Helping employees through change

Posted on Jun 18, 2019

The only constant we can be certain of is change. As we prepare to
move into a new decade, the companies that will win in the 2020s
are the ones that are proactively designed to adapt to the world’s
constantly shifting realities.
These realities will include the wider roll out of artificial intelligence,
a more diverse workforce, an ever-greater emphasis on data
protection and strictly enforced regulations designed to protect the

How ready are you and how can you get ready?

Many, if not the vast majority of businesses and organisations, have
deeply entrenched workflow systems that are underpinned by
decades-old hierarchies. Deconstructing or even just mildly
disrupting these systems can actually lead to further entrenchment,
if not full-blown resistance.
With the need to change in mind, how do you actually go about it?
It’s all about your people – all of your people. A newly published
“cultural audit” of An Garda Síochána found that “change has not
landed at the front line”. This is a hugely common barrier to change.
The people at c-level are briefed on the new processes, with a full
understanding of the whys and the hows, but staff further down the
line are left out. How can change happen in an environment that
lacks inclusion and genuine buy-in?
The cultural audit of gardaí revealed “scepticism” towards the
force’s newly designed Modernisation of Renewal Programme. After
all the hard work of examining the change you need, followed by
initial attempts to implement it, this kind of scepticism from the bulk
of your staff is the last thing you want to come up against.

The science of organisational change


New research from the Boston Consulting Group examines the
science of organisational change. It found that traditional
approaches to cultural transformation are not that effective.
The research found that only about one in four transformations
succeeds in the – and the success rate has been trending
downward. So, how can you make sure you are the one in that four?

Successful implementation of change


The global consultancy group identified five components to ensure
the successful implementation of change. They are:
  • Ground change programmes in evidence
  • De-average change strategies according to the nature of the challenge at hand
  • Embrace uncertainty and complexity in change management
  • Use technology to identify the right talent to execute change
  • Tap into emerging science to enhance change programmes

Helping your employees to change


After you’ve decided on your transformation programme, how do
you roll out change on the ground? In an article for the
Harvard Business Review, Bryan Walker, managing director of global design
company IDEO, wrote about how a 33-year-old Indian
pharmaceutical company transformed itself.
Dr Reddy’s produces affordable generic medication and has more
than 20,000 employees in 27 different countries. Decision-making at
the company had grown more complicated and parts of the
company had become misaligned.
Its CEO, GV Prasad, needed to make Dr Reddy’s culture nimbler and
more innovative. He hired IDEO to learn about the needs of
everyone at the company to create a common purpose. Everyone –
from shop-floor workers and scientists to external partners and
investors – was consulted.
Eventually, the purpose was pared down to four words: “Good health
can’t wait.”

Leading by example


And this is where things got interesting. Instead of plastering this
new slogan on motivational posters and repeating it in all-hands
meetings, the leadership team began by quietly using it to start
guiding their own decisions. The goal was to demonstrate this idea
in action, not talk about it.
Prasad saw a change in the company culture right away. “After we
introduced the idea of ‘good health can’t wait’, one of the scientists
told me he developed a product in 15 days and broke every rule
there was in the company. He was proudly stating that.
“Normally, just getting the raw materials would take him months,
not to mention the rest of the process for making the medication.
But he was acting on that urgency. And now he’s taking this lesson
of being lean and applying it to all our procedures.”
If you want to help your employees through inevitable change:
  • Base your plan in evidence
  • Embrace technology
  • Avoid mandates

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