Leaders: Stop Trying to ‘Drive’ Organisational Change – There Is a Better Way (Clue: Change is a Team Sport)

You are operating in the realm of organisational change, where the key to success lies within your own workforce. As a business leader in today’s organisations, you are under pressure to accelerate transformation. You know and understand the critical role colleagues play in driving sustainable change. But you just can’t get people to change fast enough…

In this article, we explore the significance of involving employees in organisational change and how your organisation can benefit from their knowledge and commitment as a means to accelerate change. We firmly believe that involving people at the heart of change, not landing it on them, unleashes the full potential of your colleagues and is a far better way to navigate transformation at speed.

Communication and engagement are not enough, we need involvement

Research from Kotter and McKinsey, among others, suggests that the failure rate of large transformations to achieve their original objectives is around 70%. That’s a colossal waste of time, energy and resources. Worse still, because the transformation is not successful, a new programme gets rolled out which makes the same mistakes and increases change fatigue without making a material difference. You would think we would have learned by now that the approaches we have been taking don’t work… 

In our change consulting work, from SMEs to PLCs, we often see leaders and organisations relying on top-down communication, or dialogue-driven engagement programmes to ‘drive’ change. These both have a role to play. But neither is sufficient – we need to involve people and give them the ability to shape the change, their experience of it and how it gets done.

At one level, this is simply understanding how our brains are wired and respond to change. We need to see it as a reward and not a threat for it to be easy to adopt. But this is rarely the case and so we need to approach change in a way that helps colleagues to explore, interpret and get involved in change. 

Change is actually a team sport. If we recognise the expertise and creativity of our colleagues, involve them and leverage their collective skills we can unlock even greater performance and speed of transformation than we could have imagined. 

Commitment and ownership: involving your team for success

At the heart of successful organisational change is a sense of involvement to create commitment and ownership among your colleagues. By listening to their ideas and concerns, you give them a voice and the opportunity to co-create solutions with you. When colleagues feel valued, respected and trusted, they are more likely to embrace the change. You are much more likely to create a shared vision that aligns with their aspirations and goals, leading to higher levels of commitment and motivation throughout your organisation. By involving them actively in the change process, you empower them to take ownership of the transformation and become advocates for its success.

Trust and alignment: empowering your team to make change happen

Building trust through transparency and alignment by finding shared meaning is the bedrock of successful change. By openly sharing information and providing regular updates, you foster a culture of transparency and build trust. Exploring the change from everyone’s perspective ensures that colleagues understand the reasons behind the change, its objectives, and the benefits it will bring, as well as the concerns and challenges which need to be overcome. By actively listening to their perspectives and inviting their ideas to tackle the change successfully, you strengthen the bond between leaders and colleagues, promoting alignment and buy-in from the entire organisation.

Skills and support: cultivating learning and growth

Organisational change often requires colleagues to acquire new skills or enhance existing ones. Learning how to thrive through change is in itself a necessary skill in today’s world. By investing in their development, you equip them with the tools needed to navigate the evolving landscape successfully. Providing training programs, workshops, change coaching and mentoring opportunities helps colleagues build the necessary change and other competencies required for future success. By fostering a learning culture, you empower employees to adapt and thrive in the face of change. As employees gain confidence in their new abilities, they become catalysts for innovation and progress, driving the organisation forward and accelerating transformation.

Storytelling and successes: amplify achievements together

Recognising and celebrating milestones and successes throughout the change journey is vital for sustaining motivation and morale. By acknowledging individual and team achievements, you inspire a sense of accomplishment and pride among employees, and reinforce that change is already taking root. Celebrations can take various forms, from storytelling to public recognition, to rewards and incentives. By shining a light on progress, you reinforce the positive impact colleagues are having on the change process. Such stories foster a supportive and encouraging environment, ensuring that employees remain engaged and committed to the transformation.

Evaluation and adaptation: navigating change with agility

Organisational change is an ongoing process that requires continuous evaluation and adaptation. Encourage a culture of learning and improvement by seeking regular feedback from employees. Solicit their insights and suggestions for refining the change initiative. By incorporating their feedback and ideas, you demonstrate that their opinions matter and contribute to the organisation’s success. As a leader, embrace an agile mindset that allows for flexibility and adjustments along the way, recognising that you don’t have all the answers or the best ideas. By remaining responsive and adaptable, you also ensure that the change being delivered remains aligned with the evolving needs of your organisation.


Conclusion: Building an involvement culture is the key to unlocking successful transformation and change

Involving employees in designing and executing organisational change is not just a strategy; it’s the most powerful way to unlock the full potential and energy of your organisation. 

By fostering ownership and commitment, building trust and alignment, investing in skill development and support, telling success stories and celebrating milestones, and continuously evaluating and adapting, you position your organisation for accelerated success. 

Remember, your people are the driving force behind meaningful change. Unleashing the collective brilliance that lies within your organisation is challenging – but is it a choice you can afford not to make?

If you think building a culture of involvement could benefit you, your team and your organisation, we can help. We work with leaders in a range of different industries to help unlock the energy, creativity and collaboration of their organisations and would be delighted to do the same for you. 

We provide coaching, mentoring, team coaching, storytelling and change programmes to help develop these critical leadership skills. 

Would you like to know more? Why not get in touch today by sending me an email at joss@changeoasis.com and let’s discuss how we can help you.

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