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Orchestrating Transformational Change

Updated on December 31, 2014

Organizations face significant challenge when attempting to transform. It doesn’t have much to do with the type of transformation, whether a merger, acquisition, alliance, the type of industry, or whether there is a perfect strategy in place. The biggest impediment to organizational change and transformation is not the "what"…it is the "who"…earning the hearts and minds of the employees within the organization in order to facilitate the identified change or transformative actions necessary to be successful.

Consider taking the following steps to start to align your leaders and then align your employees:

Step 1: Outline and define the truth statements of your organization

A truth statement is a set of beliefs on which to build business going forward and it provides a set of behavioral ground rules on what will become the behavioral change contract between the leaders of the business and the employees within the organization.

A truth statement requires that an organization take a long, hard look in the mirror and the leaders evaluate what they see and then acknowledged the truth statements about the organization and leadership. An example of an organization’s truth statements are:

  1. We say we want to be develop our people and our employees ask routinely on the cultural survey to be developed but we rarely provide time and focus to make development a priority. Ex. We offer a great number of disjointed programs that don’t really align with a large overarching vision of becoming a “high performance organization.”
  2. Marketing and sales have a “productive” relationship but we rarely trust one another to do the right thing for the business. Sales believes that brand marketing isn’t providing what the sales organization needs and Marketing believes that the sales organization isn’t executing according to the outlined brand plan. To transform this organization and the customer experience, we need a shared vision for the future with much deeper marketing and sales trust.
  3. The organization has opted to take on a direct, tell and sell rather than an ask, learn, and listen approach which ultimately creates a lack of engagement and a lack of commitment to continually evolving and changing in response to our customer’s needs.
  4. We say that we want to be customer-focused or -centric but we have yet to assess each of our customer touchpoints.
  5. Functional silos prevent the organization from doing what is right for the entire organization from a holistic perspective as the functional silos fight for limited resources and are focused internally rather than externally focused.
  6. The signals sent to employees are manifested in how they treat their customers and there is a missed opportunity to differentiate our organization and to achieve a competitive advantage with our employees first and then with our customers.
  7. Regional Sales Directors and managers are seen as people that must be kept in line and controlled rather than partners that we are in business with. This unknowingly impacts high performance execution.

The moment that an organization begins to understand the truth statements that exist within their organization is the moment that the organization begins to create real transformation.

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Step 2: Compare your mission to your actions and attitudes (more importantly have a subset of your employees compare your mission to the organization’s actions and attitudes). What can they share with the organization that can facilitate real transformation:

  1. Research has shown that the customers experience is determined by the employees’ experience – where does this organization stand on this area of focus?
  2. Capturing the hearts and minds of employees doesn’t have to take a lot of money but it does have to be intentional and consistent.
  3. The success of the organization depends on building high-trust with employees (including alignment between sales and marketing).

Step 3: Build out the behaviors needed in your people that will help ensure the organization’s success during and after the transformation.

  1. Ask, listen, and learn instead of directing, telling, and selling when interacting with employees . Teach them to do the same with their customers.
  2. Respect the intentions of others – leave the doubt behind and form a powerful guiding coalition between sales and marketing that builds trust that marketing has selected the right tactics and sales is executing to the best of their ability. Challenge the process during discussions but leave the meeting united to execute at the highest level possible. This allows for a level of disagreement but doesn’t allow for individuals to become disagreeable (always separate the issue from the individual or the team)
  3. Connect all tactics and actions with the desired employee and customer experience. Tell these stories over and over again. Embed these stories within the fabric of the organization.
  4. Set out what is a "non-negotiable" item so that teams of employees don’t try to get out of something which must be implemented.

Change is possible and necessary and can result in an empowering and uniting organizational transformation primed for achieving great success but it is rooted in solving for the truth statements of the organization.

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