On December 8, it was with great interest that I attended the very first conference organized by Événement Les Affaires dealing with organizational transformation. Managers from various organizations spoke about their experiences and the strategic challenges they faced during major transformations, and they shared some constructive solutions.
Every speaker mentioned that no matter what the organizational transformation, success invariably depends on having employees play an active role.
Here are some key ideas expressed during the meeting.
Justine Gagnon: “Every human being likes to be called upon for his or her judgement and knowledge.”
As General Manager, Organizational Mobilization & Performance, at YELLOW PAGES Group, Justine Gagnon started from this premise to recommend involving employees in the process of writing a company’s vision statement. This ensures that they’ll recognize themselves in the proposed change and take ownership of it. It also provides the organization with an opportunity to debate and negotiate different ideas, as well as to create a forum to exchange with employees. The objective is not necessarily to reach a consensus, but rather to create meaning and to benefit from good ideas from the rank and file, i.e. the employees who’ll be living with the transformation on a daily basis.
Charles-Mathieu Brunelle: “You have to get your employees on board with rational arguments, of course, but also with emotional appeals.”
The Director of ESPACE POUR LA VIE, Charles-Mathieu Brunelle, focused on the emotional aspect of employee engagement and involvement. He argues that state-of-mind is a powerful leverage tool to manage change, and that you have to know how to recognize your employees’ responsibilities and empower them to take action. This way, the organization will be in a position to quickly demonstrate its commitment to change, while still maintaining a human approach.
BDC: “Obviously, your best ambassadors for change are your employees.”
Based on this statement, the speakers from the BDC recommended a 5-step process:
- Encouraging open innovation
- Regularly monitoring the level of employee mobilization
- Communicating with employees without overwhelming them with information
- Developing their individual capabilities through training
- Accentuating recognition by celebrating their efforts and successes
Organizations often want to act quickly, on a tight budget. But many of them fail when they try to take shortcuts with the people who are targeted by the proposed change, such as bypassing essential phases in the communication, engagement or participation process. The net take-away of these conferences is that in all successful transformations, the people affected by the change are placed at the very core of all considerations.
So where do those people fit in your transformation strategy?