B. Change Management Capacity

4. Formalizing Change

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An effective program requires lasting change. Making formal organizational changes that are clearly defined and influential can greatly encourage the success of a program, especially over the long run. Positive change of this nature is commonly made to everyday functions like decision-making, roles & responsibilities, training, reporting, rewards & incentives, and more.

Updating Objectives, Policies, & Procedures

Change can be effectively formalized by updating the objectives, policies and procedures defined to govern an organization and the individuals who contribute to it. Applying the following tactics will not only help ensure change is lasting, but it will also generate greater buy-in.

Revising Corporate Goals & Objectives

If sustainability is to become a core value, it is necessary to incorporate goals and objectives both internally and externally to recognize this commitment.

Developing Operating Guidelines and Policies

When appropriate, guidelines and policies should be written to describe new structures, processes, objectives, etc. that have impacted the way day-to-day tasks are executed. That may include the establishment of protocols that govern how various functions are executed, including procurement, waste disposal and IT management, for example.

Revising Reporting Requirements

Data relevant to the program and individual changes that are implemented should be diligently collected and reported. New metrics should be established that are indicative of program success and progress. The tracking of data and metrics should be embedded into the decision-making processes and internal reporting.  Those new metrics should also become formalized as part of broader organizational reporting.  For example, a carbon footprint could be included in the annual report or in a report to the Board of Directors.

Refreshing Job Descriptions & Performance Metrics

Any roles and responsibilities that have changed should be formally updated within job descriptions so there is no confusion or ambiguity around what is newly expected. Objectives related to sustainability that are impacted by an employee’s effectiveness should be included in how their performance is assessed and how they are rewarded. That particular process may be an excellent opportunity to engage human resources personnel and employees affected in general by having them help re-define their own job descriptions and performance review metrics; involving those impacted should also increase buy-in.

Planning & Providing Necessary Training & Support

Changes in job responsibilities can feel threatening to employees. For that reason, training must support the emotional transition as well as any gaps in intellectual or physical capabilities. The timing of the training is important: Too soon and it’s irrelevant; too late and it’s frustrating. The art and science of great training is not the focus of this framework, but it’s worth remembering three points of effective educational practices:

  • People learn best when fully engaged. They see the relevance of what they’re doing, are immersed in the process, and feel connected to the outcomes.
  • People are most receptive when they feel reasonably challenged, but supported and safe. If people feel unsafe, they focus on safety rather than absorbing new information.
  • The goal is not to merely cover information, but to ensure individuals feel capable of success. Great teachers learn to understand their students and use their questions and concerns as learning opportunities to refine their training methods. 

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