Organizational change is a big topic, particularly for enterprise companies that are trying to stay ahead of disruptive, nimble startups (among other upstarts). It’s one of those things you need to really cut up into bite-size pieces to make any headway. I think we really accomplished that at the recent event featuring Actionable Consulting’s Founder Chris Taylor, speaking about The Engaged Organization.
It was a fun, interesting start to a conversation that I’m really hoping to continue on this platform. Last time, I laid out four big takeaways from the evening. I’m going to cover off the rest of what I found intriguing. Do watch the video. Let me know what you think in the comments. Let’s keep talking!
Engaged organizations lesson 5. It’s great when the employee is aligned with the company’s goals, but that’s not the only way to get engagement
Taylor got to an interesting anecdote at about the 30-minute mark, talking about a woman who wasn’t particularly passionate about banking, who got a job at a bank. This person knew that the organization had a dedicated role that handled philanthropy, including charity for a cause she cared about deeply. She got the job at the bank to make a difference, that way.
It was a roundabout, perhaps unlikely way for someone to follow their passion, but it underlined that alignment with a company can come in different ways. “It’s alignment about a particular aspect of that work or the role itself, or the growth opportunity within it,” Taylor said. Clearly, some prospective employees are thinking deeply about the future. There’s more than one way to crack the egg of engagement.
Engaged organizations lesson 6. Consider capacity
Let’s imagine an employee who seems, at least on paper, perfectly suited for a role and who clearly gets a lot of enjoyment from doing the work that’s in the formal job description. OK, great – but how much time are they really spending on that job?
As Taylor reminded us, employees in so many fields today are inundated with emails, phone calls, chat invites, Slack updates, Skype calls, Twitter updates, newsletters… you name it! Left unchecked, these distractions can seriously cut into the work that the employee actually enjoys doing.
Not every employee starts out with top-notch time management skills and organizational processes. As such, this is one area of soft skills development that’s critical for many. In my time working with so many companies to get processes and people in place for success, it’s certainly been one area where I’ve seen dramatic and positive results. I’m glad he mentioned it.
Engaged organizations lesson 7. Organizational change never ends
Because in business, you’re either taking strategic sprints to disruption, running to stand still or just falling behind whenever you get complacent. In any business worth doing, any sector worth mentioning, technology is enabling disruption at a rate we’ve just never seen before.
“Change is not something we put up with and do for a period of time and then say thank God it’s over,” Taylor points out. Perhaps no one will know what form the change will take in your organization a year or two from now. But a company that has processes in place, perhaps even a ‘Skunk Works’-style R&D department with a dedicated leadership and budget that’s constantly experimenting, is ahead of the game. A company that can create that kind of culture of innovation from the bottom up is even more prone to beating its competitors.
Engaged organizations lesson 8. Organizational change takes commitment from the top
You probably won’t get everybody on board. You almost certainly won’t. It’s rare for organizational change to truly encompass an entire company. There will always be some who are resistant to change.
That was the thought behind my question to Taylor of how you shift a leader or manager’s frame of mind, so they’re more open to change? How do you get them to not feel threatened? How do you convince the organization that this change is valuable and is not just ethereal, liable to fade away with a slight shift in the winds?
“What we see time and again is that going to the top as high as possible for someone who will embrace this philosophy around checking in with individuals, making sure that there’s some sort of alignment and continuing to support and foster that,” he replied.
It’s about leading by example. Get at least some of the people with real authority in the organization to embrace the change and you can help make it happen from the top down. (I’m a believer in making change happen from the bottom up as well, organically, through training and guidance, – and Taylor is too, from what I can see). There’s no denying that a top-down approach where leaders actually lead the change can be an effective way to do it.
There was so much more packed into this hour-long presentation that I would probably need to write a longer series to cover all of it. But this covers the major lessons I took away from it. I’d love to know what you thought. Do check out the video and leave a comment
If you represent a large business or enterprise organization and are interested in creating organizational change in a measurable, actionable way, do get in touch!