As we roll on to a new year and possibly in every organization, every company, we talk about change. “This year we will change for the better.” “We are all about change.” “In order to move forward we embrace change.” Maybe, just maybe, there is too much expectations on this word.. change.

What is change?

A lot of leaders talks about change. We need to change our work habits, change our mindset, change the way we work, change our mannerism. But how can change happen without a stimulant, a trigger point.

We must understand people who work for us does not necessary see a company’s vision through a statement. But they are fully aware of how they feel when they get to work and what they get through everyday.

So what is change? Change is a result of a transformative action.

A transformation takes a longer time where in order to get there you have to start now. It’s a journey not a quick action. It takes time.. and this makes everyone feel uncomfortable.

Hang on a minute. Change makes employees feel uncomfortable?

When a leader suggests ‘a transformative journey’ – employees expect leaders to understand the progression leading to change and he/she will naturally lead the way. But when a leader suggests ‘let’s change for growth’ – people feel that they are asked to perform a behavioural change for better results but why would they?… That’s when ‘Change’ becomes just a word without any notion and motion.

If you are just starting to drive change then it would be better to say:

Let’s get on this transformation journey together to drive change.

What’s does that even mean?

Now, for leaders, a statement to a group of people who does not own your company is meaningless unless they throw in an exceptional inspiring story. But still…Believe me, you can’t find people who would live and die for your company or your purpose unless it matters to their personal lives (that’s why company benefits are important too. :D).

But majority of the people understands this.. remember:

They are fully aware of how they feel when they get to work and what they get through everyday.

Therefore, your transformation journey must have a succession plan that people can feel.

The transformation journey

There are 3 types of change to drive a transformative plan; environment, culture and an action plan.

Everyone deep dives directly to the action plan rather than the environment and culture. Others focus so much on culture and building the environment but forgets about the action plan. As I have the great opportunity to observe leaders fail / succeed in their transformation plans and tasted the result of a truly transformational journey. I can truly express that the recipe is to have all 3.

Ingredient #1 : Build the environment

The first thing a leader should do after his transformation speech is to start changing the environment. And I am not talking about bean bags and free food. It’s about daily habits that changes and environment.

Start with an enforcement thats related to the workplace.

  • Clean up your desks, boards, etc.
  • Open the blinds, have windows to let sunlight to drive positivity
  • Fill the space with fresh plants
  • Have a coffee machine that creates the aroma to keep people awake.

We are associative animals therefore when people see changes in environment they know that they have to act on change as well.

Ingredient #2 : Stimulate a Culture

Understand that people in an organization comes from different ethnic backgrounds. But as they choose to work in a company, they understand they have to abide to certain mannerism and practices.

This is about core values.

Again words.. people now may think. It’s really easy now being a leader with just a vocabulary list to act upon.

So core values are beliefs that everyone must adhere to. This must be represented in every piece of company’s communication materials and it must be repeated over and over again.

Over and over and over again. Like a mantra, a ritual, a sermon and a prayer. Over and over again. Remember over, over, over…….. then it will be ingrained in their minds.

Ingredient #3 : Exercise the Behaviour

And now the action. Everything people do must be guided. So what is the goal of the change that everyone must work towards. It can be crazy, but it must not fail to resonate to the people you employ, they must envision it in their heads and believe they can make this change together.

With the defined goal, you can then set the path towards it. And this goes:

1. Every dept heads need to derive a succession plan towards a single goal.

2. Derive the necessary actions needed

3. Execute it.

The last part is the hardest because this is getting work done to drive and see a result for change. But leaders have to drive it if they want to promote change.

And the last mile.

A transformation plan is a progressive plan and it takes a lot of time, planning and effort from the leaders themselves before the people.

But the end result would be the ‘change’ that all organizational leaders preaches about on the stage in a townhall. The only difference is as leaders, did we do the work before to drive that change or we just want to see change without understanding what needs to be done to start with.

Drive real change with results – inspired by the greater leaders before me.

Disclaimer: I speak from the greater experience from organizations that started change and observed the ups and downs leading to success or failures. All I can say, I was lucky to be part of many change processes within bigger organizations. But it’s truly my viewpoint and my personal views which can differ to many others.