Siri Maldonado, Director People Engagement, talks about the importance of integrating change resiliency into organizational cultures and how doing so can build companies that thrive even during the most challenging times.
At Harbinger, we have been at the forefront of change and are seeing a shift in how change is successfully enabled. While change management consultants like us are needed to develop and execute a change management and learning strategy, organizations have a growing responsibility to enable change by embedding a change resilient culture. Consultants will always have a role to play; we are there to guide by providing the tools and resources required for them to be successful. Organizations, however, need to do the heavy lifting to achieve sustained change and achieve their desired results.
What is change resiliency and why does change resiliency matter? Change resiliency is the ability to adapt to adversity or times of significant stress. If the pandemic has shown us anything, it is how the ability to rebound, or bounce back after a challenge is incredibly important. Overnight, organizations around the world had to revaluate their business strategies and ways of working. Very few thrived, but those that did experienced exponential growth, increased productivity, and stable or increasing employee engagement levels.
How does change resiliency contribute to a positive Organizational Culture? Organizational Culture is defined as the social order of an organization. It consists of values, expectations, and practices that guide and inform behaviours within the company. If an organization includes change resiliency in its culture, it will be able to not only sustain change, but help employees feel and perform their best.
Unfortunately, developing and defining organizational cultures is not easy. In fact, contrary to popular belief, culture work doesn’t have an end or start date. As you will learn more below, embedding change resiliency into your Organizational Culture is ongoing and takes effort.
To help you with this process, I’ve included my top ten tips on how to embed change resiliency into organizational culture below.
1. Leaders must lead by example. This includes exhibiting change leadership capabilities such as effective communications, ability to inspire others, and embodying and embracing change. If employees are not seeing their leaders exhibiting these skills and behaviours to enable change, they will not believe in the culture or the values that are trying to being fostered.
2. Create an environment where failing is an option. The adage ‘failing is not an option’ is out the door. Organizations that promote innovation, are open to trying and testing new ideas, and failing are the ones that thrive. Let’s use the race to space between the billionaires as an example. Did any of them reach their goal overnight? How many times do you think they have tried and failed before they were successful? What other initiatives do they have in flight that may or may not succeed?
3. Ensure there are two-way communications mechanisms in place. It’s not only crucial to keep employees informed, but it’s equally as important for them to have the ability to openly ask questions, share feedback and participate in communications and engagement activities. It's also important to understand that people will have fears about the unknown and providing them with an outlet to be heard and express their fears can help them move forward with the change.
4. Enhance your focus on learning. If your company is always evolving, so too are the roles. Did you know? Development and learning are why 93% of employees say they will stay longer at a company according to Forbes. Training employees on important skills such as change management helps organizations retain talent, improve productivity, and earn more profit. In addition, reskilling and upskilling has become increasingly important as employees have to become accustomed to acquiring new skills during the pandemic. I mean, how many of us learned how to cut hair or make bread? The eagerness to learn has significantly increased because of what we are currently experiencing.
5. Identify and empower informal change leaders, so that change can be enabled throughout your organization, and not only from the top-down. Informal change leaders are individuals with or without title that are inspiring, influential, and effective communicators that enable change with their peers.
6. Acknowledge your past but continue looking forward. The path to success is never a straight line, and mistakes are always made on the way. The important thing here is to acknowledge that past by taking accountability and learning from these mistakes. Another piece involves having a clear strategy that continues to look forward so that employees have a goal to work towards.
7. Culture must be owned by the senior leadership, not HR. How many times do we see culture owned by HR? The HR function is an important player in driving a positive culture as they hold the tools and expertise to get things into place, however, culture should always be owned by senior leadership. If they’re leading by example, they also need to be the ones accountable for the culture and ultimately shape what it looks like. What’s more, everyone in the organization is responsible for enabling change, not just a particular functional area.
8. Allow your culture to evolve. As I mentioned above, culture initiatives do not have a start or end date. An organizations’ culture is always evolving, and it is important for leaders to allow these changes to take place. Just as we cannot manage change, we cannot manage how external and internal factors such as the pandemic or other social changes like racial injustices or the climate crisis, impact organizational cultures. These are things that cannot be ignored and must be a part of your company’s evolution. Again, to be able to do this successfully, change resiliency must be present.
9. Take risks. Does slow and steady win the race? From personal experience, this doesn’t guarantee a win. So why don’t organizations take more risks? Understandably there could be many reasons contributing to a risk adverse culture, however, times are different now and we know that being able to adapt and embrace change culturally contributes to long-term success.
10. Acknowledge that change is hard. Change is a journey that takes place at the individual level and doesn’t happen overnight. Various change management, communications, and learning activities are required during the stages of change to support individuals throughout their journey.
As outlined, embedding change resiliency into Organizational Cultures is becoming increasingly important and a differentiator between companies that thrive and those that do not. The good news is that change resiliency is something that can be nurtured if you follow the right steps and are open to change.
Director People Engagement