Constantly adapting and evolving is the key for any organization to stay afloat in today’s fast-paced business ecosystem. Leading a transformation is not just about implementing some policy change; it’s about inspiring a collective vision, empowering employees across the hierarchy, and nurturing a culture of continuous and sustainable improvement.
Indeed, it’s no easy feat! Gartner research found that only 34% of organizational change initiatives produced successful outcomes, as opposed to a massive 50% of “clear failures”! The ability to lead successful organizational transformation is gradually emerging as a critical skill for aspiring leaders and decision-makers.
As a trusted executive search firm enabling businesses to find their tech leadership fit, we are here to explore effective leadership strategies to drive organizational transformation. Let’s dive in.
How to Drive and Sustain Organizational Transformation: A Study
1. Lead by Example
Before driving a transformation in the entire organization, it’s important to bring about a change in yourself. The transition from manager to leader is the first step. In an interview with Harvard Business Review, the executive chairman of GFX Ventures, Dr. Patrick Law, remarks, “If you are not ready to change yourself, forget about changing your team and your organization.”
The process of organizational transformation is not linear. Sometimes, plans might have to change, priorities might get rearranged, and KPIs might need to be re-evaluated. The leaders need to roll with these punches and more importantly, support the team to roll without feeling directionless.
2. Communication: A Two-Way Street
For a leader, having a clear vision of the future of the organization is a key element, but a vision for change is only as effective as the communication that fosters it. It’s essential to provide clarity on the necessity of the change and mobilize employees towards attaining it. Connecting people with purpose is the pillar of a successful transformation. Change initiatives can fail if people don’t understand or believe in their purpose.
Also, communication is a two-way street. Engaging employees through communication methods like pulse surveys, focus groups, and anonymous feedback collection will make them feel valued and heard. On the other hand, two-way communication will enable the leaders to identify barriers and resolve them before they create resistance.
3. Implement the Right Change Management Technique
There are various OCM (Organizational Change Management) methods out there, like:
- ADKAR Model: Awareness → Desire → Knowledge → Ability → Reinforcement
- Kotter’s 8-Steps Process for Leading Change: Create urgency → Build a guiding coalition → Form strategic vision → Enlist a volunteer army → Enable action by removing barriers → Generate short-term wins → Sustain acceleration → Institute change
- Satir Change Management Model: Late status quo → Resistance → Chaos → Integration → New status quo
- Lewin’s Change Management Model: Unfreeze → Change → Refreeze
- Nudge Theory: Define changes → Consider employee point of view → Provide evidence to show the best options → Present change as a choice → Listen to employee feedback → Limit options → Solidify change with short-term wins
Each of the models is distinct but has underlying core tenants of strategizing and driving change. Implementing the right model requires leaders to analyze company culture and employee psychology.
4. People-First Approach
People-first is not a strategy; it’s a mindset. And when it comes to nurturing people, actions speak louder than words.
- Empower to own: Creating a shared vision of success and a sense of ownership is crucial. To facilitate this, focus on empowering the team with relevant resources. Upskilling, reskilling, and talent sourcing are some effective measures that you can adopt.
- Cultivate a culture of trust and respect: 48% of employees who feel disrespected in the workplace deliberately deliver low performance, according to a prominent report on business culture. Nurturing a healthy work culture can boost employees’ productivity.
- Freedom to experiment and innovate: Let new ideas emerge! An empowered team can identify new opportunities for organizational transformation. Create a safety net or space for small failures for your team to attain bigger success.
5. Prepare for Roadblocks: Consistency is the Key to Success
In 1995, John Kotter found that the failure rate of organizational transformation was as high as 70%, and the scenario has not much altered even to this day. Recently, the Harvard Business Review team conducted a survey with more than 900 C-suite managers and 1,000 employees who experienced or facilitated a corporate transformation. 67% of them mentioned that they had experienced at least one unsuccessful transformation in the last five years.
Various internal or external factors may hinder the process of change management. Resilience and consistency are essential for a leader to emerge successful. Also, change is a constant procedure. There’s no scope for complacency when it comes to driving an effective transformation.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to driving a successful organizational transformation. The above-mentioned strategies can work as a framework to lead the change.
At Purple Quarter, we evaluate the leadership acumen of the candidates and align their personalities with the organization’s goal. In our years of experience, we’ve observed that facilitating a lasting growth-driven culture requires leaders to take courageous steps along with strategic vision, ability to inspire people, and resilience.
Authored by Soumi Bhattacharya