To most humans, the change proposition leads to a potential social standing loss. The question of why humans will accept deteriorated conditions over the possibility of improvement has finally been answered. Even though a future unknown condition is labeled a possible improvement, many humans will still consider it a risk they don’t want to take if it might lower their social standing within the group.

This is why a change in any organization can be met with resistance regardless of the dialogue, which might include statements like “but we’ve always done it that way,” “I don’t think that’s going work,” or “that’s not my job” or famously “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” This is the language of the status quo and the language of fear.

The underlying motivating fear is always a loss of social standing. Therefore, one of the most advanced methods for producing a change in an organization is getting the entire work culture used to participate in a continuous improvement paradigm. Participation breeds ownership, and ownership generates passion. Once ownership passion is in place in any work culture, leader managers can rely on a very deep bench of advocates ready to help institute change.

Getting Your Group Ready for Change

Here are five initiatives that are typical organizational activities that have created a work culture that includes a continuous improvement process. Continuous improvement has been achieved. Change becomes readily accepted by group members.

1 – Collaborative Abilities are now on Equal Standing to Technical Abilities.

2 – Protect and Promote the Culture

3 – Create a Recognition Program that Focuses on the Types of Behaviors that Senior Management would like repeated.

4 – Teach Your Work Culture How to Institute Change by Using Their Ideas for Improvement

5 – Create and Implement a Problem-Solving Training Program and Turn Your Group into Problem-Solving Experts.

Once the continuous improvement process is integrated into the work culture, resistance to new initiatives drops precipitously.

1 – Collaborative Abilities are now on Equal Standing to Technical Abilities.

· High levels of collaboration increase everyone’s social standing, making change efforts much more accessible.

This fact will be reflected throughout the organization when collaborative abilities are second billing to technical skills.

How it’s done:

· Hiring decisions should include assessing the individual’s ability to collaborate. An ability to collaborate should be an intrinsic component of every hiring decision.

· Performance expectations for every level of the organization should include a requirement that “getting along with their fellow employees” is now part of everyone’s job requirement and a condition of employment.

· Department heads, division chiefs, and directors need to make sure task requests from other departments are equally prioritized with the tasks generated internally from within the Department. Leader-managers need to be bridge builders between departments. 

2 – Protect and Promote the Culture –

A psychologically safe culture increases social standing, making change efforts more accessible.

There are some immediate benefits when those who demonstrate destructive behavior, such as bullying behaviors, are effectively addressed: lowering fear in the workplace and promoting a psychologically safe work environment.

How it’s done:

· Some organizations demonstrate the capacity to retain individuals who demonstrate destructive workplace behavior. The individual involved can be perceived to possess such great technical value that their technical skills are seen to be compensatory to the individual’s otherwise poor behavior in the work culture

· A psychologically unsafe work environment never promotes high-performance outcomes for the group, and high-performance outcomes are precisely what we need to prioritize if we want an organization ready for change. 

· When developing performance expectations for every level of the organization, performance expectations should include a requirement that people can avoid destructive behavior.

· Develop a training program that regularly reviews and supports the performance expectations to protect and promote the work culture.

3 – Create a Recognition Program that Focuses on the Types of Behaviors that Senior Management would like repeated.

· Positive recognition of group members who are demonstrating collaborative behaviors will cause those behaviors to be repeated by that person and others in the group, making change efforts much easier

There is indisputable evidence that when a person is recognized for a particular behavior, that individual and the individuals around that individual will repeat that same behavior.

How it’s done:

· Everyone within the organization demonstrating good performance should be regularly recognized for that performance. The frequency of recognition can vary but should include an official recognition at least once every two or three months at a minimum.

· This official recognition should include A) a personal dialogue between the supervisor and the individual recognizing their positive performance, B) a very short email to the supervisor’s supervisor recognizing the performance, C) a cut and paste copy of the email (not a CC) to the individual and finally D) all of these observations need to be included in the individual’s formal performance evaluation. Don’t skip steps.

Did someone:

Ø Go beyond the call of duty?

Ø become the best at a routine duty?

Ø Do a great job at responding to an emergency.

Ø Do a great job at responding to a customer complaint?

Ø Take on additional responsibilities?

Ø Volunteer at anything?

Ø solve a problem?

Ø help during a stressful situation?

Ø come up with a great idea for improvement?

Ø come up with an excellent idea for increasing productivity?

The examples are nearly endless, and this list gives you a good starting point.

Contrary to some criticism, this is not a participation prize nor childlike coddling of adults; instead, it’s a scientific approach that encourages episodes of individual and group “good performance” to be repeated, significantly promoting mission success.

4 – Teach Your Work Culture How to Institute Change by Using Their Ideas for Improvement

· By using their ideas for creating change, it opens the gateway for all ideas that create change to be more easily implemented, making change effort much easier.

You want every brain in the game. Once people catch on to this game, it is equivalent to a treasure hunt. Creating new ideas becomes a passionate practice and will be adopted by many group members. Eventually, continuous improvement becomes organic. 

Every leader-manager, starting with the working foreman and first-line supervisors up through middle-management and senior management staff, must communicate and promote this process.

How it’s done:

· At various meetings, especially meetings explicitly called for this purpose, start to promote this process publicly.

· Let people know that if they have an idea that they think can:

1. improve productivity

2. improve problem-solving

3. improve safety

4. improve training programs

5. reduce effort or save time when performing any task

6. save money

7. saves energy

 Any improvement in working conditions that supports these seven initiatives is now our top priority, and to communicate that you want to hear about it.

Educate the staff that not every idea that seems to be a good idea for improvement will be implemented. And that senior management will be looking at ideas that have:

o lower risk combined with

o lower implementation costs and, at the same time, in combination with

o those ideas that give the group the most significant return on investment.

Most people will understand the importance of these three criteria if they are well-trained with repeated training sessions on these three criteria.

When the team members start talking, every leader-manager needs to listen and start recording the ideas submitted.

· Every leader-manager needs to have a good-idea-for-improvement logbook handy.

· Every leader-manager should have a running list of all the ideas they have implemented, all the ideas they have received, and all the ideas they are actively evaluating for implementation.

5 – Create and Implement a Problem-Solving Training Program and Turn Your Group into Problem-Solving Experts.

 By turning every group member into a highly effective human problem-solving machine, overall group intelligence increases, making change efforts much more accessible.

Problem-solving requires a higher cognitive function beyond how we typically measure intelligence. Many people automatically think that they are good problem solvers when in fact, they’re not. In a highly collaborative group, the training to recognize problems and act on those problems with a systematic problem-solving process is what people are required to do.

 Once every group member starts improving at recognizing and solving problems incrementally, the average problem half-life drops.

Once problem-solving becomes a team sport, things change for the better, and opportunities to create a group that invites change climb significantly.

How it’s done:

· Create Problem-Solving Experts – Hold training sessions on how to recognize problems and train your group how to use a step-by-step problem-solving process and require its use. There are numerous sources for finding a step-by-step problem-solving process that you can use in your training program.

· Leader-Managers Must Routinely Inquire. Concerning Problems – Hold training sessions that invite your crew to always communicate with you about any problems, including roadblocks they encounter during their workday. Because many high performers pride themselves on demonstrating can-do high performance, this can work against the desired outcome. As a result, it’s not unusual; if a roadblock remains long enough or a problem remains unsolved long enough, they will intuitively start working around and around unsolved issues.

In high-performing groups, there can be many more than the five that are listed here. However, this is enough to get any group in the right direction in an agency that wants to institute change, including effective energy management. These five activities will synergize with each other when implemented simultaneously. Some organizations take more time than others. 

Training and Performance Expectations

Particular attention should be given to the design of your training programs that supports these five initiatives. The training must be delivered with the intensity and rapidity necessary to convey the information regularly.

Lastly, every position in the group needs to have its job description and performance expectations modified to reflect the importance of these five initiatives. The performance evaluation system should regularly revisit these expectations to evaluate individual performance related to the five initiatives.

Without an effective training program and without using these performance expectations as a condition of employment, these initiatives will either falter over time or fail altogether.

Creating a work culture ready for change is imperative if your organization will survive in an ever-changing world, and that’s precisely where we find ourselves right now.