Q&A with Paul Dickinson | Leading effective change
IECL’s General Manager, Paul Dickinson has over 25 years’ experience consulting with the leaders of UK, Asia and Australia based organisations on how to embed change. In this Q&A, Paul shares with Nicole Sitosta his golden rules on how senior management can successfully promote and effect change in their organisation.
Q: As the saying goes, the only thing that is constant is change. And you would understand this, as your consulting engagements are inherently about organisational change. What have you found has led organisations down the path to consult you?
Paul: Unfortunately, a lot of the time, an organisation’s change approach goes slightly awry. A great vision and/or process for change initiation is in place, but they haven’t figured out the people component. This is most prevalent in larger organisations. I’ve found that nine out of 10 change initiatives are not communicated properly or enough, resulting in leaders realising that they are not getting buy-in, and experiencing resistance from their people. This is often because the sufficient level of trust has not been gained to successfully start such an initiative.
Q: So what does it take to ensure that said level of trust is gained throughout an organisation?
Paul: Successfully-led change journeys need:
- A strong and well communicated vision from the CEO, where the CEO is seen as approachable and “human”, not as aloof or distanced from the workforce.
- A message so clearly communicated that you could talk to anyone at any level in the orgnanisation and they can repeat what the vision/change/benefit is.
- All levels of management to have excellent communication skills and relationships with their reports.
Q: And what’s the flipside? What should organisations be aware of that may not lead them to their desired change outcomes?
Paul: The most common mistake is developing a strategic change initiative that has the primary focus on changing systems and processes and neglects the people. The second is change fatigue, where organisations continuously undertake change and restructure that consistently fail. The third big mistake that organisations make is not seeking the opinions of their stakeholders; quite simply put not asking their people what’s working and what’s not.
Q: In any given change journey, you seem to be emphasising that people are the key to effecting real and sustainable change. What is your parting thought provoker for leaders who are on the brink of a change journey?
Paul: Have you earned the level of trust and depth of relationship required to engage all your people in a successful change initiative? And when you have done that…communicate, communicate and communicate!