Friday, October 24, 2014

Organizational Change with Transparency and Inclusion

The deputy CIO heard about my session on removing blame and requested that I facilitate the session with the management team. During the session I had the management team surface blame that existed in the organization. The responses were grouped and through dot voting we prioritized what should be focused on. They then got into small groups and worked on perfecting an idea for change on the highest-ranked topics. The session was well received. The group wanted more time to create action plans to implement the ideas, but we ran out of scheduled time and the deputy CIO wanted to share the results of the employee satisfaction survey.

The survey results showed that scores for one area was very high and another very low, most enjoyed their teams but management was failing at communication and many would leave for just a little more compensation. The next steps were for managers to share the results with their staff and find out more so action plans for improvement could be made. I subsequently asked how would this be done to foster safety? The deputy CIO then requested I partner with her to do this.

My recommendation was for me to facilitate workshops since I was not a part of leadership for each survey group. The workshops would exclude anyone who has a direct report but we would have a separate session for managers. The workshop would be designed to share what we learned from the surveys, get insight on what concerned employees, and identify what change employees wanted to see.

I advised the deputy CIO to open the workshops so employees understood that this initiative was supported from the top and that they were intimately involved and invested in this learning exercise to help bring about positive change that is of value to employees.

The deputy CIO summarized for each group what was learned including the positives and the concerns of employees; informed the groups the purpose of being there; and outlined the session goals and next steps.

I was introduced as the facilitator and the deputy CIO departed. I armed them each with a pad of sticky notes and a marker and let the group know that I would ask them "powerful questions" aimed to gather insights into where they are unsatisfied and what keeps them happy. They were asked:

  • What does better communication look like? Describe how that would look.
  • What do you need from your manager in order to feel supported?
  • What keeps you here?
  • What makes you want to leave?

I had the group "silently brainstorm" by writing one thought per sticky note and then collectively group the like thoughts for each question, name the group, and share the patterns.

Lastly I inquired "What would make things immediately better for you?" and  had them perform the same exercise. They got into self organizing groups for each improvement category then created a proposal for change which each group submitted before departing. It was also reiterated that their proposals for change will be reviewed for common themes among all workshops with leadership and we would let them know which ones were chosen in about a month.

After each workshop I immediately recorded the feedback for each question with the category the groups placed them in, as well as, the proposals for immediate change. The sticky notes were all shredded and recycled for anonymity.

I reviewed the individual feedback for each question and the proposals from each small group for each session with the deputy CIO. Upon this review and with the knowledge that each group desired more inclusion, it was decided to share all actionable proposals with participants from all workshops and to have them collectively vote on if a proposal should be implemented. Like proposals were then grouped with a small team that had the delegated authority to determine if a proposal was actionable. The proposals that were not actionable were set aside. Duplicate/similar proposals were combined.

I used the site Tricider to post each proposal as options to adopt. Votes were allowed to be cast with their real name or a pseudonym. Participants could vote for as many as they desired, post arguments for or against each proposal, and add additional proposals. Some proposals that were not actionable reappeared but we left them up there and the employees debated them by adding arguments. In the end there was a clear top four proposals which we would not disenfranchise voters by choosing something else but wanted to continue our quest for transparency and purposeful change by inclusion.

At the management forum I summarized what has been done and identified the top proposals which covered roles, salary, training, and communication. I then had them self-organize into committees to develop action plans for each proposal which everyone wanted to make sure employees were involved in its development. Subsequently, the deputy CIO communicated to all staff that action plans would be developed for the top four voted proposals and committees have been established for each of them which they could join if interested.

Up next is to communicate early and often as the action plans progress, as well as, to do all we can to make sure employees are involved in the development and execution of them.

The beginnings of a cultural shift has occurred in these five weeks. Management has become aware of the value of including employees in decisions which will increase transparency, alignment, trust, and communication. Employees are sharing that this process felt safe, has been therapeutic, and how they felt they have a voice. I believe most would characterize this as positive change thus far and it will be exciting to see if the culture of collaboration by partnering with management is adopted.

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