Creating Opportunities to Embrace Change: 3 Steps for a More Adaptable Workforce
- May 11, 2023
“Enjoying success requires the ability to adapt. Only by being open to change will you have a true opportunity to get the most from your talent.”
— Nolan Ryan, former pro baseball player and sports executive
Managing organizational change in today’s fast-paced workforce
In the last five years, our world has demanded fast-paced change. From emerging technologies to economic fluctuations and new environmental standards, it can be difficult for businesses to stay afloat. Organizations are constantly challenged to reestablish themselves to maintain a competitive advantage. As a result, organizational change management is no longer a single event experience or a simple, project-based effort. Instead, organizations are trying to continuously adapt through multiple simultaneous change initiatives.
The smallest change can be viewed with suspicion and distrust. Leaders often fail to understand how to help employees navigate change, let alone be successful through change. To evolve and enable employees to approach change with a positive mindset, ultimately adopting change faster, organizations should seek to develop a critical competency within their organization — adaptability. Adaptability is the willingness to respond to planned or unplanned changes with confidence and trust and accomplish tasks in a way that produces positive results.
An organization that continuously builds and refines the right capabilities will create a more adaptable workforce. Common attributes of adaptable workforces include increased enterprise-wide decision-making, in which employees at every level feel empowered to identify opportunities for improvement and have a ‘voice’ to make recommended changes. They also include safe environments that provide employees with transparency, a shared sense of purpose, and trust for experimentation without repercussions. These attributes yield high levels of employee engagement and a culture of accountability because all contributions are rewarded — both successes and mistakes.
Our People and Organization Consulting Practice partners with leaders to assess the level of adaptability within their organization and build adaptability over time, using effective organizational change management (OCM) practices. We do this by following a three-step process.
Step 1: Collect and analyze data
It can be difficult to know if your organization is operating on a foundation of ‘low’ adaptability. Signs of ‘low’ adaptability, such as role uncertainly, high turnover, or change saturation, may be tied to other underlying causes. So, how do you accurately assess the current level of adaptability within your organization?
The first step is to collect change data through structured, data-driven change assessments. Our consultants customize assessments based on several elements of the organization to gather two types of data:
- Quantitative data focused on the variety, pace and volume of change. This type of data includes a stakeholder analysis to analyze and understand the motivations and needs of all stakeholders, or a change impact assessment to identify and define change across each stakeholder group, and
- Qualitative data that captures the “voice” of your organization, such as employee surveys or focus group sessions.
Step 2: Form targeted change interventions
The next step is to create effective and appropriate change interventions. Change interventions are any activities designed, and executed jointly with organizational leaders, for supporting those impacted by changes in unique and structured ways. The summary of data in Step 1 produces change requirements, which serve as the primary input for creating change interventions.
Forming effective change interventions from change requirements requires an understanding of organizational maturity and adoption readiness so that interventions are appropriate and meet employees where they are. This evaluation includes answering a set of questions, such as what change tactics have been successful in the past, what specific issues should the intervention focus on, and what level and mode within the organization should the intervention be employed — individual, group or organization wide?
Step 3: Plan and manage the implementation of change interventions successfully
The final step in the process is implementing change interventions successfully. This step is two-pronged — it begins with forming detailed plans followed by robust management and tracking of those plans.
The best practices for planning interventions include being clear on the purpose and vision of each intervention as well as the targeted group the interventions are aimed at, and the specific behaviors you are targeting to change within those groups. Each intervention should contain the appropriate 'depth' per the group’s readiness and capability. Finally, interventions should offer both experience-based and concept-based opportunities for learning. A well-formed change intervention should liberate, rather than generate anxiety.
Our People and Organization consultants leverage these best practices and then use proven tools and templates to create OCM strategies and plans, such as an OCM Workplan and / or Engagement Schedule. The OCM Workplan details and tracks all change interventions in addition to OCM milestones and dependencies to drive accountability and make sure timelines are achieved. The Engagement Schedule is an orchestrated list of recommended communication and training items to make sure the right audiences receive the right information at the right time.
The best practices for managing interventions include adequately preparing the organization by communicating plans and timelines; closely tracking implementation progress and driving accountability across responsible parties and gathering feedback from impacted groups to continuously improve interventions. Managing and continuously improving interventions should extend beyond the duration of the program to build long-term sustainment for interventions to become business-as-usual routines.
Our consultants are highly trained on proprietary dashboards that allow us to view and manage progress of our strategies and plans using real-time data. All dashboards are fully customized based on the needs of the program and organization. The OCM Workplan Dashboard provides real-time views of change interventions and milestones. Filters can be applied to display specific timeframes, accountable parties and sets of tasks. The Engagement Dashboard presents each communication and training item included in the Engagement Schedule. Filters allow team members to view content specifics based on the criteria selected.
When change interventions are planned and managed effectively, capabilities can form and grow, such as alignment, coordination, empowerment and trust. If cultivated and supported over time, these capabilities yield adaptability to change. The table below provides illustrative examples of how the ‘right’ change interventions can ultimately form progressive capabilities.
Start your journey to implementing organizational change management
Our three-step process is the blueprint to build adaptability, enabling employees to view change in an open, positive way, with less anxiety and fear. Following this process will allow your organization to take on more change at a faster rate and realize benefits more quickly.
It's imperative that we find a way to ease the strain of continuous, ever-evolving change on employees. As a trusted global innovator with over 5,000 global clients, NTT DATA’s People and Organization Consulting Practice enables businesses and their people to thrive.
Stay tuned for part two of our three-part series where we'll build upon the concept of creating adaptability and highlight the importance of establishing metrics for a successful OCM program.
Learn more about impactful organizational change management strategies by visiting NTT DATA’s People and Organization Consulting Practice.