Companies today are in a transition brought on by the global pandemic, and its aftermath impact on business, society, and all of the interrelated organizations is incalculable. Transitions are now a key aspect of any organization’s change process. Just ask any CEO of any business if they are rethinking their organizational strategy and the resounding answer will be, “Yes, of course!”

There are so many ideas and ways to lead a successful organizational change that many find the process complicated and hard. We only half agree. We agree that it’s hard to make change successful, but we think it’s simple if you have the secret to organizational change.

First, let’s start with some foundational thinking about organizational change:

  • It will impact all employees in an organization
  • Employees will need help letting go of how they used to do things and accepting new ways
  • The process is typically stressful for most people because most people don’t like change
  • It will disrupt a business for some time, sometimes a lengthy time 
  • It will require senior leaders’ uncompromising belief in the change

One of the keys to understanding how to create a successful organizational change is to realize the barriers you will be up against. This is a bit theoretical, but stay with me, and I promise it will make sense. Many executives view the strategic planning process through the lens of exploration and their commitment to the change. What I mean is they will offer a new strategy and do all they can to see to its success. 

This isn’t negative unless they fail to calculate what will be required by those who are going to implement the change. The executive’s enthusiasm always builds as the new strategy comes into view, but this is not a shared enthusiasm to those who will be charged to carry out the change. And that’s where the entire process breaks down. 

Often in this situation, leaders receive from their managers and employees the opposite reaction to what they expected. Rather than being excited about the new change, they react with a long list of objections and reasons why the change isn’t going to work. 

Some organization’s cultures don’t allow this type of negative feedback so what results is a verbal agreement with a deep-seated distrust for the change and those that created it. If you have been in this situation, you know how disheartening it is for both leaders and staff.

So what is the secret to successful organizational change? This is the simple part. Strategy planners must involve all parties in the strategic planning process by asking for their input, ideas and taking into account their objections while the strategy is being formulated. This process must have several circle-back reviews to all parties so everyone is involved. Everyone needs to be heard so they feel like their opinions matter.

Now at the end of the day, it’s left to the CEO and team leaders to make the final choice, but that choice should be well understood by managers and employees far before its implementation begins. My research at MarketCues using our SmartPlan360™ Platform of thousands of leaders, managers, and employees shows that organizational change fails when everyone is not included in the planning process.