seeks to grow the team and is open to continuous improvement ideas. Are your new managers up to the challenge?
To learn more about the role and responsibility of a new manager, download 7 Immediate Management Actions to Create Alignment with Goals
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The Challenge of Organizational Change Change management .....