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Embedding deep-rooted change into an organisation

Embedding deep-rooted change into an organisationImage Credit: Supplied

If I had to pick one word that would stand in the way of creating change in an existing organisation, it would be 'clarity'.

Often we don't make it clear why the change is needed, what the resulting changed organisation should look like, what each department's role is in the change, and what each employee should do. Most organisations have countless meetings at a senior level — debating, shaping and creating the change. They might even employ experts to help them develop the new envisioned future. But somewhere in the process, many fail to create clarity for the rest of the organisation.

To have clarity, you need to have a compelling and meaningful why. Why are you doing this in the first place? By making it meaningful, you can get the whole organisation to want to change because it supports a greater good.

The second element of clarity is to distil your message into a simple, repeatable, ideally single idea. If it isn't one thing, it's a maximum of three things (otherwise, people will forget).

Then, you need to become the chief repeating officer, using every opportunity you can, in as many mediums as possible, to repeat your core message. Even when you are bored of the message, keep saying it.

Next is to align all the systems, processes and remove blockers to the change. Give people the space to go through a natural change curve, but make sure you are removing or changing obstacles to making the change effective.

Create a safe environment for people to make mistakes during this change process. They need forums for discussions, a chance to air concerns and people to speak to as they struggle with new habits and systems.

We recommend 10-minute morning huddles daily, where you can keep everyone aligned and get them to share any 'stucks'. If someone is stuck or struggling to get their job done, it shouldn't be tackled in the huddle but straight afterwards. This type of meeting keeps your fingers on the pulse and gives you a daily all hands, or departmental, opportunity to update progress on the change.

Be realistic about the pace of change. If you've been in business for decades, you aren't going to change the culture or focus of the organisation overnight, even if it's a compelling and exciting journey.

It takes persistence to deliver change. Depending on the extent of the change, set some milestones. I prefer a quarterly time frame.

What needs to be in place in the next 90 days? How can we get everyone clear on that change? What do I need to repeat daily to ensure the message is understood? How will we measure and celebrate success at the end of the 13-week sprint?

Then set the next change milestone and repeat the whole cycle again. You'll find you deliver on more of your change expectations by focusing on them as a journey rather than trying to cover the whole list at once.

Also, you build new habits in bite-sized chunks, embedding something before moving on. It might feel like that is going to take longer, but in fact, it delivers sustainable and long lasting change far faster.

Finally, to steal a quote from Mahatma Ghandi, as leaders, ''be the change you wish to see in the world''. You need to eat, breathe, live and be clear about the change you are hoping and planning to create.

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Source: Hazel Jackson, Special to

The writer is CEO, Biz Group