I’ve been reflecting lately on how the last two years have impacted and changed our lives forever. Technology was at the forefront of our new reality of how we get things done and stay connected with others. Honestly, it was a lifeline during very uncertain times. Some of those changes have stickiness and were quite innovative like using QR codes for restaurant menus or allowing employees to choose a hybrid work model. It can be hard to stay positive in times of such unpredictability. We are still experiencing rapid change in our organizations, and this will continue in the near future.
Our challenge with this new future of work is creating a synergistic relationship between technology and people, where people are excited about changes and advances. I want to express the critical skill of change leadership abilities because it is important as we go down this path together. I am sure many of us have been through poorly managed change programs in our careers. In research conducted by many leading consulting groups, their findings showed that 70-75% of change efforts were not sustained long-term within organizations. If we have that much failure incorporating AI and machine learning systems, we are in big trouble. This statistic shows that we need a different mindset when working toward our future organizations.
We need to shift away from burning platforms and rallying the troops without understanding the implications of how this change will impact our organizations and beyond. In large-scale change such as this, we need to think more about a macro level versus a micro level. How do we elevate our efforts to think beyond our immediate sphere of influence and knowledge to benefit from a much larger outreach? By tapping into and elevating human potential, we can drive change at the scale of the whole organization.
Recently, research around the positive aspects of change in our lives has come to the forefront and is showing very positive results in just shifting our mindset from a deficit or loss mode to growth and positivity. If we think about change in our lives, we’ve dealt with it regularly from moving schools to moving for a career opportunity. We are malleable creatures and can flex with our environments. It is how we have survived and gotten to the top of the food chain.
One way to tap into positive psychology is to leverage an individual’s strengths. Many leaders are aware of recent leadership philosophies shifting from working on weaknesses to maximizing strengths. Working with what we do best allows us to demonstrate our best work and feel good about it. This is the tie back to positivity. When we get to flex our strengths, our organizations are getting the best work from us. It is a win-win situation as all parties are satisfied. This does not mean you always get to work only in your areas of strength. Let’s be clear. Much of your time is spent on tasks that leverage your individual strengths. The cool thing is, we all have strengths of different varieties, so the possibilities are endless. Another benefit of focusing on strengths is increased employee engagement, according to Gallup, the organization that developed StrengthsFinder [now Clifton Strengths(R)]. Now, imagine working and leading in an organization that values this type of mentality, and you are guaranteed to increase creativity and collaboration across the whole of the organization.
Another aspect of positive change efforts is in the framing. The way we approach a change can have a negative or limiting impact on the effort. In other words, if you frame the change effort as a problem or something to fix, you are enabling the problem to be the focus of the change effort. But if you shift your thinking to something more expansive, then you enable the possibilities of what could be, and thereby look beyond the problem to opportunities. Another big reason change efforts fail is because employees feel that change is happening to them, so they resist. A more inclusive and enlightening viewpoint is involving all the various stakeholder groups, internally and externally, to help shape the future that will open up and inspire everyone to work together for a higher purpose. This might seem impossible or outrageous, but many organizations have used this framing to bring hundreds of stakeholders and employees together with great results. Their employees were excited and energized by what the future might hold for them. I don’t know about you, but this seems like a much more exciting way to lead people through change efforts.