We all know the old saying, knowledge is power. As organizations face the daunting task of grappling with the immense pressures to transform rapidly, our ability to secure the right knowledge and apply it correctly has never been more critical to organizational success.
From the intensified war on talent, to the complexities of hybrid and remote work, to the impact of technology revolutions needing to be embraced, to real global catastrophe threats; failure to have foresight and embrace change pro-actively will compromise our competitive performance and lead to organizational swift demise.
How the workplace will change in coming Years
Strategy formulation or review will no longer simply be an annual event. It’s not good enough any longer to just go through the motions of further iterations of defining our mission and values, doing insightful SWOT analysis, setting our sights clearly on the fit for purpose goals and objectives as well staying on track with precise performance measures and targets. It’s about getting and valuing feedback from the broadest range of expert sources and stakeholders constantly. Feeding this swiftly into strategic revisions for creative adaptation. Leaders must therefore be acutely in touch with the pulse of the organization. Plus, they cannot fear changing course immediately once the new need becomes visible and irrefutable.
The good news is that the basic mechanics of embracing change in the workplace have not changed. Most competent leaders have the right skill set to achieve this. The increased challenge is in dealing with the rapid pace of change whilst concurrently acquiring, assimilating and using the right knowledge correctly. Leadership will need to be nimbler than ever before at scanning the environment, astute decision making and exercising not only business acumen but distinct wisdom in choices. This includes recognizing that the well-being and destiny of employees and the organizations will be more closely intertwined than ever before.
There can be no doubt the stakes have risen exponentially as leaders attempt to balance new external pressures and forces with increased internal demand by employees for different approaches within the workplace. How to embrace change in an organization has therefore become the ability to walk a tightrope of interests. From diversity and inclusion imperatives to radical customer profile changes and expectation shifts. More sophisticated leadership is essential to maintain focus and direction for optimal organizational outcomes. In addition, with the entrenchment of hybrid work as mainstream, flexibility, autonomy and new methods of employee engagement and evaluation will become central to work design to embrace change.
The bottom line is that companies that embrace change will need leadership that understands that it is now never a case of business as usual again. Collaborative excellence in execution is the only way forward as they strive to unleash untapped potential on both organizational and employee fronts.
Clever hints on how to deal with changes in the workplace
We can either become enthusiastic about inevitable changes in the workplace embracing change or we can try to opt out. For those leaders in organizations that no longer waste time asking “why should I embrace change” given the ample wisdom to embrace change, guidance is available for optimal results.
1. Set new goals regularly
We must still formulate goals on the basis of being specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound (i.e., SMART goals). However, unless these are meaningful and enjoy acceptance by all, the passion to execute with the necessary resilience and resolve will dissipate quickly. Companies that embrace change understand the merits of sharing their vision and aspirations. This is all part of helping employees to embrace change and align their thinking and career plans.
2. Write down the worst scenario
Organizations must share critical performance indicators creating a compelling case for change to help employees embrace change. They must know what new services or products are featuring on the organizational radar. This is critical to avert any looming crisis and mobilize the right responses from everyone. This is especially the case if new departments or downsizing is inevitable. Early consultation and sharing highlights the new skills and talents needed to avoid the worst-case scenario.
4. Stay connected to previous co-workers
Having the right networks expands organizational and personal work horizons together with presenting potential new business opportunities. Invariably people who have worked in a number of organizations have broad experience and deep insights to share. Active focus on learning and expanding our learning opportunities is a skill that is enhanced by staying in touch. To fully embrace change we must share organizational and personal stories on transitioning as an enabler to getting the right results.
5. Take advantage of new opportunities
Be they large and small. Once we get everyone to understand the benefits of changes we initiate, this becomes a key weapon in success. Leaders and employees with a “can do” attitude and that are hugely enthusiastic about overcoming the odds are indispensable to companies that embrace change. This stimulates an entrepreneurial spirit. The original and ongoing life blood of any organization. Results flowing from new opportunities will lead to people throughout the organization always being on the lookout for more.
6. Communicate with early adopters
They have lessons to impart on what works well to implement and how not to repeat mistakes. Early adopters are the trail blazers that model how to embrace change in the workplace. Understanding their motivations will spark your desire to venture and take more calculated risks. Irrespective of whether there have been wins or losses, early adopters shine a light on the positive possibilities in situations that are worth taking a gamble for.
7. Control workload
Embracing change in every organization requires balance to be sustainable. It is important to pace change so that the organization does not become overwhelmed. Change must be built into new business platforms and employees will take some time to master new skills etc. Time management tools, effective delegation, clear communication and setting boundaries all help to avoid burnout. Control equals correct judgements on not to take on too much too soon.
9. Accept and adjust to what you can’t control
An orientation that allows you to focus only on what you are accountable for. This empowering approach that acknowledges that everyone is in a different phase as they attempt to embrace change that may be difficult. Greater satisfaction follows when we are realistic about only having the power to change ourselves not others and concentrate on where we are able to add value.
10. Always think long-term
Given the mechanics of change things tend not to move in one direction consistently. Change is a process that is both intentional and unfolding. We need to maintain a line of sight to our goals to effectively navigate the twists and turns of change. This manifests as commitment through chaos and its worth remembering that many times as we look back, what seemed scary at the time is no more. It’s simply growth.
11. Don’t hesitate to ask for help
Organizations that embrace change in the workplace know the value of using consultants, coaches and change advisers. They have been where we are and mastered the art of getting through the messy bits of change. Their constructive feedback and guidance are like treasures. We need not walk a change path alone if things are unclear or complex. Others, given the opportunity, are eager to assist us to embrace change in business.
13. Increase communication
Leaders must try to ensure everyone has a voice in changes in the workplace. Discussion, although tricky at times, will often clear the way for better results when everyone is involved or at a minimum invited to give input to making improvements. Organizations with an ability to incorporate a range of ideas in a change process will excel. This will also enhance a sense of inclusion and belonging.
12. Re-work your goals
Once everyone is clear on the long-term goals and vision of the company, plus appreciate the importance and benefits to them personally, they can align their response constructively. Leaders with clear goals will also find it easier to communicate effectively with their team members, take their feedback and share insights back to the leadership/change management group. Everyone at all levels in the organization needs to value being open to different thinking as the hallmark of embracing change.
14. Stay flexible
This ensures organizations deal maturely with the unforeseen. Being flexible is part of being reactive to the most valid new information or events as they unfold. We also all appreciate that influencing and being influenced is part of embracing change where often compromise and creativity is essential to move forward.
15. Celebrate small wins
This is critical to sustaining momentum. We should not underestimate the toll changes in the workplace take on many of us. We need to be reinvigorated. Celebration creates unity through appreciation. Any opportunity for a bit of fun and laughter is a just reward and a nice thank you.
16. Stay positive
This mindset allows us to preserve and demonstrate confidence not only in ourselves, but others and the organization. Embracing change is about having faith and believing that change will deliver what is essentially needed or good. Staying positive enables us to look beyond short-term setbacks and overcome them.
17. Share your outcomes
This helps other departments and employees to embrace change by understanding what went well, badly or needs to be adapted. It is also a chance to crystalize thinking and get input as part of collective learning which is key. Sharing is both generous and enriching, expanding our collective horizons as we seek to connect especially within those that are affected by our outcomes. Others are also likely to be encouraged.
18. Be the first to initiate change
None of us really wants to be a passenger in our own life and it feels far better to act than react. Most of us want to do something worthwhile and even leave a legacy. So initiating change before it is demanded will invariably validate our uniqueness, give better scope for us to use our talents and be part of us unleashing our prized potential. We are in control when we are trailblazers and become change champions.
From a strategic point of view, individuals and organizations need to embrace their mutual interest in any change process to execute it optimally. With an unclear ever shifting future it is critical to stay on top of the game. The greater the pro-active collaboration on embracing change, the more chance there will be that both organizations and people win. The challenge remains to bring the most important things together and make wise choices based on future oriented knowledge.