A clear view of the end-state helps people get onboard with a new idea — something well known in the consumer behavior and marketing arena.
For example, a fitness chain or a diet club boosts the interest of potential members by focusing on a vision of lifelong health or a fantastic body image rather than describing daily workouts or highly structured food choices. This works for consumer marketing because after the customer is sold on the membership, it becomes his or her own responsibility to implement the vision. Not so for an organizational change initiative.
Implementing a change initiative is much more of a balance — between leadership and followership. A compelling, long-term vision is a key part of leadership. It grounds the meaning and effect of the initiative within the organization. It gives employees a good sense of what to expect when the initiative is implemented. It also helps people understand how the change affects their work as well as their role in the organization. Vision is a necessary but not sufficient to get employees fully onboard as effective followers.
Effective, committed followers trust that leaders are fully behind the initiative and will guide it through implementation. An implementation strategy, with a concrete roll out plan, can set the foundation of the trust. Aligning the organization with the implementation strategy by—making sure that planning, budgeting, measuring outcomes, and evaluating employee performance all line up with the vision—increases trust that leaders are fully behind the change. Pilot projects to test ideas in the vision and plans to learn from them helps demonstrate leadership that, in turn, engenders followership engagement.
Providing the support to ensure employees can be successful with the change further builds trust and commitment. This includes providing tools, technology, processes, or needed skills training. It also means rewarding and celebrating successes that move the initiative forward. Consistent, two-way communication of both successes and challenges is essential. This includes making sure employees are safe to raise concerns. No leader is omniscient. Employee concerns may identify obstacles so they can be addressed before they grow into big problems. Knowing that they have an influence on the initiative itself or on its implementation builds employee commitment.
While an abstract vision of a desired end-state may be enough to sell someone on a product, implementing a change requires a balancing act of leadership and followership. Leaders who develop a compelling vision, outline a well planned roll out strategy, and make sure employees have the necessary tools engender follower commitment and tip the balance toward success.
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Originally published by DR. ANDREA SHAPIRO in Training Indistry