Go to any business conference or networking event around the world today and you’re bound to hear someone talking about how important it is for organisations to be flexible and open to change. Recognising that need and actually implementing change within an organisation are, of course, two very different things.
Knowing that, how do you go about ensuring change isn’t just an ideal, but something that actually happens?
The answer lies in making that change as simple as possible.
Running at the wall
Think about it like this: if your organisation is currently on one side of a wall and the company you want to be is on the other, how would you go about getting to the other side?
Everyone could run at the wall until it crumbles, but that’s unlikely to happen and a lot of people could end up getting hurt along the way.
A far better option would be to find a ladder that’ll allow you to climb over the wall, or digging implements that’ll allow you to dig under.
Here are some practical examples of what that might look like.
Designing for collaboration
Let’s say, for instance, that the change you want to foster is increasing the levels of collaboration in your organisation.
A good place to start is by looking at the design and layout of your workspace. How many opportunities are there for people to spontaneously bump into each other? Are there neutral meeting areas that don’t require booking and are easy to get to?
While you might not be able to build a giant atrium with a single set of bathrooms leading off it like Steve Jobs did at Pixar, there are a few, much simpler, things you can do.
Some companies, such as Skullcandy have desks on wheels, which can easily be moved and reconfigured for collaboration.
Others have lounge-style spaces where people can work together on projects without having to go through the formal process of booking a conference room.
Making newcomers feel welcome
Another aspect of change management that companies struggle with, especially as they grow larger, is making newcomers feel welcome.
Even when there’s a great overall culture, people who haven’t been in the organisation from the start can be left feeling isolated and left out.
This may have nothing to do with existing employees doing anything wrong and can simply be down to them not knowing who the new starter is.
There are a couple of ways to get around this. Online art and design company 1stdibs, for example, give all new hires a balloon that says “1st Day at 1stdibs.” The balloon floats above their desk all day, making it easier for people to spot newcomers and introduce themselves.
Making bad behaviours difficult
But what if you want to discourage bad behaviour instead of trying to promote good behaviour?
In some cases, you can employ a tech-based solution. German auto giant Volkswagen, for instance, programmed its email server to stop delivering messages 30 minutes after work and begin sending again 30 minutes before the start of the new work day. That way, the option of fretting about emails at night simply isn’t there.
There are more low-tech solutions to high-tech problems though. As this HBR article points out, when website building company Squarespace wanted to stop its employees multitasking during meetings, it didn’t ban them bringing in their phones. Instead, it left a box of small toys in each conference room, giving people something to fidget with during the meeting. Attention rates improved dramatically.
Keep it simple
The underlying message behind each of these examples is that you should keep things as simple as possible. Do it that way and you’re much more likely to achieve success than if you implement draconian rules or force change on your employees.
If you’d like help with implementing change in your organisation, contact us here.