In this episode, I welcome Giovanna Manto to discuss ways of increasing the chance of success for your organisation’s change program. Giovanna is a co-founder of Healthy Change Partners and a leadership coach with Healthy Organizational Change. She brings key insights from a recent study she performed at INSEAD where she analysed resistance to change in an organisation that she was coaching.
Why is increasing the chances of success for your change program interest you?
[0:40] Giovanna’s research highlights the key challenges experienced by field practitioners in delivering change programs. She wants to make the programs more sustainable and effective in the long run.
Giovanna observed congruence coming from the leadership of an organisation that had asked her and her partner to assign and deliver a change program for them. This program aimed at shifting the way people trust each other. The objectives of this project were large, and the amount the company was willing to invest was considerable. What struck her curiosity were inconsistent messages coming from diagnosis interviews. Giovanna felt resistance and strong doubts, which were indicators that the people who had hired her were not supporting the change. The top executives had the attitude of “go out, change this organization, but please leave me alone.”
What are some of the main reasons that organizations fail to make change happen?
There are four major factors that she saw during her interviews:
- [2:35]The inconsistency of the top leadership. They saw change as something what involves others but not themselves. Really, the change process starts from the top. They need to be the change that they want to see.
- [6:35]The lack of synchronicity. In the less effective programs, leaders failed to deliver actions and messages at the same time with he same pace and weight. Paying attention to the specific culture and needs is important for multinational companies. Everyone should be told what is happening at the same time.
- [8:58]The use of psychodynamics gets misunderstood. Change programs go deep into people’s essence of being, which can be quite intimidating for most people. When psychodynamics is well understood and used properly, people gain more awareness on how they can influence others. They will become better listeners and feel more empathetic towards others.
- [13:46] The lack of dedicated time for reflection. This means making time to ask ourselves the tricky questions about how effectively we are doing our work. This is a concept that agile organizations have become accustomed to in retrospective meetings they do. Teams working on a project regularly take time to gather and reflect on what went well and the areas that need improvement. Organizations that neglect to do properly do these meetings have an outcome that is difficult to measure. The organizations that thrive are the ones that intentionally make time in their busy schedule to offer their people a space where they can feel free to learn from their success and failures without shame.
“Most of these people are high-achievers who are very action-biased, who have worked very hard, and gotten their way. What’s gotten them here by working hard, by getting things done, being self-sufficient, and being strong is not actually getting them to the next level”
What are some of the solutions your research suggests?
[18:30]The solution that the study suggests is to get thoroughly prepared as much as possible and minimise the ignorance factors. Prepare yourself by hiring a triumvirate of key organizational members who know the space and contain the overall change. This triumvirate rests on three pillars:
- The strengths of business executives.
- The strengths of HR professionals.
- The strengths of external coaches and consultants.
This model is in its first stages and needs to be tested further, but what can be argued at this point is that organizational transformations need to be sustained all the way.
“My research finds that business executives and promotors and inspirers, whereas the HR professionals are the catalyzers, and the coaches and consultants are the facilitators; they bring in the expertise.”
It is important that the three have an overview of the change programs and support the top leadership that sponsors this program in synchronicity. They also must be synchronized when paying attention to the psychodynamics and in truly believing in what the change program can bring.
What is one last message you have for the audience?
Ultimately, changing an organization is a marathon, not a sprint. We need to prepare ourselves carefully if we want to lead the process effectively. Once we have experienced the change, we’ll know what it takes and, depending on the role we have in an organization, we’ll be ready to join forces.
“Only when you know what it takes to make change happen for oneself can you make it happen for your team, for the organization, and in the society at large.”