There are several steps that can help build sustainability in a change after it has been implemented whether that is expecting the change to survive because it is working or ignoring the risk factors. These are two of many different ways one may be able to gain sustainability for a change initiative. Also, one big this is do not defer sustainability planning as some may think it can be part of the change implementation, but in reality it can actually damage the sustainability of the project itself. When I have implemented change in the past, i made sure to incorporate a lot of post change follow ups because after the change gets implemented people tend to neglect the change. Which just because it is working in the moment, does not mean it is going to work forever. Sometimes it may need to be fine tuned or fixed in certain areas in order to keep the organization in the right direction. That is another reason why sustainability planning is so important because if I did not plan to follow up my change may have been neglected and all of my hard work to incorporate the change could have been for nothing. When a quick conversation with my employees is all it takes in order to get them back on track if they were to fall off. Change sustainability can be difficult at times, but it is not impossible.
Palmer, I., Dunford, R., & Buchanan, D. (2017). Managing organizational change: A multiple perspectives approach (3rd ed.). Retrieved from https://redshelf.com/
Change truly is inevitable and there is a clear difference between change that is superficial versus embedded sustaining change. So, is there really a way to successfully implement and sustain change? Yes, although implementing and sustaining change can be difficult and many organizations are known to fail at accomplishing this, there are effective leaders who are skilled at ensuring that their organization’s change initiative succeeds. There are differing thoughts on how to accomplish this. According to Palmer, Dunford, and Buchanan (2017), “No specific set of steps can guarantee success, but awareness of the threat to sustainability can lead to timely and effective responses” (pg. 362).
However, through further research, I discovered some communication strategies that have proven successful in some organizations and with some leaders. According to Gleeson, organizations that are in the midst of a change initiative should employ strategies such as using formal and informal communication check-ins; using leadership meetings to compile and disperse concise information to the correct people; being able to extend extreme transparency regarding the organization’s vision, direction, and an explanation as to why this is being done; constantly reminding the workers of their importance in the endeavor and revisiting the company’s current vision and the end goal; and finally, recognizing wins and milestones and celebrating them (2017).
As for making change stick, establishing channels of communication and building relationships between the organization, its managers and leaders and the stakeholders, goes a long way! Also helpful is to track the progress of the initiative; recognize accomplishments, performance, and when goals are reached; and by establishing a rewards system. According to Gleeson (2017), “when an organization creates trust through open communication—and by being willing to empower team members to both receive important information and act on it—it creates a truly collaborative, communicative environment – an organization poised for leading lasting change. A fully engaged team of warriors aligned behind a singular mission narrative. To win” (para. 22).
I recall from a few years ago when I used to work for Senior Whole Health in Cambridge, MA. Our department underwent a change initiative where the pharmacy claims department got a new director. The new director initiated a change of making all employees create a weekly business report, not just the department managers. At first, this was met with resistance, frustration, and anger by the employees who felt that this was too much work for their pay grade, was a waste of time and would require the employees to have to use personal time to complete these reports, being that they were only paid while on the clock. I recall that I too felt the way that the other employees did, but I completed the reports every week, as I was asked to. To my surprise, even though I felt that the new director did not personally like me, she chose my business report to use an example of the correct manner in which to write up a company business report. I was shocked, as I was just out of college and working with people much older and much more experienced than I was. In fact, she chose my reports month after month as the winner of the best reports and she established a cash reward system. This pushed others, including myself to compete to be better, to work harder, to learn more, and to push ourselves to be better workers and as a result, the new directors change initiative which was met with resistance became a fun and competitive learning experience as well as a company necessity for growth and success. Additionally, by having to do some research and run numbers the employees learned more about pharmacy claims department as a whole.
Gleeson, B. (2017). Strategies for making organizational change stick and building a bright future. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/brentgleeson/2017/10/31/strategies-for-making-organizational-change-stick-and-building-a-bright-future/#82e63ee6f7ac (Links to an external site.)
Palmer, I., Dunford, R., & Buchanan, D. (2017). Managing organizational change: A multiple perspectives approach (3rd ed.) [Electronic version].