Every business leader says they’re open to change. But a study by Gallup found that 70% of organizational change initiatives fail.
That means that out of every workweek spent on fostering change, three and a half days are wasted. Most people simply don’t want to change if it can be avoided. Even when things aren’t going well, they prefer the mediocre to the unknown.
Businesses that embrace an organizational culture of change have similar characteristics and are willing to disrupt the status quo to make things happen.
1. Constantly evaluate what can be improved
CEOs that embrace organizational change are always seeking ways to become better. Focus on the weaker parts of your company and brainstorm how they can be better. Organizations that embrace change are like people who are always on a quest to better themselves — they analyze what’s going well and what isn’t, then adjust accordingly. There's a reason why one of the TINYpulse values is "lead with solutions and embrace change."
2. Show what needs to be improved
Talking to employees about weaknesses is important, but you need to go beyond that. Your workforce will have to be convinced that the company needs change.
For example, New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton had his high-ranking cops ride the subways to discover why frightened New Yorkers gave the mass transit system the name “Electric Sewer,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
3. Involve employees in the process
Successful change is typically bottom-up and involves the entire team. Don’t make a plan and then tell employees what you’re going to do. Involve them in the process. Host forums and brainstorming sessions to get employees to buy in from day one.
Once a decision has been formulated, communicate it to the company’s employees as soon as possible. Being transparent about the company’s new direction will be key. One expert says that it’s best to have buy-in from 75% of leadership before moving forward, as noted by the Washington Post.
4. Provide a clear vision of what the future will be like
Although employees should be involved in the process, they look to the executive team to provide guidance. For example, when Robert McNamara was president of the World Bank, he came in with the clear goal of growing the lending side of the organization and switching to a hierarchical bureaucracy, according to Forbes.
Once you’ve hashed out how to approach the change, evaluate if each goal is SMART — specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. This will center your initiative and ensure that goals are focused.
5. Generate smaller objectives
It’s best to have several smaller goals to provide a sense that progress is being made along the way. Communicate with employees when you reach these smaller goals. You may convince skeptical employees who didn’t initially buy in.
Strong CEOs are willing to look in the mirror and decide that things need to change. It’s reasonable to expect that not every initiative you pursue will be successful. Successful companies continue to pursue organizational change despite these failings.