From change and transformation to sustainability - The Lang Consultancy
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From change and transformation to sustainability

From change and transformation to sustainability

Any change in an organisation will need to be embraced, lived and supported by its most precious commodity, its people. While political and regulatory environments dictate the way businesses are run, it is a motivated, efficient and effective workforce then enables them to succeed.

Like or hate it, Brexit will bring enormous change for businesses through transformed regulation, trade policies, labour laws, new financial management, and many other challenges.

“…while Britain and Europe are negotiating over what happens to European Union citizens who now work in Britain (as well as Britons who work in other European Union countries), no-one is sure how these ralks will go…” (NYT Sept 18, 2017). Many employees’ lives will be transformed in deeply personal ways. They may need to move to a different country, they may be working under a different regime or leadership. Their hours of work, pay scales and contractual obligations may change, their reporting lines and accountability shifted, their place of work reorganised. They may need to get used to a new corporate culture.

Sounds familiar?

Any change in an organisation will need to be embraced, lived and supported by its most precious commodity, its people. While political and regulatory environments dictate the way businesses are run, it is a motivated, efficient and effective workforce then enables them to succeed.

These are not tasks to be taken lightly. We can read through articles such as this one to our hearts’ content, but implementing strategies for change needs experience, thought, sensitivity, patience, and above all, full commitment.

The interminable debate among business strategists is where the responsibility for change management sits. Does it sit with HR alongside the gamut of transactional issues it needs to address? Does it sit with Communications alongside its broad remit including external stakeholder engagement? Does it sit with Corporate services alongside strategic planning? Or does it sit with the CEO?

I believe that issues directly relating to people and reputation must sit firmly inside the CEO’s office. They are too precious to be delegated as they deal with the heart and brains of an organisation, without which sustainability and growth is not possible. “True culture change means altering the way the organization lives and breathes. It shapes the way people make decisions, get their work done, what they prioritize, and how they interact with colleagues, clients, and customers.” (HBR Nov 2, 2016).

So what are the symptoms for change, how might you diagnose the need for a change programme and what would you need to have in place before embarking on such a programme?

First, watch for the symptoms. These might be structural (new CEO or Chair, a merger or acquisition, restructuring/redundancy), market led (sharp economic downturn/upturn, change in regulatory climate), technological (new innovations and technologies) or cultural and social.

Second, conduct a health check. Revisit past and recent employee surveys, team appraisals, feedback processes. This will help you assess your starting point to the change journey – will be uphill, stead or downhill?

Third, carry out an resource check. Do you have a team around you that is fit for purpose? Do you have the right external advisers signed up? Between the internal and external resource, do you have the right skills, experience, expertise? Is your leadership team on side? Is the CEO and/or Chair prepared to be actively involved and to lead from the front?

Fourth, think about communications. Real communications is about engagement and dialogue with your staff as well as external stakeholders, with a clear strategic line connecting the two. Treat communications as an afterthought at your peril.

In case all this sounds too complex to contemplate, remember that corporations which invite and embrace change are corporations which continue to develop and grow. Change is one of the key ingredients of sustainability.

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