There are two types of organizational change: change that is mandated and change that is proactive. The latter is easier and can be less emotional than the former, yet the lines often blur between the two – often because proactive change launched by one group is perceived as mandated change by another. Thus, both types take preparation and skillful execution if they are going to produce positive results.
Core to leading any significant change effort is organizational alignment. No amount of tactical change management training will substitute for having an entire organization that has a clear vision of goals, shared responsibility, and personal accountability to achieve results.
Organizational alignment enables significant change to occur due to a culture of personal accountability and the commitment everyone shares in achieving organizational goals and quality patient care. Strong organizational alignment commands buy-in – there is no option not to be on board with strategic initiatives.
There are eight core ways to assess the organizational alignment needed to enact significant change:
Clear Vision: All employees have a clear vision on what operational goals should be their top focus. This vision is aligned with their performance expectations and well communicated by leaders. The information required for improving work process flows freely across organizational boundaries and formal reporting relationships.
Clarity of Success Metrics: The parameters for how success will be measured are clearly communicated and understood at the beginning of a project, and employees understand how they will be measured. At best practice organizations, these success metrics are included in individuals’ annual performance goals.
Sense of Urgency: There a sense of urgency around the need to complete projects and firm milestones are well communicated. All employees take consistent action toward completion – the sense of urgency implies its organizational importance.
Firm Priorities (2-3): There are many improvement projects that require attention, yet senior leaders are personally involved in helping employees to prioritize which two or three strategic initiatives they should focus on at any given time. These priorities are in alignment across the organization.
Clear Decision-Making Roles: Everyone in the organization has a good idea of the decisions and actions for which he/she is responsible and the changes they can make without approval.
Decision Stickiness: Once made, decisions to make changes in work processes are rarely second-guessed or vetoed. Since opting out of decisions isn’t accommodated, individuals are focused on initiative implementation.
Change Barriers Removed to Keep Momentum: When barriers arise that block progress, leaders are quickly made aware and actions are taken to ensure momentum is maintained.
Empower Willing Change Leaders: The most successful change efforts include the early adopters and use internal, front-line change agents to sway the majority. Who are the willing? They are the few who raise their hand in support of any initiative – start with them.
Key to organizational alignment is the understanding of personal accountability and leadership responsibilities as well as styles of management that empower individuals to drive positive change.
There’s much more to come on this topic, and in anticipation I’ll leave you with a quote from New York Times bestselling author, leadership guru, and friend of Avantas, Cy Wakeman:
To learn more about how to manage change in your organization, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.