I’m loving this conversation about high performing companies and organizational change. ICYMI – A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about how high performing companies manage change well. Then someone on Twitter asked me to elaborate – so I wrote a post how high performing companies manage change. Well, I’ve received another question. This one about how to implement change itself.
How quickly should change be implemented? Many times management doesn’t communicate a timeline, reason, or outline for the change but expects the team to switch gears mid-project and never look back or question why.
It’s a very valid point. When we’re creating organizational change, we need to explain the reasons for the change. In my experience, organizational changes don’t happen overnight and they usually don’t require people to drop everything and, as the reader said, “switch gears mid-project.”
However, there are times when a project change or an emergency does require us to make a swift and dramatic shift. But those aren’t usually “organizational” changes. They might be procedural or project-based. They are typically in reaction to something. An example would be: We learned yesterday that we need to have our draft proposal ready two days earlier than expected. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to work over the weekend to deliver on time.
Organizational changes are traditionally large in scope and the signs that are prompting the change have been brewing over time. Not to make excuses, but I think that’s one of the reasons management gets accused of not communicating change well. They been watching the signs for weeks or months. Maybe they’ve been sworn to secrecy about the pending change. The decision isn’t a big deal for them because they’ve seen it coming. But for employees, it’s a big deal. And it needs to be communicated effectively.
I interviewed Dr. John Kotter a few years ago about creating organizational change. I thought his comments about creating organizational buy-in are so important. When companies are trying to create change, one of the ways to prepare people for the change is by having discussions to create buy-in.
If organizations take the time to create buy-in, change can actually take place faster. By having those buy-in conversations, employees are getting used to the idea. When it’s time to implement, they’ve (hopefully) gotten over the anger, disappointment, etc. associated with the change. They’re ready to move on. Conversely, companies that don’t create buy-in, have to first deal with getting everyone on the same page then implementing the change.
How fast (or slow) a company implements change is entirely up to them and the change they’re trying to make. But if you’re looking to make change quickly, it does make sense is to accelerate the process by creating buy-in.
Image taken at the Paris Las Vegas hotel by Sharlyn Lauby