More and more companies are now realising that the overall success of any transformation is down to the employees implementing the changes. If you’re looking to make a transformation in your business you need to empower your employees.
What do we mean by empowering them? Your employees need to feel that they are part of the decision process in any transformation. To do this you need to treat them as if they are all part of the leadership team.
Talk to them ask poignant questions and listen to the replies:
- What are the bottlenecks?
- What would make the most impact if changed?
- How would any transformation affect them?
- What skills are missing?
- What training is needed?
To get buy-in across the organisation, you need to deliver a clear message that everyone has the right to question, feedback and present ideas. Give them the freedom to continually assess and innovate any processes, tools or structures put in place. Allow them to take responsibility for implementing these changes. Allow employees who have been saying change is needed to present their ideas and to try them out. Give these changes a timebox and decide upfront the metrics that would deem it a success. This allows you to ‘fail fast’ if something isn’t quite right and then by coming together to discuss what didn’t work then adapt and try again.
If it’s ‘management’ that is perceived to be the issue, give managers the ability to be facilitators to getting things done rather than telling people how they should be doing it. Also, find ways to free up their workload so more time can be spent on supporting their teams through the change and are happy that the required change is having the right impact.
The key is collaboration and making sure the people with the skills and knowledge are allowed to make decisions on areas they specialise in. Then use managers to facilitate getting these decisions moved forward with the rest of the business.
What you want to achieve is a community of people who take ownership, responsibility and pride in working for your company. Who, with the right support, have the ability to improve services, products and processes without needing top-down sign-off, as you’ve given them the support they need to do so.
Pixar, for example, has eight leadership beliefs but the ones I feel are most relevant to valuing the people you have are:
- Creative ideas come from team collaborations, not top-down mandates. Ed Catmull says “It is not about one great idea, it is about the thousands of little ideas that come from everyone on the team that goes into the final product.”
- Passionate leaders get their power from enabling others to do their work, not telling them how to do their work.
- Teaching soft skills such as collaboration and improvisation are as important as teaching hard occupational skills.
As Ed Catmull points out, it’s not just the hard skills that matter, you need to find the people in your organisation who have excellent soft skills, naturals at working within a team. People who gain respect from their peers because of their general approach and demeanour and people who are excellent at communicating complex ideas and are great listeners. These are the people you can make your champions and can possibly move into positions required to make your new processes, structure and ideology work.