The 8 Vectors of Organizational Change
Organizations that thrive must continually adapt to shifting circumstances in the marketplace and to meet changing customer needs. They must change in order to grow. No organization significantly increases its size, scale or value to the customer without also changing its capabilities, its processes and its internal interactions. Most organizations though, are not built for change. They are built to produce and deliver their product or service and yet, it is an organization's ability to change that ultimately determines its success.
Most organizations make change harder than it has to be by allowing some vectors of change to push back against the change effort. 4th Gear Consulting helps organizations make change happen faster and more consistently by aligning the critical change components:
In order to successfully execute change it is critical to know exactly where you are headed, not just at a high level, but with details that help everyone in the business understand how it affects them, their job responsibilities and their own actions. People do not resist change. They resist change they do not understand or they do not agree with. The first step in that process is to clearly define the change so that people will know how to think, act, and prioritize in an organization that is different.
Often, businesses create a series of memos, documents, and communication vehicles that tell the employees about the change. What they sometimes fail to do is help each department or function work through the process of what that communication means for them as a team. People do not understand how to act differently from communication directed at them, they only get there through a series of conversations that are had with them.
Culture might best be defined as the set of organizational habits that currently exist, and habits are hard to change. People will need to think differently, interact differently, learn new skills, create new processes and become less comfortable, at least initially, for change to be successful. That means significant thought needs to be given to how the culture must shift to execute the new strategy or focus. No matter what changes you are trying to execute, if the culture doesn't shift with them, the changes won't happen.
If you want employees to behave differently then leaders have to go first. One of the biggest reasons organizational change fails is that leaders want others to change, but the leaders themselves continue to operate the same way. This sends a series of conflicting messages to the organization that essentially tells employees change is not important and they have implied permission to keep doing things the old way. Leaders must define and execute their own set of new leader behaviors if they want to be a catalyst for change and growth in the business.
Ultimately, organizational change comes down to individual change. No business becomes different if its people don't think and act differently. The greatest lever any organization has to change individual behavior is effective coaching. Businesses with great coaches adapt more quickly, build skills and capabilities faster, improve performance more consistently and achieve greater results. If you are trying to drive organizational change, without effective coaching, you are working way too hard and your chances of success are dramatically diminished.
As organizations grow, structure must grow with it. Silos and functional turf wars can easily develop and changing the structure is part of the way businesses break down these walls and facilitate innovation, communication and collaboration. Businesses should decide on how the organization should be built to maximize success and minimize internal chaos, and use that blueprint to support the changes they are making.
Often organizations profess that they want to operate differently, but leave processes in place that actually inhibit those shifts. We can say that we want to put customer service above internal policies but if we have processes that mean mor work to effectively serve the customer, our employees may choose the path of least resistance and forego the better service because it requires more effort. There are countless examples of an organization being its own greatest enemy when it comes to what they want versus how they are organized from a process standpoint.
There has to be a strong link between who you want to become as an organization and who you hire to help you get there. Do you want risk takers, risk avoiders, complex thinkers or intuitive adapters? You may need all of these types of people depending on the function they work in. In that case it's critical to recruit leaders who can fully engage a diverse employee population and move them forward. Too often, businesses try to lead change without giving enough thought to what the talent needs to look like in the future and they keep recruiting using yesterdays philosophy, while they try to build tomorrows company.
Organizational change happens when you understand the process, plan for the momentum shifts, and know what the next steps are.
4th Gear Consulting will help your organization and the people in it think differently about change and understand how to make it happen faster, more completely and in a sustainable way. We can help your leaders and managers:
- Understand the forces that affect every organizational change
- Learn how to align the forces affecting change to reduce repetition or lack of results associated with many change efforts
- Understand why individual change resistance happens and how to proactively prevent it so that change happens faster and with less cost
- Plan for change, so you can minimize cost and maximize results
- Use current change initiatives to improve and strengthen your business’s ability to drive future changes with less effort
- Build change-ready teams that can quickly make needed shifts and transformations and capture fleeting opportunities in the marketplace