In our “Adapting to Change” blog series, we’ve discussed all the important steps to bringing fundamental shifts to your organization. We’ve highlighted the importance of recognizing when there is a need for change, communicating the need for change and inspiring employees, maintaining momentum, and setting attainable benchmarks to induce progress. To close out our series, it’s time to commit to permanent transformation. How can we make changes last for good?
Make Changes Last: Reinforcing a New Culture
It’s easy to slip back into old institutional habits, particularly when changing behaviors takes a lot of work. In the end, though, it’s crucial to stay consistent. It’s not just the behaviors that need to change, after all: it’s the entire company culture.
Don’t let the systems and policies that have worked well to usher in change go stagnant. Did encouraging creativity result in better ideas and a team that felt valued for their contributions? Make changes last by setting aside a few days per month or per quarter for problem solving sessions. Did setting attainable benchmarks work to motivate staff? Keep them going, even after measurable goals have been met. (You can always set more!) And don’t let your communication with your team suffer! It took tremendous effort on your part–and trust on theirs–to get to this point.
Letting your hard-fought changes slide back to the beginning, even if the initial problem has been met, can drastically harm the morale of your company. Not only does it create the same culture that allowed the problem to develop or fester in the first place, but it shows your team that their efforts and ideas don’t ultimately matter. Putting systems in place to keep energy moving in the right direction should be a very high priority for continued success.
Make Changes Last: Accepting Change as a Constant
Perhaps the only guarantee in the lifespan of your company is this: problems are bound to arise. The problem that fueled this adaptation in your business is likely not the first, and certainly won’t be the last. Having the necessary tools to adapt to change and to healthily respond to challenges at all levels is key to success. If your team knows that it can respond effectively to challenges, then teamwork and goal-setting and communication become easier the more they’re practiced–a crucial response when the next problem comes along.
In their book Our Iceberg Is Melting, John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber describe a transformed team this way: “[The] most remarkable change of all was in how so many members…had grown less afraid of change, were learning the specific steps needed to make any large adjustment to new circumstances, and worked well together to keep leaping into a better and better future.”
A team that can make changes last is healthy: they possess commitment to effectiveness and performance, they value and trust in one another, and they can adapt to a variety of situations. This step might be one of the more challenging aspects of adapting to change, but in the end it’s also likely the most important.
Employee Development Systems delivers results-oriented training programs that increase productivity, effectiveness, & performance.
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