Five tips for making change healthy and effective

Becoming a healthy organization is both a journey and a destination.  Goals and action plans help, but what’s also needed is careful attention to how you go about change. Here are 5 tips for ensuring that the change process itself is a healthy experience for all involved and, equally important, that intended change goals are actually achieved.

1. Understand change readiness

A basic insight from the field of health promotion is the importance of a person’s readiness to make changes in their health-related attitudes and behaviours. Organizations also can be assessed for their readiness to change in a healthy direction. Develop a checklist of the basic features of the organization and assess each as a source of resistance, readiness, or momentum.

2. Align structure and culture

Organizational change initiatives often fail because structural change is given priority over cultural change.  So if you want your organization to get on or stay on a healthy change trajectory, changes in structures or operational processes must be balanced with the values and other elements of culture.

3. Link people initiatives to the business strategy

Many organizations have too many separate “people” policies and initiatives. If HR champions of these initiatives can’t see how all the strands tie together, line managers surely won’t. Needed is a strategy-focused approach to healthy change that makes it easy for all to see how actions to improve the work environment and employee wellbeing also contribute to business goals.

4. Widen the circle of involvement

Successful change requires collaboration.  Healthy change processes move organizations forward because they provide ever-expanding opportunities for others to become involved. While leadership from the top of the organization is a big plus, employees throughout the organization can become change agents, contributing to making their own work environments healthier.

5. Learn and innovate

Successful implementation of change requires time for ongoing reflection and learning. Furthermore, think of your healthy organization strategy as an innovation – it introduces something new, institutionalizes its use, and diffuses the healthy practices and their supporting values more widely.