In leading change together, organizations are able to create the blueprint for sustaining organizational change that allows for cultural transformation.
True transformation comes with sustaining organizational change. Ensure your initiatives have a long-term impact by designing your future with change sustainment in mind.
According to a 2019 Google study, the most effective change programs focus on sustainability before and after the initiative launches.
In this article, we explore change sustainment in the following topics:
- The Need for Change
- Leading Change Through Authorship
- A Model for Sustainable Change
- Focusing on the Future
The Need for Change
From small-scale shifts to large-scale transitions, change is a necessity. Sustainable organizational change can only occur when we recognize our need for it.
By embracing change as part of the process, we’re able to better prepare for what comes next. This willingness to accept change is a key component in creating an environment that sustains change. Learning to respond to the challenges that come with change and designing a change management strategy will encourage long-term growth and acceptance of these changes to allow for long-lasting transformation.
In adopting a willingness to change, explore these best practices for sustaining organizational change management:
1. Clearly define the most pressing problems and take steps to solve them.
2. Change can be unexpected, but the most successful changes occur as a result of the most pressing issues. Kickstart sustainable organizational change by leading with innovation.
3. Transform your organizational culture to fight resistance to change. Company culture defines how an organization experiences change. Lead sustainable organizational change by encouraging your employees to adopt a culture of continual change and an openness to adaptability.
4. Unify your team from the top down.
Leaders must align themselves in their initiatives to communicate changes clearly and effectively. This united front should extend to lower-level team members, so the entire organization is on the same page.
5. Encourage engagement from all parties.
Involving every member of the organization in a change allows leaders and managers the opportunity to understand all aspects of change, including the repercussions. Moreover, company-wide engagement gives team members the chance to be part of the coming changes.
6. Utilize change agents to lead change.
Change agents act as influencers to encourage all employees to buy into a change.
7. Identify critical behaviors and replace bad habits.
Patterns and behaviors are critical to implementing change. Encourage team members to adopt positive behaviors as they integrate new initiatives.
8. Reinforce change with consistent processes.
Continue to reinforce new initiatives to encourage stakeholders to support changes in the long term.
Leading Change Through Authorship
The success of this initial transformational moment is determined by how change is delivered. Transforming your delivery method of change can take on many forms, but the most successful is achieving authorship from team members.
Authorship is the key to co-creating new processes as you invite every member of your organization to participate in the unpredictable process of making change. While the outcome is yet unknown, having the opportunity to shape the future is essential to achieving acceptance and facilitating sustainable organizational change.
As every member works to co-create their new reality, innovation becomes a priority in the co-creation process. Ultimately, facing the unknown together is key to long-term change sustainment.
According to a team member from the startup Anaplan, the military ensures sustainable organizational change by engaging this co-creation process with three areas of focus:
- Preparedness for change
In the military’s approach to change management, each member contributes to their short and long-term goals as they lead change through the ranks, empowering team members and leaders at every level to make important decisions. Thus, in leading change together, organizations can create the blueprint for systemic change that allows for necessary cultural transformation.
A Model for Sustainable Change
For businesses to sustain a willingness to learn and openness to constant change, they need to design a culture driven by change agents.
In developing a model for sustainable organizational change, consider the following strategy:
1.Support from the Top
Accountability is essential for organizational change to take place, starting with executive leadership. Leaders should establish a clear agenda to set the foundation for future success. Team leaders and members should support continuous improvement and development efforts to ensure that desired changes are sustainable and become part of the company’s core culture.
2. Use Change-Sustaining Approaches
When a project ends, and through the lifecycle of a program, organizations must make intentional efforts to sustain such change.
Get Our Change Guide
To make way for change, it’s essential to identify the “why” behind your desire for it. If so, it’s unlikely to last. Is your change aligned with shared values? Does it project a line of sight in a direction you want to head? That’s a promising start.
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3. Shift Paradigms When Needed
A shift in mindset is necessary to ensure sustainable organizational growth. Maintain this shift in mindset by making continuous efforts to discuss the benefits of changes and allow individuals to accept and adjust to their new reality continually.
4. Talk and Communicate
Continual dialogue allows for sustainable organizational change as individuals further understand how certain behaviors, processes, and actions can completely transform an organization.
5. Assimilate and Integrate
Change sustainment can’t happen on its own. Change agents within an organization help shift a company’s culture and allow others to adopt the same readiness for change. These agents act as influencers and help achieve buy-in from other team members when it comes time to implement new initiatives.
6. Invest in Planning for Sustained Results
Planning is the key to every successful strategy for change sustainment. This strategy should include a high level of adaptability that allows an organization to modify its plans accordingly. While the future remains yet unknown, a solid strategy for sustainable organizational growth allows for the greatest innovation.
7. Negotiate Results
With a plan for change in place, team members should assess their readiness for change and tweak their strategies as needed. As new plans are put into practice, team members must still be willing to adapt to changing conditions as they occur.
Focusing on the Future
A change management strategy that allows for the greatest change sustainment accepts the reality that the future will always be unknown. With this uncertainty in mind, organizations can plan for sustainable organizational change by safeguarding against potential challenges.
Target the risks and consequences of a potential change to help your organization ease into the unknown.
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The Futures Wheel is a foresight method that provides a model of the future.
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Adopting a forward-minded perspective doesn’t erase the fear associated with change. In fact, it encourages team members to feel the fear and make changes anyway. By identifying the fears, risks, and rewards associated with change, organizations can shore themselves against the challenges that the future may bring.
Fight common challenges to change in the following ways:
1.Understand the nature of change and its challenges.
Oftentimes, organizations face resistance to new initiatives. Leaders can ensure sustainable organizational change by taking the time to understand why their team members are resisting change.
2. Communicate why change is needed.
In getting your team on board for the future, it’s essential to communicate what changes need to be made clearly. Bring team members on board by using the “What’s in it for me” strategy. This will allow your team to adopt a personal need for change.
3. Encourage early involvement.
By encouraging participation early on in the implementation process, team members will feel responsible for the outcome of the change. This way, change isn’t just something that’s happening to them. It’s something that’s happening because of them.
In identifying these challenges, you can develop the most appropriate strategies to usher in new initiatives. Heading into the future isn’t without its risks. By incorporating your vision with an eagerness for the unknown, you’ll be ready to accept whatever the future may bring.
Need help creating a strategy for change sustainment? Voltage Control can help you and your team define the best path for your organization’s sustainable change.