I’ve been teaching, speaking and writing about organizational engagement for many years. And what I’ve learned is that even when it is relatively simple to get buy-in for new ideas and concepts, a lot of companies get stuck in the weeds of process.
It’s hard to blame them really. After all, process - the methods used to carry out a project - is something we are conditioned to respect and look for. So shaking this habit is one of the hardest challenges to overcome.
As a result I’ve seen several worthy change methodologies turned into a series of processes that replicate - but don’t capture - an organizational culture that produces successful outcomes in the first place.
Methods come and go but the principles for engaging the willing contribution, ingenuity and commitment of others are timeless.
So what are those principles? Respect, inspiration and encouragement are crucial parts of the equation.
But what I’ve come to see as equally essential is adaptability. Small businesses live and breathe adaptability because they really have no choice. They are small, can shift gears easily and pivot their services to meet client needs when necessary. They may be small but their mightiness comes from their ability to gauge their market and quickly move things around in short order.
Mid-size and large organizations have a tougher go of it. Sure, they’re big but with that growth in capacity, they’ve lost their agility. Management layers requiring multiple sign offs can slow down the implementation of a service or delivery of a product to the point that it’s behind the creative curve in the marketplace before it even gets released. I read recently of a Microsoft employee observing that they delivered a new product in 2010 that had was eclipsed by the competition before it hit the market: too late and out-of-date.
Putting principles into practice to engage employees is essential and changing a work climate to one that values and encourages adaptability is difficult. But it is crucial if you want to stay competitive in an increasingly agile marketplace.