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Oliver Wight EAME Blog

People – The Key to Change Management

25 February 2016


To stay on top in today’s complex and competitive business environment it is more important than ever for organisations to keep improving performance to strive for business excellence and transform their business for the better.

All too often when implementing business improvement programmes organisations overlook the importance of people and their behaviours, in ensuring that change is a smooth process. It is essential business leaders both recognise that people are the key drivers in any change management process and that they cultivate the right environment for change to happen. 

To extract the best possible performance from any business, it is vital to strike the right balance between behaviours, processes and tools. All three work harmoniously when the organisation hits the sweet spot where they intersect (see diagram below). Only then can lasting change be achieved.

It is not just the balance between the three but the sequence too. Building the right foundation for change must begin with people. Processes (designed to meet the needs of the company) must be with the buy in and involvement of the people to ensure the right behaviours (after appropriate coaching and education), not the other way around. Tools can then be aligned to the processes and therefore specified more effectively.

How to achieve this is a challenge, although it is straightforward. First, everybody has to understand the direction and strategy of the business and a top-down bottom up approach is fundamental. The messages and goals are delivered from the top down and performance delivered from the bottom up. Second, working in cross-functional teams rather than silos, allows improved communication and a greater understanding of each person’s roles and responsibilities. This in turn, ensures everyone is aware of their contribution to the overall business goal - not just for the coming year but across the next 24-36 months. 

Naturally, changing the behaviour of some individuals will be more challenging than others; in the next Oliver Wight blog, we will discuss empowerment as the principle enabler in aligning employees behind business goals.