In the last two months, I’ve had the opportunity to fly on two very different airlines. Southwest Airlines is one of them. I fly Southwest often and appreciate the lighthearted behavior of the flight attendants. They are happy, helpful and clearly engaged in making the travel experience more enjoyable for their passengers. The other airline (I’ll call it Airline B) provided a 180-degree different experience. The attendants slammed down drinks and snacks on our tray tables. They were clearly unhappy and the last thing on their mind was providing an enjoyable travel experience. It made for a long, uncomfortable trip.

I did a little research. Southwest has a history of successful transformational change. It’s in their DNA. Airline B does not. Failed mergers. Failed cultural change. It’s no wonder.

Organizations that encourage a healthy culture are more apt to have successful transformational change because their employees are enrolled in the process. This means that leaders must:

  1. Take time to communicate with employees to understand their level of excitement and concern for the transformation.
  2. Use the results of these conversations to shape the implementation of the transformation. This could mean adjustments to speed, timing, sequencing, or even scope.
  3. Determine effective, meaningful ways to enroll employees to help drive the transformation.
  4. Enlist middle managers to identify new measures to monitor progress and hold the organization accountable for enforcing the transformation.

One enrollment strategy I’ve implemented for many of my clients is a Change Action Network (CAN). The basic features of a CAN are that it is made up of front-line employees representing the cross functional areas of the company – or at least those functions impacted by the transformation. A CAN might take on many different roles and features, depending on the nature of the transformation.

There are many ways you can enroll your employees in the transformation. Regardless, take one minute right now to assess your performance against the four criteria listed above. How are you doing with your transformation?

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

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