Mar 27, 2013
123RF Stock Photo
123RF Stock Photo

For the foreseeable future, there’s little doubt businesses will continue to experience significant change and we need to get comfortable with that — both as individuals and as organizations.

Some change will be foisted upon us by customers, competitors, or the marketplace. Other change will be driven by visionary leaders seeking to find competitive advantages or operational efficiencies. Either way, we’ll be seeing a lot more changes and we must become effective at executing it.

Changing an organization’s strategy or operations — or any part of it — is never easy. Only about a third of all change initiatives succeed, so it’s essential to manage change, rather than leaving the process to chance.

Focusing on those who have the most influence

A common problem when organizations try to implement change, is waning momentum when employees don’t immediately adapt the new process. Sometimes the employees simply don’t want the change, and sometimes the problem is a poorly structured plan that makes change harder for employees or customers to embrace.

While this reality may be frustrating, it’s an ideal situation for a recognition or reward program. By their very nature, reward and recognition programs are often implemented to change people’s behavior. A well-designed program will include detailed plans for moving people from one set of behaviors and results to another, with fully formed assessment, communications, tracking, and reward strategies to enable that change.

Start your change initiative by focusing on the employees who have the most influence over the process, result, or work you want to change. Ensuring they have both the tools and the willingness to change is often essential to the rest of the organization following through with the conversion.

Going to your influencers and building their buy-in will ensure a successful transformation happens faster, and utilizing a recognition program to reinforce the change initiatives will help employees remain engaged throughout the course of the change.

Fundamentals of a change initiative

Like any other recognition program, a change-based initiative needs to employ the same essential program fundamentals that lead to success or the change won’t last. The initiative should be:

  • Tailored to meet clearly articulated objectives;
  • Inclusive of all contributing employees;
  • Tied to specific behaviors and outcomes;
  • Supported and reinforced by senior leadership;
  • Well communicated;
  • Inclusive of rewards that resonate with the audience; and,
  • Measured or analyzed along the way.

Looking seriously at the benefits

There’s an art and a science to doing change management right, just as there is in doing recognition effectively, and you would be wise to enlist professional help.

Business leaders wouldn’t attempt to be their own legal counsel or trust their corporate financials to the absolute lowest bidder, and the same care should be taken when it comes to recognition programs that impact a majority of employees who can contribute to — or derail — the organization achieving its goals.

Business leaders need to take a serious new look at the benefits of incentives and recognition — tools that have proven their effectiveness for well over 100 years and are readily available to do the heavy lifting when leaders feel the need to make changes to address the challenges plaguing their organizations.

Recognition programs should be in every leader’s tool kit and utilized on a regular basis to navigate change successfully.

This was originally published on the OC Tanner blog.

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