Employee Empowerment in Action in Change Management

How do you engender sustainable workplace change?

The process of leading change is different to other supervisory functions which most managers have undertaken. Yet organizations often make the mistake of selecting an executive to lead change based upon his or her recognized management abilities. Such abilities are mostly disassociated from those required in change management.

Change is difficult for most people. They fear it. People who fear change become disengaged from it. When this happens, change fails.

Leading change requires a skillset which includes understanding how to empower employees in the workplace. By empowering people in the process of change, you accept that change is not simply a process. It requires a new way of thinking, a new way of acting, and a greater ambition to collaborate, engage, and innovate. When employees are empowered to change, the future vision is given new meaning. The vision becomes a shared goal, and empowerment enables the goal to become a sustainable reality.

In this article, you’ll learn to leverage empowerment in change management. As we compare the fortunes of two largescale organizational change projects, you’ll discover how the chief executives of JC Penney and Telstra took very different approaches when their companies were suffering from declining revenues.

A failure to empower leads to a failure to change

In the mid-to-late 2000s, JC Penney was suffering. Its traditional base of customers was being targeted by increasingly competitive low-cost retailers. Its sales had slumped, and in 2011 it turned to Ron Johnson to lead a resurgence.

Johnson came with a formidable track record. He’d been the vice president of merchandising at Target, where he had been responsible for launching the successful Michael Graves product line. Taken on by Apple, it had been Johnson who had led the company’s charge into brick-and-mortar stores. He oversaw record growth in the now iconic Apple Stores.

Johnson seemed to be a perfect fit for the ailing JC Penney.

Johnson’s strategy was simple: move out of the low-cost space, and compete with high-end retailers. His approach to this massive change was to try to force it through. He commanded his troops, rather than inspired them. He created his strategy without regard for history, nor with the collaboration of JC Penney ‘lifers’. He failed to understand the culture of the firm, its employees, managers and customers.

Predictably, the results were disastrous and are still being felt today, four years after he was fired in 2013. Sales fell through the floor. Revenues collapsed, as did profits. Major shareholders deserted the company. So, too, did key workers and floor staff. The company has never recovered its poise with customers.

When Johnson was hired as CEO in 2011, the JC Penney stock price stood at around $35. By the time Johnson and JC Penney parted ways in April 2013, the stock price had more than halved. Today, many analysts believe JC Penney is on the brink of bankruptcy. The enormous failures of the Johnson era have not been shaken off. Customers lost during his tenure have not returned.

Communicating change to empower employees at Telstra

While Johnson was attempting to force through change at JC Penney, David Thodey at Telstra was taking a wholly different approach. The Australian telecoms company was suffering from declining sales amid stiffening competition when Thodey was appointed CEO in 2009.

Immediately he recognized that the organization needed to change. But, instead of seeing himself as the sole commissioner of change, he recognized that all of Telstra’s executives, employees and customers were pivotal to change success. He set about empowering his 300 senior executives to work with Telstra’s employees, engaging all in the change project.

Together, they developed training and one-on-one coaching courses, inviting feedback, managing expectations, and evolving people’s beliefs and values in line with those of the organization. He put in place new recognition programs, which rewarded individuals and teams. He encouraged people to participate in a shared future.

By the time Thodey considered his job was complete when he retired from the CEO position at Telstra in 2015, the company’s stock market value had trebled.

What can we learn from David Thodey’s approach to change management?

David Thodey realized that it is imperative to empower people throughout the process of change. He ensured that he first empowered his senior managers, and then challenged them to empower their employees. He ensured that there was clarity in all communication about the transformational changes taking place. He created the environment where open communication was encouraged, and understood that people need to know that their fears and concerns are being listened to, understood, and dealt with. Specifically, Thodey instigated change management in which:

Employee empowerment as a tool of change management

Employee empowerment is a key factor in producing sustainable change in any organization. If your people feel isolated, unloved, and not listened to, resistance to change will snowball. Our change coaching and training programs have been designed to help break down communication barriers, and increase engagement through the process of change.

To discover how a Change Agent Bootcamp and coaching to empower your people will help your organization and leaders produce lasting change, contact Primeast today.

Employee Empowerment in Action in Change Management

How do you engender sustainable workplace change?

The process of leading change is different to other supervisory functions which most managers have undertaken. Yet organisations often make the mistake of selecting an executive to lead change based upon his or her recognised management abilities. Such abilities are mostly disassociated from those required in change management.

Change is difficult for most people. They fear it. People who fear change become disengaged from it. When this happens, change fails.

Leading change requires a skillset which includes understanding how to empower employees in the workplace. By empowering people in the process of change, you accept that change is not simply a process. It requires a new way of thinking, a new way of acting, and a greater ambition to collaborate, engage, and innovate. When employees are empowered to change, the future vision is given new meaning. The vision becomes a shared goal, and empowerment enables the goal to become a sustainable reality.

In this article, you’ll learn to leverage empowerment in change management. As we compare the fortunes of two largescale organisational change projects, you’ll discover how the chief executives of JC Penney and Telstra took very different approaches when their companies were suffering from declining revenues.

A failure to empower leads to a failure to change

In the mid-to-late 2000s, JC Penney was suffering. Its traditional base of customers was being targeted by increasingly competitive low-cost retailers. Its sales had slumped, and in 2011 it turned to Ron Johnson to lead a resurgence.

Johnson came with a formidable track record. He’d been the vice president of merchandising at Target, where he had been responsible for launching the successful Michael Graves product line. Taken on by Apple, it had been Johnson who had led the company’s charge into brick-and-mortar stores. He oversaw record growth in the now iconic Apple Stores.

Johnson seemed to be a perfect fit for the ailing JC Penney.

Johnson’s strategy was simple: move out of the low-cost space, and compete with high-end retailers. His approach to this massive change was to try to force it through. He commanded his troops, rather than inspired them. He created his strategy without regard for history, nor with the collaboration of JC Penney ‘lifers’. He failed to understand the culture of the firm, its employees, managers and customers.

Predictably, the results were disastrous and are still being felt today, four years after he was fired in 2013. Sales fell through the floor. Revenues collapsed, as did profits. Major shareholders deserted the company. So, too, did key workers and floor staff. The company has never recovered its poise with customers.

When Johnson was hired as CEO in 2011, the JC Penney stock price stood at around $35. By the time Johnson and JC Penney parted ways in April 2013, the stock price had more than halved. Today, many analysts believe JC Penney is on the brink of bankruptcy. The enormous failures of the Johnson era have not been shaken off. Customers lost during his tenure have not returned.

Communicating change to empower employees at Telstra

While Johnson was attempting to force through change at JC Penney, David Thodey at Telstra was taking a wholly different approach. The Australian telecoms company was suffering from declining sales amid stiffening competition when Thodey was appointed CEO in 2009.

Immediately he recognised that the organisation needed to change. But, instead of seeing himself as the sole commissioner of change, he recognised that all of Telstra’s executives, employees and customers were pivotal to change success. He set about empowering his 300 senior executives to work with Telstra’s employees, engaging all in the change project.

Together, they developed training and one-on-one coaching courses, inviting feedback, managing expectations, and evolving people’s beliefs and values in line with those of the organisation. He put in place new recognition programs, which rewarded individuals and teams. He encouraged people to participate in a shared future.

By the time Thodey considered his job was complete when he retired from the CEO position at Telstra in 2015, the company’s stock market value had trebled.

What can we learn from David Thodey’s approach to change management?

David Thodey realized that it is imperative to empower people throughout the process of change. He ensured that he first empowered his senior managers, and then challenged them to empower their employees. He ensured that there was clarity in all communication about the transformational changes taking place. He created the environment where open communication was encouraged, and understood that people need to know that their fears and concerns are being listened to, understood, and dealt with. Specifically, Thodey instigated change management in which:

Employee empowerment as a tool of change management

Employee empowerment is a key factor in producing sustainable change in any organisation. If your people feel isolated, unloved, and not listened to, resistance to change will snowball. Our change coaching and training programs have been designed to help break down communication barriers, and increase engagement through the process of change.

To discover how a Change Agent Bootcamp and coaching to empower your people will help your organisation and leaders produce lasting change, contact Primeast today.

Diversity and Inclusion Deliver Change Management Success

Diversity and Inclusion Deliver Change Management Success

People’s attitudes to organizational change often sit at one of two extremes. On the one hand, there are those for who organizational change fills them with dread. They feel threatened and fearful. They don’t want to let go of what has always been, and become resistant to change. At the other end of the spectrum are those who readily embrace change. It allows them to be creative and take advantage of new opportunities. They revel in the risks as new potential energizes them.

These extremes are evidence of responses connected to personal culture, and are shaped by experiences, upbringing and mindset. Failure of change projects is often laid at the feet of a lack of training, inadequate explanations, or simply the rapidity and scope of change being too great. The question that must be answered, is how to lead such extremes through times of change.

Valuing diversity in the workplace energizes effective change

A 2015 McKinsey report titled ‘Why Diversity Matters’ found that businesses with higher levels of diversity outperform others by up to 15%. This outperformance is explained by what diversity brings to the table.

By employing a diverse range of people (different genders, backgrounds, ages, personalities, races, and so on), an organization gives itself the potential to discover more creative solutions and become more welcoming to an increasingly diverse customer base. To unlock this potential, diversity must be accompanied by inclusion. People must be made to feel that their contributions are valued, and that they are respected as people, colleagues and employees.

Especially through periods of change, diversity provides the impetus to discover innovative solutions, making teams more inventive and agile, and thus aiding the breaking down of resistance to change.

Combating cultural conflicts in change management

In any multicultural setting, there is bound to be some conflict. How leaders deal with this is crucial to creating a forum where such conflict becomes a force for greater innovation and creativity. It is essential that leaders eliminate their unconscious bias, and take a care-fronting approach to conflict resolution.

Are your leaders equipped to take advantage of a diverse workforce?

It is also essential that change leaders identify differences in approaches to work (for example, task-oriented or relationship-oriented), contrasting attitudes, and different skill sets. Communication styles between genders and age groups are likely to be different, too. As the workforce gets younger, change leaders must become more mindful of the mindset of the millennial generation.

Leaders today must understand that their diverse workforces have embedded assumptions and ways of thinking. These differences must be accommodated in the leadership approach. Communication in leadership is key – without attention to cultural differences, a leader’s verbal and nonverbal communication style can destroy collaboration.

It is crucial that today’s leaders possess the skills to manage across cultures. They must be good listeners, and have the skill set to discover hidden talents and employ them in situations that benefit both the employee and the organization.

Organizational culture should be developed in line with a diversity and inclusion (D&I) policy that encourages employee engagement across cultural divides. Opportunities for promotion should be seen to be equal for all, irrespective of gender, race or background. Teams should be developed purposefully, with diversity of members leading to healthy conflict that enables greater agility through change.

Embrace diversity and your team will embrace change

It is natural to be wary of change. Whether a person is excited by it or fearful of it, the risks are the same. As are the rewards. When an organization embraces diversity and inclusion, it prepares itself for change.

Divergence in views and perspectives, and discussion and debate in open and honest forums in which all are encouraged to take part and all voices are heard equally, leads to better solutions. It is the power of these solutions that fuels successful change and helps to eliminate resistance to change.

Does your organization have a positive diversity and inclusion policy? Are your leaders equipped to manage multicultural teams effectively?

Contact us today, and discover how we could help your leaders and managers lead more effectively and authentically through periods of change.

Diversity and Inclusion Deliver Change Management Success

Diversity and Inclusion Deliver Change Management Success

People’s attitudes to organisational change often sit at one of two extremes. On the one hand, there are those for who organisational change fills them with dread. They feel threatened and fearful. They don’t want to let go of what has always been, and become resistant to change. At the other end of the spectrum are those who readily embrace change. It allows them to be creative and take advantage of new opportunities. They revel in the risks as new potential energises them.

These extremes are evidence of responses connected to personal culture, and are shaped by experiences, upbringing and mindset. Failure of change projects is often laid at the feet of a lack of training, inadequate explanations, or simply the rapidity and scope of change being too great. The question that must be answered, is how to lead such extremes through times of change.

Valuing diversity in the workplace energises effective change

A 2015 McKinsey report titled ‘Why Diversity Matters’ found that businesses with higher levels of diversity outperform others by up to 15%. This outperformance is explained by what diversity brings to the table.

By employing a diverse range of people (different genders, backgrounds, ages, personalities, races, and so on), an organisation gives itself the potential to discover more creative solutions and become more welcoming to an increasingly diverse customer base. To unlock this potential, diversity must be accompanied by inclusion. People must be made to feel that their contributions are valued, and that they are respected as people, colleagues and employees.

Especially through periods of change, diversity provides the impetus to discover innovative solutions, making teams more inventive and agile, and thus aiding the breaking down of resistance to change.

Combating cultural conflicts in change management

In any multicultural setting, there is bound to be some conflict. How leaders deal with this is crucial to creating a forum where such conflict becomes a force for greater innovation and creativity. It is essential that leaders eliminate their unconscious bias, and take a care-fronting approach to conflict resolution.

Are your leaders equipped to take advantage of a diverse workforce?

It is also essential that change leaders identify differences in approaches to work (for example, task-oriented or relationship-oriented), contrasting attitudes, and different skill sets. Communication styles between genders and age groups are likely to be different, too. As the workforce gets younger, change leaders must become more mindful of the mindset of the millennial generation.

Leaders today must understand that their diverse workforces have embedded assumptions and ways of thinking. These differences must be accommodated in the leadership approach. Communication in leadership is key – without attention to cultural differences, a leader’s verbal and nonverbal communication style can destroy collaboration.

It is crucial that today’s leaders possess the skills to manage across cultures. They must be good listeners, and have the skill set to discover hidden talents and employ them in situations that benefit both the employee and the organisation.

Organizational culture should be developed in line with a diversity and inclusion (D&I) policy that encourages employee engagement across cultural divides. Opportunities for promotion should be seen to be equal for all, irrespective of gender, race or background. Teams should be developed purposefully, with diversity of members leading to healthy conflict that enables greater agility through change.

Embrace diversity and your team will embrace change

It is natural to be wary of change. Whether a person is excited by it or fearful of it, the risks are the same. As are the rewards. When an organisation embraces diversity and inclusion, it prepares itself for change.

Divergence in views and perspectives, and discussion and debate in open and honest forums in which all are encouraged to take part and all voices are heard equally, leads to better solutions. It is the power of these solutions that fuels successful change and helps to eliminate resistance to change.

Does your organisation have a positive diversity and inclusion policy? Are your leaders equipped to manage multicultural teams effectively?

Contact us today, and discover how we could help your leaders and managers lead more effectively and authentically through periods of change.

Artificial Intelligence is changing change management

Enhancing Opportunity for Change Managers to Become Change Leaders

The evolution of technology may prompt change, but it also changes how change management is conducted. For example, the cloud has enabled remote specialists to be engaged on a change program and have valuable input in real time. Artificial Intelligence promises to change the business world more than any other technological advance to date. It will also alter change management, especially the people side of change management.

AI – Creating More Efficient Change Management

In the same way that AI is making task management more efficient, it also promises to make change management more efficient. AI gives change managers the potential to measure digital activity in real time, all the time – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

AI allows the change manager to take corrective action before it is needed, as the technology uses the flow of data to predict what will happen. Certain actions could be taken without intervention, with AI technology permitted to make changes automatically to avoid predicted issues. In such an event, the change manager will be alerted to the change, rather than execute the change. This will accelerate the pace of change and help to ensure that projects are delivered on time and within budget.

AI – Enhancing the People Side of Change

AI promises to enhance the people side of change management in many ways. For example, by relieving the change manager of the need to input reams of data, collate it and analyze it, the change manager is given time to focus on the people affecting the change and being affected by change.

AI should enable change management teams to identify and mitigate risks more easily and with greater speed, using best practice approaches and people with the necessary skills to do so.

Utilizing the capability of AI, organizational change is no longer restricted by organizational hierarchy. Talent will more often be employed virtually, and switched in and out of a change project as needed – this may be for an hour or two at a time, with AI technology used to bring talent in more fluidly. The result will be a more agile approach to change.

In such an environment, change projects could be handled at a greater pace. AI can analyze a change project, and match up the skills required at each stage using experience and learning from previous change projects. Where skills need to be enhanced, AI can match up required training with those who need to be trained.

For largescale projects, AI can interrogate data sources such as in-house HR files and LinkedIn accounts to identify those with the skills needed. This will facilitate building change management teams more consistently, matching individual capabilities to project needs at all stages of the project.

As the change project is progressing, AI technology can be employed to monitor meeting minutes, emails, documents, etc. to ensure that tasks are coordinated, issues are addressed, and risks are raised and managed effectively. On all these processes, the use of AI removes human bias, ensuring that all decisions benefit from identical logical thinking.

AI will allow change managers to optimize their approach, enhance decisions, and accelerate the change process using the best talent available. Change managers will have more time to do what they do best – instead of managing the process of change, they will become leaders of the people side of change.

Contact us today, and discover how we could help your organization transition to a culture of evolutionary change.

Artificial Intelligence is changing change management

Enhancing Opportunity for Change Managers to Become Change Leaders

The evolution of technology may prompt change, but it also changes how change management is conducted. For example, the cloud has enabled remote specialists to be engaged on a change program and have valuable input in real time. Artificial Intelligence promises to change the business world more than any other technological advance to date. It will also alter change management, especially the people side of change management.

AI – Creating More Efficient Change Management

In the same way that AI is making task management more efficient, it also promises to make change management more efficient. AI gives change managers the potential to measure digital activity in real time, all the time – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

AI allows the change manager to take corrective action before it is needed, as the technology uses the flow of data to predict what will happen. Certain actions could be taken without intervention, with AI technology permitted to make changes automatically to avoid predicted issues. In such an event, the change manager will be alerted to the change, rather than execute the change. This will accelerate the pace of change and help to ensure that projects are delivered on time and within budget.

AI – Enhancing the People Side of Change

AI promises to enhance the people side of change management in many ways. For example, by relieving the change manager of the need to input reams of data, collate it and analyse it, the change manager is given time to focus on the people affecting the change and being affected by change.

AI should enable change management teams to identify and mitigate risks more easily and with greater speed, using best practice approaches and people with the necessary skills to do so.

Utilizing the capability of AI, organisational change is no longer restricted by organisational hierarchy. Talent will more often be employed virtually, and switched in and out of a change project as needed – this may be for an hour or two at a time, with AI technology used to bring talent in more fluidly. The result will be a more agile approach to change.

In such an environment, change projects could be handled at a greater pace. AI can analyse a change project, and match up the skills required at each stage using experience and learning from previous change projects. Where skills need to be enhanced, AI can match up required training with those who need to be trained.

For largescale projects, AI can interrogate data sources such as in-house HR files and LinkedIn accounts to identify those with the skills needed. This will facilitate building change management teams more consistently, matching individual capabilities to project needs at all stages of the project.

As the change project is progressing, AI technology can be employed to monitor meeting minutes, emails, documents, etc. to ensure that tasks are coordinated, issues are addressed, and risks are raised and managed effectively. On all these processes, the use of AI removes human bias, ensuring that all decisions benefit from identical logical thinking.

AI will allow change managers to optimize their approach, enhance decisions, and accelerate the change process using the best talent available. Change managers will have more time to do what they do best – instead of managing the process of change, they will become leaders of the people side of change.

Contact us today, and discover how we could help your organisation transition to a culture of evolutionary change.

9 Steps to Engage People in Transformational Change

The Kotter + 1 process of organizational behavior for change

The world of business is moving faster than ever. Technology usurps itself on an almost daily basis. Organisations need to compete harder than ever before to stay ahead of the market. Technology, rules and regulations, changing consumer habits and competitive pressures combine to make the need for change both necessary and inevitable. Yet people resist change. They fear it.

In this article, you’ll learn how organizational behavior can engage people in transformational change.

Organizational behavior in the leadership of change

While there are many change management strategies, most have their foundations in the eight-step model developed by Dr. John Kotter and described in his book, “Leading Change”. However, following this model will not be enough to create successful and sustainable change. Your organization will need to adopt and adapt the organizational behaviors required to engage employees in change throughout the process.

Step 1: Create urgency

You must create a sense of urgency, which compels the entire organization to want change. Discussing poor sales numbers or chatting about your competition won’t achieve this.

Organizational behaviors needed:

Step 2: Form a powerful coalition

Lead from the front, with your senior leaders involved in influencing employees of the need for change. Identify change sponsors throughout your organization from all sources, and use these influencers to build momentum for change.

Organizational behaviors needed:

Step 3: Create the vision for change

A clear vision of the future is needed to help all stakeholders understand why there is a need for change, and the ambitions of the change project.

Organizational behaviors needed:

Step 4: Communicate your future vision

Too often, organizations tell their people that things are going to change, but never tell them why, how, or the benefits of change. The reasons for change and its benefits will need to be communicated loud and often. The message will have a lot of competition from ‘business-as-usual’ communications, and for change to be successful it must be a priority.

Organizational behaviors needed:

Step 5: Remove resistance to change

There are many obstacles to change. The major one, and the one that could bring change to its knees, is employee resistance. Employees especially in the age of globalized markets and automation, can see “change” as code for “downsizing”. As a leader, it’s important to reassure your team that this isn’t what you mean and be able to speak to their fears.  If this is what you mean by change then you want to address it head-on because there is likely to be further demoralization.   You’ll need to structure your team to maximize its potential, employing change leaders and setting roles and responsibilities in line with their skillsets. However, there are other things that you will need to do.

Organizational behaviors needed:

Step 6: Generate short-term wins

Aiming for a single big goal can be daunting and demoralizing. You never seem to make any real progress. It’s a little like setting a target to quit smoking, or lose weight, or write a book. Instead, set smaller short-term milestones on the way to the future vision (e.g. cut out that first cigarette, lose two pounds in the first week, write a chapter a week, etc.). Make the targets stretching but achievable, so that they have a high chance of success.

Organizational behaviors needed:

Step 7: Consolidate wins and build out the change

Celebrate the achievement of each milestone, but never rest on your laurels. You have completed another stepping stone toward the future vision. You now need to build on this, by learning from mistakes made and identifying what went well.

Organizational behaviors needed:

Step 8: Set the changes in corporate culture

When you reach the future vision you set yourself, you must ensure that new processes, systems, and ways of thinking and working become central to your corporate culture. Ensure that the benefits of change are evident in every corner of your organization, and that your leaders remain supportive of the change.

Organizational behaviors needed:

Now that your change project has reached its successful conclusion, what next?

Step 9: Rinse and repeat

The only constant in business is change. As I discussed in the opening paragraph, technology, rules and regulations, changing consumer habits and competitive pressures combine to make the need for change both necessary and inevitable. The world of business is an ever-changing landscape. Just because you have completed a largescale transformational change successfully, does not mean that further change is unnecessary.

Organizational behaviors needed:

 

How to Create Autonomous Teams

5 tactics to develop role autonomy and engage employees in change.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that organizations must be agile. Rapid change is sometimes necessary. It’s likely to continue to be so on an even greater scale in the future. This brings us to managing change.

A statistic that is often quoted is that 70% of organizational change projects fail. To improve the success of change management projects, it is essential for employees to be engaged in the change. Role autonomy is key to this. Why? Because autonomy empowers people in self-determination and creation – and people tend not to destroy what they create.

What is autonomy anyway?

Autonomy in the workplace can be defined in many ways. However, it boils down to empowering employees to shape their working environment and their working practices in ways that most suit them.

Of all common human traits, perhaps the one that compels us to find the easiest solution – ways to work smarter rather than harder – is the strongest. It drives invention and innovation. This thirst for creating easier lives has given us the desire to create everything we take for granted today, from the wheel to the world wide web.

Role autonomy allows people to thrive

The days of controlling, carrot-and-stick leadership are long gone. If you want your team to change, leaders must guide and inspire. Give them the tools to do their job, and allow them to design how they do it. Explain the results you need, give them guidance, and then allow them to finesse how they work. Contrary to how some managers think, your people want to do the best work they can – and they probably know more about the work they do than their managers.

As Jack Welch (who as CEO of General Electric during the last two decades of the 20th century steered it through a period of colossal change) advised, “Place the best people for the best opportunities and to properly distribute the monies to the right places. That’s all. Communicate your ideas, distribute the resources and get out of the way.

In short, providing autonomy to people in the workplace provides the environment and incentive in which they will thrive. This translates into good news for the organization, especially in times of change. You give people the power to become involved in the change. This gives them the power to create the change. This level of engagement is key in strategies for overcoming resistance to change.

Autonomy is a tool of teamwork

Providing autonomy within roles is not giving a carte blanche to individuals to do as they please. They must still be guided in what they do. The change process will have defined milestones and goals, and expected outcomes. Providing autonomy allows people to change lanes while staying on the same course.

Autonomy at work should be used as a tool to encourage collaboration. It is not about working on your own. It’s about understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, identifying help needed, and using the strength of the team to produce meaningful results.

The benefits of autonomy in teams

People who are given the power of self-determination are generally happier, more highly motivated, and more loyal than those under authoritarian control. Autonomy creates the environment in which employee engagement flourishes.

Happier, more motivated employees are less likely to leave and more likely to work toward collective goals. Other benefits include:

Delivering the benefits of role autonomy and employee engagement

Autonomy in the workplace doesn’t just happen by setting out guidelines and saying, ‘get on with it’.

Autonomy is a cultural trait. It must be instilled by clear leadership, and inspired by people-centric management. Here are five tactics to encourage autonomy in your teams.

1.      Provide clear boundaries of autonomy

Enable employees to develop their decision-making skills by providing clear boundaries of autonomy in which they can operate. For example, in a call center you may give customer service agents the autonomy to make decisions to a value of, say, $100 without the need to refer to a manager.

2.      Support your people in their efforts

Don’t leave your people without guidance. Support them as they transition into autonomous mode. Ensure that autonomy is provided within process and procedural limitations, and back these up with structured handbooks, manuals, and cooperative supervision.

3.      Develop outcome-oriented not task-based targets

To empower people to develop work processes and procedures that deliver improved results and higher productivity, move away from task-based targets. Instead, help people to focus on outcomes. You want 1,000 widgets made each hour? Ask your operatives how they could deliver this.

4.      Understand that mistakes will happen – and learn from them

To err is human. People will make mistakes. It is not the mistake that defines us, it is how we react to it. Develop a culture in which informed risk-taking is acceptable, and in which mistakes and what is learned from them are shared.

5.      Trust your people

We may have saved the most important tactic until last. Autonomy can only exist in an environment in which people are trusted. Without trust, managers will feel the need to control. Without trust, employees will not act autonomously.

At the core of trust is how you communicate – and this includes building trust in globally remote teams. Learn to listen to your employees and act on the feedback you receive. They are the ones who are most affected by change. Autonomous employees will help you affect successful change, because they are the ones who will be responsible for determining their own success.

To learn more about creating a change-ready organization, connect with Primeast today.

How to Create Autonomous Teams

5 tactics to develop role autonomy and engage employees in change.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that organisations must be agile. Rapid change is sometimes necessary. It’s likely to continue to be so on an even greater scale in the future. This brings us to managing change.

A statistic that is often quoted is that 70% of organisational change projects fail. To improve the success of change management projects, it is essential for employees to be engaged in the change. Role autonomy is key to this. Why? Because autonomy empowers people in self-determination and creation – and people tend not to destroy what they create.

What is autonomy anyway?

Autonomy in the workplace can be defined in many ways. However, it boils down to empowering employees to shape their working environment and their working practices in ways that most suit them.

Of all common human traits, perhaps the one that compels us to find the easiest solution – ways to work smarter rather than harder – is the strongest. It drives invention and innovation. This thirst for creating easier lives has given us the desire to create everything we take for granted today, from the wheel to the world wide web.

Role autonomy allows people to thrive

The days of controlling, carrot-and-stick leadership are long gone. If you want your team to change, leaders must guide and inspire. Give them the tools to do their job, and allow them to design how they do it. Explain the results you need, give them guidance, and then allow them to finesse how they work. Contrary to how some managers think, your people want to do the best work they can – and they probably know more about the work they do than their managers.

As Jack Welch (who as CEO of General Electric during the last two decades of the 20th century steered it through a period of colossal change) advised, “Place the best people for the best opportunities and to properly distribute the monies to the right places. That’s all. Communicate your ideas, distribute the resources and get out of the way.

In short, providing autonomy to people in the workplace provides the environment and incentive in which they will thrive. This translates into good news for the organisation, especially in times of change. You give people the power to become involved in the change. This gives them the power to create the change. This level of engagement is key in strategies for overcoming resistance to change.

Autonomy is a tool of teamwork

Providing autonomy within roles is not giving a carte blanche to individuals to do as they please. They must still be guided in what they do. The change process will have defined milestones and goals, and expected outcomes. Providing autonomy allows people to change lanes while staying on the same course.

Autonomy at work should be used as a tool to encourage collaboration. It is not about working on your own. It’s about understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, identifying help needed, and using the strength of the team to produce meaningful results.

The benefits of autonomy in teams

People who are given the power of self-determination are generally happier, more highly motivated, and more loyal than those under authoritarian control. Autonomy creates the environment in which employee engagement flourishes.

Happier, more motivated employees are less likely to leave and more likely to work toward collective goals. Other benefits include:

Delivering the benefits of role autonomy and employee engagement

Autonomy in the workplace doesn’t just happen by setting out guidelines and saying, ‘get on with it’.

Autonomy is a cultural trait. It must be instilled by clear leadership, and inspired by people-centric management. Here are five tactics to encourage autonomy in your teams.

1.      Provide clear boundaries of autonomy

Enable employees to develop their decision-making skills by providing clear boundaries of autonomy in which they can operate. For example, in a call center you may give customer service agents the autonomy to make decisions to a value of, say, $100 without the need to refer to a manager.

2.      Support your people in their efforts

Don’t leave your people without guidance. Support them as they transition into autonomous mode. Ensure that autonomy is provided within process and procedural limitations, and back these up with structured handbooks, manuals, and cooperative supervision.

3.      Develop outcome-oriented not task-based targets

To empower people to develop work processes and procedures that deliver improved results and higher productivity, move away from task-based targets. Instead, help people to focus on outcomes. You want 1,000 widgets made each hour? Ask your operatives how they could deliver this.

4.      Understand that mistakes will happen – and learn from them

To err is human. People will make mistakes. It is not the mistake that defines us, it is how we react to it. Develop a culture in which informed risk-taking is acceptable, and in which mistakes and what is learned from them are shared.

5.      Trust your people

We may have saved the most important tactic until last. Autonomy can only exist in an environment in which people are trusted. Without trust, managers will feel the need to control. Without trust, employees will not act autonomously.

At the core of trust is how you communicate – and this includes building trust in globally remote teams. Learn to listen to your employees and act on the feedback you receive. They are the ones who are most affected by change. Autonomous employees will help you affect successful change, because they are the ones who will be responsible for determining their own success.

To learn more about creating a change-ready organisation, connect with Primeast today.

9 Steps to Engage People in Transformational Change

The Kotter + 1 process of organisational behaviour for change

The world of business is moving faster than ever. Technology usurps itself on an almost daily basis. Organisations need to compete harder than ever before to stay ahead of the market. Technology, rules and regulations, changing consumer habits and competitive pressures combine to make the need for change both necessary and inevitable. Yet people resist change. They fear it.

In this article, you’ll learn how organisational behaviour can engage people in transformational change.

Organizational behaviour in the leadership of change

While there are many change management strategies, most have their foundations in the eight-step model developed by Dr. John Kotter and described in his book, “Leading Change”. However, following this model will not be enough to create successful and sustainable change. Your organisation will need to adopt and adapt the organisational behaviours required to engage employees in change throughout the process.

Step 1: Create urgency

You must create a sense of urgency, which compels the entire organisation to want change. Discussing poor sales numbers or chatting about your competition won’t achieve this.

Organizational behaviours needed:

Step 2: Form a powerful coalition

Lead from the front, with your senior leaders involved in influencing employees of the need for change. Identify change sponsors throughout your organisation from all sources, and use these influencers to build momentum for change.

Organizational behaviours needed:

Step 3: Create the vision for change

A clear vision of the future is needed to help all stakeholders understand why there is a need for change, and the ambitions of the change project.

Organizational behaviours needed:

Step 4: Communicate your future vision

Too often, organisations tell their people that things are going to change, but never tell them why, how, or the benefits of change. The reasons for change and its benefits will need to be communicated loud and often. The message will have a lot of competition from ‘business-as-usual’ communications, and for change to be successful it must be a priority.

Organizational behaviours needed:

Step 5: Remove resistance to change

There are many obstacles to change. The major one, and the one that could bring change to its knees, is employee resistance. Employees especially in the age of globalized markets and automation, can see “change” as code for “downsizing”. As a leader, it’s important to reassure your team that this isn’t what you mean and be able to speak to their fears.  If this is what you mean by change then you want to address it head-on because there is likely to be further demoralization.   You’ll need to structure your team to maximise its potential, employing change leaders and setting roles and responsibilities in line with their skillsets. However, there are other things that you will need to do.

Organizational behaviours needed:

Step 6: Generate short-term wins

Aiming for a single big goal can be daunting and demoralizing. You never seem to make any real progress. It’s a little like setting a target to quit smoking, or lose weight, or write a book. Instead, set smaller short-term milestones on the way to the future vision (e.g. cut out that first cigarette, lose two pounds in the first week, write a chapter a week, etc.). Make the targets stretching but achievable, so that they have a high chance of success.

Organizational behaviours needed:

Step 7: Consolidate wins and build out the change

Celebrate the achievement of each milestone, but never rest on your laurels. You have completed another stepping stone toward the future vision. You now need to build on this, by learning from mistakes made and identifying what went well.

Organizational behaviours needed:

Step 8: Set the changes in corporate culture

When you reach the future vision you set yourself, you must ensure that new processes, systems, and ways of thinking and working become central to your corporate culture. Ensure that the benefits of change are evident in every corner of your organisation, and that your leaders remain supportive of the change.

Organizational behaviours needed:

Now that your change project has reached its successful conclusion, what next?

Step 9: Rinse and repeat

The only constant in business is change. As I discussed in the opening paragraph, technology, rules and regulations, changing consumer habits and competitive pressures combine to make the need for change both necessary and inevitable. The world of business is an ever-changing landscape. Just because you have completed a largescale transformational change successfully, does not mean that further change is unnecessary.

Organizational behaviours needed: