Successful Transformation Starts With Your Employees

Transformation starts with employeesInitiating a transformation is an exciting, or anxiety-inducing, prospect for any organization. In my experience, if you approach change from an internal lens, with a focus on employees, you can leverage that organizational core to build outward based on a strong foundation.

Of course, many organizations will make the mistake of assuming this means that they should provide their employees with “perks” that will make coming to work more enjoyable – and also enable buy-in and adoption of the proposed transformation. Beanbag chairs, ping pong tables, craft beer taps, in-office baristas, workout facilities – these things are all nice. So are flexible work schedules and the freedom to work remotely. But, these benefits don’t typically address the specific change the employees will experience.

The experience your employees will have related to transformation can have a significant impact when it comes to attracting and retaining talent, as well as the overall success of your initiative. Your ultimate goal may be related to your customers (and revenue) but starting with a focus on your employees will lead you directly down that path.

Employees Are Your First Customer

When transformation begins, employees have two main concerns, “Will I have a job?” and “How can this benefit me?”. Your first steps should be to address these concerns and empower your team to succeed under the new paradigm.

However, your employees know their work far better than the highest levels of leadership. In most cases, the C-level and their direct reports can become disconnected from day-to-day delivery. Unfortunately, this division creates gaps in understanding. So, how do you bridge this gap?

In a recent transformation project, we worked with our client to establish a small core team with deep cross-organizational connections, helping us to build solutions based on the wants and needs of the breadth of the organization, related to the transformation. Based on the core team’s institutional knowledge of how the organization works, we were able to uncover small, but impactful, shifts in how they leverage existing expertise, creating greater flexibility and leadership opportunities without making unnecessary disruptions. Their knowledge and our team’s holistic approach simplified their transformation, making it easier for employees to adapt.

Form a Core (Multi-Disciplinary) Team

Leading change with a cross-disciplinary team of high- to mid-level leaders ensures a cohesive perspective from top to bottom. Regardless of where someone sits on an organizational chart, everyone has a shared interest in how the organization operates. Combined with the authority to make decisions and take action, this small team can be nimble enough to adjust to the opportunities and address the challenges that they uncover.

The hard part is keeping the team small enough to be nimble but comprised of internal team members that are knowledgeable about how people work – with a view beyond their specific area of the organization. Understanding how employees want to work will foster better delivery to partners and customers and focusing on the result can help reduce internal politics.

Designing experiences for employees is as important as creating value for customers because they are equally crucial for success, especially through a transformation. Navigate can help your organization approach change with an empathetic mindset, listening to what your employees value and leveraging that to guide you to a more competitive future. Contact me at [email protected] or 484.383.0606 to discuss your transformation initiative and our recommendations.

Rich Ekelman, Manager

Change Management Done Right
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