The emergence of new digital technologies, the changing nature of the workforce and even the effects of the pandemic have created new opportunities as well as challenges for business transformation leaders. Today’s dynamic environment adds an extra level of urgency and complexity with companies increasingly having to respond to sudden shifts in the marketplace and to the new business models that are needed to adapt. The stakes are higher than ever and leadership teams are looking for sure-fire ways to ensure their transformation change programmes land in the 30% that succeed, rather than the 70% that fail (McKinsey).
Your people are vital to a successful change programme
According to McKinsey, many of the reasons for the failure of change programmes relate to the people side of the organisation, with CEO’s often overlooking the importance of building conviction, communicating the believable case for change to get buy in and equipping employees with the skills they need to deliver the change. Here at MGI Learning, it’s our experience that any business transformation program’s success is clearly dependent on the participation and buy-in of those who will be affected by it – those who will be “living” it in the future. Process, technology, policy and structural change will be easier to achieve if these people-focused initiatives are given priority, because your team will be ready, willing, and able to get on board with enthusiasm and commitment.
Five key factors that influence employee mindset and behaviour
After 20 years of delivering transformational change training to support businesses through complex transformation programmes, we find that leaders stand the best chance of long-term success when they focus on five key factors to help positively influence mindset and behaviour during times of change. These are: Awareness, Motivation, Road-mapping, Ability and Reward.
1. Awareness: building understanding of the rationale for change
Individuals accept, adapt to, and engage with change when they believe there is a valid reason for it. A critical first step is to develop a believable case that others can buy into and regard as credible. You’ll be on the right track if you can show a direct link between the change and the benefits that each individual and team will receive if they adopt the new ways of working.
Many transformational change requirements are readily welcomed across the business, however they are often accepted for quite different reasons. Leaders frequently overestimate the extent to which others share their own attitudes, beliefs, and opinions.
Therefore, the case for change may need to be tailored to different departments, teams, or organisational levels, created with the specific employee audience in mind. It’s important to really get under the skin of the teams around the business and provide clear answers to any questions that may be a barrier to engaging with change such as “What does it mean to me and my role?”, What does it mean for the business?”, “Is it worth going through it?” and “What will the benefits be?”
Leaders who craft a rationale focused on these outcomes will enable people in their own area or team, to feel they can believe in the case for change, and that it has value for them personally as well as the business.
2. Motivation: developing conviction to get involved
Once you have built an understanding about the change and why it’s happening, the next step is building conviction to get involved with the journey and to jump in with enthusiasm. The aim here is to help your people to move from “I understand what’s being asked of me” to “I understand what’s being asked of me – it makes sense and I want to be a part of it.” Building trust at this stage is vital and communicating the change honestly and transparently to your people will help to create the culture you need to take change successfully forward into the business. A sense of involvement and a connection with the rationale for change will help your people say “Yes, I’m in because I believe it will make a difference to me and the organisation and it will help me make a difference to others too.”
3. Road-mapping: creating a clear pathway forwards people can embrace
People will jump on board with change if they believe in it – and also if it’s easy to take part. Providing a clear route forward that people can enthusiastically join in with, is essential to carry people along on the journey with you. Leaders need to communicate the process to be followed and set clear expectations of teams, alongside the tailored believable case, to make sure everyone is clear about their role in delivering the change, and how they will be supported to do it.
Role modelling is also vital at this stage to emulate the behaviours needed for successful change. Your people need to see their leaders behaving differently and their colleagues and co-workers modelling the new behaviour. Individuals often consciously align their own thinking and behaviour with those of other people—to learn and to determine what’s right. So, providing a behavioural roadmap as well as a practical activity-based will help your people understand the actions they need to take.
4. Ability: equipping people with the skills they need to behave differently
Once your teams believe that change is required and are bought into it, you can focus on preparing them and providing them with the tools they need to deal with whatever comes their way. Here leaders need to equip their people with the skills they need to behave differently – and ensure they have opportunities to practice and demonstrate the new behaviours in their roles. Teams need to have a collective mindset of ownership and responsibility, optimism, respect for each other and a strong belief that they really can and do make a difference.
We utilise our MGI Mindset, Language and Actions Toolkit with organisations to ensure team members and leaders alike have the skills to:
- Evaluate situations critically and come up with proactive options, alternatives, and solutions
- Self-manage their emotions and reactions to the necessary change
- Create and maintain positive momentum using effective, positive communication and language
- Exhibit high levels of collaboration, co-creation, and cooperation with colleagues and team members.
5. Reward: delivering associations and consequences that shape behaviour
Once your people are involved in the change programme and working towards embracing new behaviours for the long term, leaders need to address the question “Is it worthwhile to keep going and see this through?”. It’s critical for leaders to reinforce and reward changes in behaviour and ensure systems, structures and processes support the changes your people are being asked to make. Offering reward for demonstrating the right behaviours and openly recognising them throughout the programme and beyond, will help to keep up continuous momentum. A rewards programme, coupled with the consistent communication of the positive outcomes being delivered by the change and constant reminders of the personal benefits to be gained, will be a powerful combination to help your people see it through.
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