Mar 30, 2021

Top tips for companies wishing to build their organisational change capability

Emily Richter

Emily Richter

Top tips for companies wishing to build their organisational change capability

Faced with today’s unprecedented scale and pace of change, organisations need to ensure that they are on the front foot. Companies are increasingly beginning to acknowledge the importance of agility in helping them to succeed and meet their strategic objectives. This article covers our view of the top five strategies to guide companies in harnessing their ability to adapt to organisational change.

What is organisational agility?

Organisational agility - the ability to adopt new programmes, systems, processes, and new ways of working - is paramount to effective change management. According to a PwC survey of 1150 CEOs, 76% stated that their ability to adapt to change will be a key source of their competitive advantage. Organisational agility is becoming increasingly more crucial to an organisation’s success, and now more than ever, building a change capability is essential to survival.

But how does an organisation go about developing its change capability?

Read next: Business transformation in a crisis

Secure the right sponsorship

Research suggests that executive sponsorship is the greatest overall contributor to successfully building a change capability. Building organisational agility requires the right sponsor who wholeheartedly supports and commits to the effort.

The sponsor and leadership team will have the ability to set the tone of how the change is managed and perceived throughout the organisation. They will be responsible for setting the overall vision and direction, as well as communicating the reason for the change programme and expected outcomes to employees. Their promotion and support can ultimately determine how change is implemented into an organisation's operations. The sponsor needs to provide the resources, budget, and guiding vision for the change effort to come alive and must be an active participant throughout the journey.

Reflect upon today’s culture vs the culture you wish to develop

Organisational culture and value systems contribute to the unique environment in which a company functions, as well as how staff interact with each other and their customers. Culture should therefore be an important consideration in your strategy for developing an internal change capability.

To develop a culture in which organisations can respond to change, management needs to create a supportive culture that promotes change, continuous innovation, diffusion of information, teamwork, and employee learning. Steiber goes beyond this to suggest that companies need to apply a fundamentally new approach for managing their organisations in the digital era . Today’s landscape highlights the importance of innovation, adaptability, and rapid response, and these qualities are key to establishing the culture required by an organisation to respond to the constantly evolving landscape.

Build a ‘change champion’ network

Establishing a change capability requires a concerted effort to gain buy-in for change and to reinforce the intended benefits of the change. To achieve this, organisations need to develop a network of ‘change champions’ whose job is to extend the change message, generate awareness around the change, and increase credibility of the change programme. The make-up of change networks will differ across organisations, but they typically include a representative across a range of different departments or functions, comprised of a variety of roles, ranging from team leaders through to those fulfilling operational roles.

Reinforce the importance of the change management competency

Change management is fundamentally a methodology that we apply to our projects. At the same time, it is also an individual skillset and organisations should therefore recognise the importance of developing change management as a core competency. Against each role, companies should begin by mapping the types of change management skills they wish to develop. For managers, this could be about building their competency to facilitate and drive change, whilst for the C-level executives, it will typically be about leading change.

We recommend that organisations integrate the change management competency into business models, frameworks, and job roles. This should be supported by ensuring that staff are given the appropriate training, tools, and resources to develop their skills in managing change. This will enable the organisation to develop ‘change practitioners’ or ‘change leaders’ who will be key assets when the company needs to embed change in the future.

Make time to build in staff awareness and desire for change

Once you have committed to developing a change capability, allowing sufficient time to create awareness of the importance of change management cannot be overstated. A common model to apply is the ADKAR model, which is a Prosci change management methodology focused on:

  • Creating AWARENESS of upskilling staff in change management;

  • Building DESIRE by outlining the change benefits and outcomes to the employee;

  • Ensuring that each individual staff member is equipped and has the KNOWLEDGE to embrace change;

  • Ensuring staff have the ABILITY to change;

  • Developing a plan to REINFORCE and underpin why the organisation wishes to build a change capability as well as a plan for achieving this.

In a nutshell

Effective change management takes time and requires a collective effort from everyone within an organisation to develop the relevant change competencies. To thrive, companies will need to stay ahead of the competition and focus on building their change agility to respond to future change. Investing time in developing a core change competency will be a huge transformation for many as it is fundamentally asking the organisation to alter how organisational changes are managed and executed. By deploying the top tips covered in this article and investing time, resource, goal setting, and planning in developing the change agility, organisations will begin to reap the benefits of their change capability. If you would like to learn more about organisational change management, please get in touch with one of our transformation experts.

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