Change is important. Change can transform an agency and its people. But you must also be very careful when implementing "Change". When bringing in "Change"... social services agencies and non profits in the social sector need to be clearer about their aspirations, more intentional in defining their approaches, more rigorous in gauging their progress, more willing to admit mistakes, more capable of quickly adapting and improving-all with an unrelenting focus on improving lives.
This article comes to us from our friend at Open Minds, Monica E. Oss, Chief Executive Officer. The article describes 6 leadership secrets that must be adopted to ensure a successful change.
Yesterday, my focus was on the leadership challenges of ever-shorter service line life cycles, and rapidly shifting competitive advantage (see ‘Victory Is Fleeting. Losing Is Forever' all members). The end of the piece spoke of the requirement of leaders to embrace the need for speed – the time frames for action in our field (and many areas of commerce) have changed. Timing does matter – and just like in martial arts, when all other things are equal, speed is the deciding factor. Speed is a key part of competitive advantage.
The question is, how to facilitate organizational change rapidly. A recent article by Ken Blanchard and Scott Blanchard in Fast Company, 6 Steps For Successfully Bringing Change To Your Company, provides a framework for facilitating organizational transformation. The focus is on six steps that need to be addressed (and addressed in order) to get teams operating from the same playbook, and on the same timeline.
Beat communication breakdown – A leader needs to be able to explain the organization's strategy – and the drivers of strategic change – to anyone in the organization, no matter the level or their position in the organization. To facilitate change, the leader needs to be the one to set the tone and provide the information needed to the ranks. Otherwise, the natural (and possibly destructive) forces of rumor will do it for you.
Get personal – Communicating "the facts" about strategic changes isn't enough. An effective leader needs to be able to translate those changes into how this will affect every member of the team. Why? Because the "imagined" effects of organizational change may be worse than the reality. And the effective leader manages those perceptions.
Plan your action – Strategic direction isn't enough. Every strategic plan needs an implementation plan - a plan that is grounded in reality. Does your organization have the right team? Enough capital? Required expertise? Successful leadership requires the confidence of your team in your ability to execute.
Sell the change with "progress reports" – As organizational change evolves, leaders need to "keep the fire hot" through the early stages of a new strategy. And, nothing sells like success. Pointing out the success of the new strategy – to prevent "change fatigue" – is essential.
Use progress to build collaboration – With progress comes momentum and the opportunity to get more of your team "on board" with the change.
Refine for success – With any organizational change in a volatile environment, the idea of a strategic initiative as a final "destination" is a misnomer. Constant change is the new normal – and the leader needs to set the stage for continuous organizational evolution.
This six-step "plan for change" is a great approach to implementing any system change – from new services to new technology to new customers. Time consuming, of course. But, I am reminded of the Eleanor Roosevelt quote, "It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan."