• Nonprofit Learning Lab

How to Create Organizational Culture That Embraces Change

Updated: Jul 8

This is a guest blog post and is posted with permission from Ann Quinn of Quinn Strategy Group.


During this series on organizational transition, we’ve shared multiple examples from our work with clients who have experienced, and mastered, transition in their organizations. While the situations and details were different for each client, including their industry and desired outcome, they shared a common trait that had a major influence on their success:


Each organization in transition fostered a culture of change and demonstrated an openness to venturing out of their comfort zones in service of getting to a new place.


As a strategist, I believe that strategy is a cure for almost anything. But I also recognize the role that organizational culture plays in allowing a strategy to be successful. Leaders and their teams need a culture that supports them in shifting gears and plotting a new course in the face of uncertainty.

To use a cliché – change is inevitable. Which is why it's vital to create a workplace culture that provides the foundation for adapting to change.

So, for the last installment in our series on transition, let's take a look at how to create that foundation. In particular, let's focus on the one simple thing that too many organizations neglect:


How to create the working conditions that help your employees feel at ease during times of transition and which help them, and your organizational culture as a whole, become change-ready.


YOUR ACTION STEPS

Here are a few of the most valuable actions you can take to create a culture that embraces transition and change without leaving your employees behind:


Seek Feedback & Encourage Employee Participation. Requesting feedback from employees is a great way to show your team how much they are valued and that their opinions matter. Remember that smart leaders talk less and listen more.So, don't just think about transition from an organizational perspective with only management involved. Rather, ask for employee input early on and be transparent in your decision making. Employees who are engaged in the process will enable you to build a strong, change-ready culture faster.


Lead by Example. The leaders of an organization must be open to change themselves and model this openness in how they operate. After all, if leadership appears frustrated by or hesitant about a transition, employees will follow their example. When leaders model flexibility, open-mindedness, strategic thinking and risk tolerance, it gives the rest of the workforce more confidence when they are asked to make changes in their own roles and more assurance that the outcome will be positive.


Train Your Team. Often resistance to transition and change appears when there has been a lack of training on how to move into a new way of working. In fact, it's solid training (not inspirational speeches or feel-good employee events) that makes all the difference, helping your team actually build the capacity and competency they'll need to fully participate in any transition. Even more, when corporate values reflect the idea that change is good and that the organization desires to be "always evolving" then embracing change is baked into the organizational DNA right from the start. Once an "embrace change" mindset has been established for the organization as a whole, leaders can more easily put systems and processes in place that facilitate change and reinforce its value throughout the organization.

If you missed any of the articles in our series on organizational transition, find them here:


How to Transition from Running to Selling Your Business

3 Action Steps for Rocking Leadership Transition in a Nonprofit

Making the Transition from Advisory to Working Board

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