8 Steps To Inspiring Change In Your Organization

Chris Heinz - May 30, 2013

Let’s say you’re the energy manager for a multi-site company.

One of your tasks is to reduce energy use by company employees. But this isn’t easy. The building controls reside with the employees in different states. You can only be in one place at one time. Your job performance is in their hands. To be successful, you have to change their behaviors.

According to Harvard Medical School, change is a process, not an event. Lasting change doesn’t happen quickly or haphazardly. Sure, you can try to change—do something different for a little while—but unless you plan the change process, it will probably fail.

So what can you do? Here are 8 steps to inspiring change in your organization.

Make a Plan
The process of change takes planning. A jolt of inspiration might be the catalyst for the idea of change, and it can infuse creativity and passion into the process. But inspiration alone can’t carry the change. Intention has to take over where inspiration falls short. A well-planned change process will meet the objections and signal to others that you’re serious about it. Planning is a best practice for success.

Idea: Take your time to plan a comprehensive change process, thinking about every step.

Signal That a Shift Has Come
Make a visible statement that it’s a new season. Do something memorable rather than just announcing it. Create a sensory experience that transcends the intellect. Stir emotions. This magnifies the importance of the change and declares that things are going to be different. It also shows intentionality.
Idea: Create a website for your company’s conservation efforts.

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Live the Change Out Loud
If you’re not living the change, why should others? Leading change is living the change out loud. How can you ask them to do something that you’re not willing to do? Your appeal will fall short and you’ll lose credibility if you don’t adopt the change yourself. You’ve got to be the biggest fan of your proposal. If you’re not convinced, they won’t be.

Idea: Blog about your own change effort, post on the website, and distribute appropriately.

Demonstrate the Value
Change is about personal cost and value. When a change is proposed, the natural response is, “How will this affect me?” Next comes a cost and benefit analysis, even if it’s informal and instantaneous. People want to know what the change will cost them and what benefits they’ll receive—this is value. As one who is living the change out loud, you’re in a good position to demonstrate the value. Don’t just explain the value—demonstrate it.
Idea: Show what your company will do with cost savings.

Communicate Clearly What You’re Asking Them To Do
Ambiguity creates inaction. If people are confused about what you’re saying, they won’t act. Be very clear about what you’re asking them to do. Rehearse your appeal. Wordsmith it. Clarify. Simplify. Leave no room for misunderstanding. Put yourself in their position. They’re hearing this for the first time. They haven’t bought into the value yet. They haven’t immersed themselves in the change process like you have. Understand your audience and deliver the appropriate message.
Idea: State in writing exactly what you’re asking employees to do.

Provide Tools for Success
Identify tools to help your people be successful. Calling for change and not providing help is like telling someone she’s sinking in quicksand, but not doing anything about it. It’s cruel and short-sighted. But if you provide tools to help them through the change, there’ll be a higher rate of adoption. It shows them you know change is a challenge, but you care about their success.
Idea: Post reminders near control switches.

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Offer a Short Term Incentive
In addition to tools, offer a short term incentive that will motivate the employees until the benefits can be realized and demonstrated. Once the value is being reaped, the incentive can be removed. The goal of the incentive is to take the focus off the pain that change brings. The incentive ought to be related to (or at least not in opposition to) the appeal. It also has to be personal. Your colleagues will be asking, “What’s in it for me?”
Idea: Start a weekly contest of energy reduction for a fixed amount of time and throw a pizza party for the winners.

Measure Tangible Success
Finally, decide how to measure success. Exactly how will success be measured? It’s one thing to call for change, but if you don’t have a way to measure success tangibly, you won’t know if you’ve reached your goal--and no one else will either. What’s the point then? Don’t skip this critical step.
Idea: Provide online energy information so employees can track their building’s usage.

Yes, leading change is hard. But you can motivate your organization if you follow the right steps.

How else can you inspire change in your organization? You can comment by clicking here.

Topics: Energy Management

Chris Heinz

About the Author
Chris Heinz

Chris is Vice President of Human Resources for EnergyCAP, Inc., which helps organizations get value from their utility bills through energy management software. He's an Associate Certified Coach by the International Coach Federation, a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, and a Certified Professional Life Coach. He also started www.Munyay.com to help people love their life and love their work.

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