A large organization in the social domain dedicated to supporting people with disabilities or vulnerabilities, enabling them to fully participate in Dutch society, has developed a new strategy. The organization primarily works for councils and other stakeholders in the social domain.
This organization has charted a new course and an ambitious strategy based on three main pillars. Due to changes in funding (no more automatic subsidy streams), the organization needs to adopt a different way of working. It needs to be more proactive in its outreach and stress the need for sound business management internally. Consequently, the professionals working here must become more entrepreneurial: identifying and seizing opportunities to better serve their citizens. However, this is not necessarily a characteristic of professionals in this sector. Therefore, the organization’s question is: How do we help our professionals on board with this new way of thinking and working? And how do we embed it in their actual behavior?
Our approach aims to support the Management Team (MT) and informal leaders in three steps to bring their professionals along on this journey of change:
- Sharing and processing: In an interactive session, the MT shares the new strategy and its implications. Employees are given ample space to ask questions and actively work on understanding and processing the strategy. What does it mean to be ‘entrepreneurial’? How does it align with our core work? These discussions are driven by pride and expectations, including what does the MT expect from employees and what can employees expect from the MT?
- In regional meetings, teams work together with their leaders to translate the new strategy into concrete actions. These actions are then recorded in annual plans and personal development plans for each colleague (part of their performance cycle). Employees also reflect on the skills they need to contribute to the new direction.
- During a common knowledge day, employees get the opportunity to practice in workshops the skills they have identified as necessary to fulfill their changed roles. Topics include effective collaboration with colleagues and interacting with clients. These workshops are based on the concrete conversation techniques of Subconscious Impact.
We believe that people cannot be changed, but – if they wish to – they are capable of shaping their own transformation. Teams are now working on this in their daily operations based on the three steps outlined above.
Given the significant role of leadership in this process, we prepared each step with the MT and informal leaders, who were in the lead for all phases. This preparation was part of a compact change leadership program centered around consistency (alignment of words and actions and commitment management) and reflection.
The program consisted of:
- Design and practice sessions: prior to and in preparation for the three major employee events, there were at least 1 and often 2, sessions with the MT and informal leaders. These sessions aimed to clarify the narrative and approach, incorporate employee perspectives and practice elements of content and workshop methods.
- Formulating and verifying commitments: to move from abstract to concrete, the MT members translated the strategy into tangible behaviors for both employees and themselves. We continually tested with the MT, informal leaders and employees whether the new behaviors were noticeable.
- Consistency check: desk research, interviews and a 360-degree feedback tool, helped us gain insight into the MT’s alignment with the strategy’s ambitions and the formulated behaviors.
- MT peer reviews: we set up peer review sessions with the MT to exchange and further develop collaboration, leadership principles and the shared change vision.
- Individual coaching: we held a coaching session with each MT member based on the 360-degree feedback.