Each piece of the journey requires equal amount of investment and attention. But the VISION is what will drive these elements through to the finish line and embed a successful and sustainable change. Change leaders need to use the change vision as a compass to provide direction, create alignment across departments, and connect the change purpose to organisational strategy.
Integrating Wants & Needs
To create a clear and meaningful vision for change, there should be passion and purpose behind it. There needs to be agreement on what the right things to focus on are, as well as a shared understanding of the bigger picture to generate a sense of collective responsibility.
“Purpose is no longer a buzz word. It’s a must have. Passion and purpose will keep people focused on the job at hand, and ultimately separate the successful from the unsuccessful.” Richard Branson
The most successful change leaders find ways to correlate the wants and needs of the organisation with those of its people. They align the broader organisational goals to individual objectives – helping every person to understand the important part they play. Research shows there is a substantial positive impact on an organisation when employees can see how their work contributes to the company’s vision (Forbes 2014). When people share in a common strategic goal they are more motivated and satisfied in their careers, and more likely to work to their full potential to achieve those goals (Berson et al., 2015).
This is especially important today given the diversity of experience and interest across the modern workforce – from Baby Boomers to Millennials and the near arrival of Generation Z. As the growing mix of generations continues to evolve workplace dynamics, it is critical for leaders to understand how to motivate and inspire across the board in order to create cohesion and promote high performance. Highly effective change leaders create communication channels through each level of the organisation and continuously develop new ways to adapt to the different needs of the changing workforce.
For example, an innovative way to encourage learning and facilitate cross‐generational relationships is reverse mentoring. Reverse mentoring – where experienced executives are paired with younger employees – promotes effective knowledge sharing in areas such as technology, social media and digital trends, in order to combine new perspectives with fundamental expertise. This provides an avenue for integrating senior leaders with the next generation of millennials entering the workforce in a positive way, ensuring this next generation feels part of the foundation as well.
In addition, a business study published just last year revealed that millennials are willing to give up $7600 in salary for a job that provides more purposeful work (Forbes, 2017). And, an impressive 70 percent of millennials are willing to spend more with brands that support causes they care about (Schroeder, 2017). Leaders who take the time to understand and capitalise on these factors, by actively listening to what drives individuals and teams, will support a company’s evolutionary success through change.
A Deeper Understanding
Once you’ve established your vision, the next step is communicating it to the masses. Recent research shows an often-prevalent debate about who has the job of communicating a company’s vision. Many believe it is the CEO’s job. But in the highest performing organisations, every leader should see it as their responsibility to “own” and communicate it. When the communication comes from all leaders AND from a variety of platforms, the possibility of having the vision embraced and executed increases substantially (Forbes 2014).
This is about more than a headline or feature page in your monthly newsletter. It’s about utilising multiple forums to ensure your message is reaching everyone, and creating a shared understanding on a logical and emotional level throughout your organisation. Studies show that it is the combination of rational and emotional motivators that support the implementation of successful change strategies (Kotter, 2005).
“Some may be swayed by rhetoric while others want cold hard facts to buy in.” (Peter Stark, author)
In today’s global and diverse workforce, it is essential for leaders to be able to create a sense of urgency for new change behaviours without also increasing fear. This highlights the importance of communication skills in multiple “languages” – literally and figuratively speaking. Understanding how to motivate and inspire your team as a change leader is key in delivering the most effective communication method for their buy in.
“You need to show people something that addresses their anxieties, that accepts their anger, that is credible in a very gut-level sense, and that evokes faith in the vision.” (Kotter, J)
Traditional delivery methods like written, verbal and visual communication methods are only a few ways to spread the vision message. Leadership visibility and role modelling are perhaps the most important for your teams to sense the passion and impact that they too can have in bringing a vision to life. In essence, change leaders must demonstrate clear and concise strategic messages – keeping it simple – whist also embracing the power of storytelling to help bring the vision to life.
If you can sell them on the future benefits and the importance of their role in it, there are numerous advantages. They will be more likely to:
- Generate their own ideas
- Feel empowered to contribute & make a difference
- Take accountability for delivering results
- Maintain a resilient mind-set during the tougher times
- Have a sense of camaraderie & togetherness
Revitalise & Energise
The greatest change vision in the world can and will still be met with some level of resistance. Change can be challenging and takes a significant investment of time and effort to embed.
Successful change strategies give focus to effective follow through and performance measurement from the start. Change leaders need to integrate these messages into training and human resource initiatives to connect people with their personal and team development & performance metrics, and promote a sense of achievement along the way as progress is made. This will help to revitalise the change vision and re-energise people towards their role in delivering it.
Ways of bringing this to life include defining specific milestones to celebrate even the small successes – ensuring that these are effectively communicated to promote continued learning and motivation across the business. Some examples that change leaders can implement to re-energise and re-engage their teams are:
- Continue to connect developmental goals to professional AND personal milestones – this will tie emotional appeal in with their unique vision of success
- “Show and Tell” sessions – sharing success stories / challenges combines knowledge sharing while encouraging team collaboration
- Recognise and reward individuals and teams who come up with smart solutions and positive change results
The key is to be clear on the deliverables and expectations of people through transparency and routine feedback sessions to ensure understanding and capitalise on potential opportunities. Studies have shown that employees who see that their work creates positive impact are more likely to feel fulfilled, promote their company and stay on the job longer (HBR 2015).
Are you articulating a clear and compelling purpose to help your people understand your change vision?
Have you aligned change goals to individual, team, and organisational objectives?
Do you use milestones to measure and revitalise the positive impact of change?
Answering the WHY to change…This is the fourth and final blog in the series of four Change Readiness pieces from Changing Point.
Find out more about Changing Point and how we can support your organisation be more innovative and change ready.
Berson, Y., Halevy, N., Sharmir, B. & Erez, M. (2015). Leading from different psychological distances: A construal-level perspective on vision communication, goal setting and follower motivation. The Leadership Quarterly, 26, 1143 – 155.
Written by Jayne Ruff
Jayne Ruff, Occupational Psychologist & Managing Director at Changing Point. To find out more about how Changing Point can help you align minds to transform your business, get in touch.
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