Truth Is Just Perception

The Three Key Principles Of Corporate Transformation

Their efficiency depends on their complementarity.

In the implementation of corporate transformations projects, leaders must accept a degree of compromise to achieve the objective while not compromising on the objective itself. To ensure maximum buy-in, they must define said objective as collegially as possible with their management team.

Employees, who are confronted on a daily basis with the stakeholders and operational issues of their company, are often best positioned to suggest improvements if managers take the trouble and time to ask them: Ideas are not hierarchical – they come from all levels.

Indeed, beyond its strategic, operational and financial dimensions, a corporate transformation is first and foremost a human endeavor. The strategy may be relevant, the operational infrastructure adapted, and the financial outcome promising. If the employees of the concerned company don’t take ownership of the transformation project and don’t mobilize in order to carry it out, it remains a wish outlined in a PowerPoint presentation.

(CC) Robert Couse-Baker

(CC) Robert Couse-Baker

To avoid that trap, managers who want to achieve a business transformation, whatever its size (global corporation, SME or team) and nature (growth, pivot or turnaround project), should implement three principles. They should:

  • Listen: Managers who listen to their employees show respect to them as they ask them to change their working methods and understand why they are accustomed to the latter.
  • Educate: The education of employees should address the purpose and logic of the transformation project as well as the new organizations, processes, tools and behaviors required to make it a success.
  • Challenge: It is essential for managers to question operational routines and interpersonal rules.

A decisive aspect of those three principles is their complementarity. Leaders can best listen to and educate their teams when they challenge them. Conversely, their challenge is best accepted by their employees when they listen to and educate them.

Leaders who only listen and educate don’t go far from their employees’ comfort zone because they don’t challenge them enough. Conversely, managers who only challenge their teams go far from their comfort zone but find themselves alone in this terra incognita where none of their employees has followed them.

Ultimately, the implementation of those three principles makes it possible to equally reassure and destabilize the employees on whom the success of the transformation depends. Listening reassures and challenge destabilizes. As for education, it both reassures (when it teaches the purpose and logic of the transformation) and destabilizes (when it teaches new ways of working).

Last but not least, leaders must understand that “wasting” time to listen to and educate their employees at the beginning of a corporate transformation will allow to save time over the duration of the project.

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