I was recently discussing how company culture and strategy are tightly linked in building high performing, healthy organizations during one of the graduate-level business strategy classes I facilitate at a local university.
One of my students reached out directly to share that he was struggling to understand the role that folks play to bring about positive organizational change. He expressed that he feels that he is not at a level within his own organization where he alone can bring about positive change to issues like....
- Communication barriers: Important information not being regularly conveyed up, down, and across the organization, which creates confusion and a lack of transparency.
- Internal politics: Fragmented or silo-based conversations, where individuals are posturing and operating with their own agendas as opposed to what's best for the organization.
- Lack of trust: People too intimidated to voice their real opinions, even when asked, for fear of repercussion or being made to feel stupid.
This common disconnect typifies the challenges I see companies face every day in our consulting practice, where we expose executives to approaches, frameworks, and processes to address these very challenges. Some immediately grasp these ideas and take action to move their team and organization forward. Others, like the student I spoke with, are unable to see how these concepts could work, let alone be applied, and often express that the thinking behind them is too optimistic or isn't based on reality. This type of immediate rejection is disempowering, but don’t give up hope.
Positive organizational change is not only possible but achievable through people at all levels of the organization. As a leader, this is great news because it means the burden doesn't fall solely on you. You have an army of ambassadors that can and will help you transform your organization: your people.
Here are four important behaviors you can adopt now to help you call-on and empower individuals at any level to rise:
#1 Engage your people
Understand what it is that you, as a leader, can do to support, motivate, and foster individual growth and performance. Ask good questions, listen intently, and use employee insights to drive better decision making.
#2 Model the way
People don't know what they don't know, which means you have to provide solid and consistent leadership and equip them with the knowledge and skills to rise and lead with confidence.
#3 Create clarity
People have difficulty taking ownership when they're unclear or uncertain. Create clarity on what is most important, what the company values in behavior and attitude, and then reinforce that clarity so individuals can more easily and readily take ownership.
#4 Foster accountability
Encourage individuals to take personal responsibility for both their successes and failures. There's much to learn from both so create space for reflection and promote a failing-forward mindset.
You can build a healthy, vibrant, high-performing organization; you just have to understand that people, culture, and change play massive roles in this effort. Recognize that everyone in the organization wants to contribute in a positive way, regardless of tenure or title, and that it's up to you, as a leader, to create the environment where this can exist.
Give Rise to a High Performing Team
Given today’s ever-changing work climate, whether your organization is still entirely remote, partially remote, or has already returned to the office, you as a leader now understand the importance of fostering the engagement, performance, and well-being of your team, no matter the circumstances.
We understand this is no easy task— there’s no manual on how to effortlessly lead through change. If you want to be attuned to the vulnerabilities and risks plaguing their business and employees, we encourage you to launch our Working Well Survey. With this free tool, you’ll gain valuable insights that will help you ensure your employees get the most out of their work experience.