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4 Steps to a Culture of Change

Today's post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member and HR Bartender Sharlyn Lauby. Here she shares her advice for creating a culture of change in your organization.

Change has probably never been a bigger part of our lives. Individually, we're dealing with both personal and professional change every day. It could be working remotely. Or being asked to work on different projects. Maybe even finding ourselves facing a job change.

Organizations are facing change too. They have to decide if and when to bring employees back to the workplace. It's possible that they will have to review and revise policies and procedures to keep employees safe and well. Maybe even make some very tough decisions about employee headcounts and operational expenses.

Last year during KronosWorks, I sat on a panel discussion with Martin Armstrong, a fellow Workforce Institute board member and vice president of payroll shared services at Charter Communications. The conversation was about the future of work, but Martin mentioned during his comments the four qualities for managing organizational change. I ran across them the other day and realized that these qualities are not only relevant for leading technological change but just leading any type of change.

Step 1) Align change within the organization. For any type of change to be successful, it needs to align with organizational goals and strategies. Right now, businesses are trying to be as flexible and agile as possible. That makes the need for alignment even more critical.

Step 2) Build quality relationships. This applies to every level of the operation. If the organization wants to achieve its goals, then it takes people. And the only way people will be able to successfully work together is if they have good working relationships.

Step 3) Communicate and collaborate. The cornerstone of building good relationships (see #2) is communication. The better we communicate; the more others will trust our messages. And the better feedback we will receive from others.

Step 4) Provide role autonomy. The primary role of managers and supervisors is to set performance expectations with employees and then give them the space to do their jobs. Organizations demonstrate that they trust their teams and it shows in the results.

If we connect all four steps together, it makes total business sense that this is how change happens in the organization: 1) Change efforts are aligned with business goals. 2) People within the organization build good working relationships. 3) Positive work teams trust and collaborate with each other. 4) Managers allow employees to make things happen.

Organizations that try to micromanage a change effort are going to get real tired, very fast. And there's no guarantee that the change effort will be successful anyway. Real results happen when employees are given the freedom to help the organization make change work.

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