In a time unlike any other that has occurred in our lifetimes, COVID-19 has brought about constant change and unknown. While organizations were familiar to change already, this period of time has brought into focus the need for transformations of companies and organizations. The DeBoer Fellowship recommends this TED Talk by Jim Hemerling, “5 ways to lead in an era of constant change” and has provided a summary of his points below.
While people may describe self-transformation with positive emotions like “empowering, energizing, exhilarating…” organizational transformation is often associated with negative emotional spaces. Organizations are constantly adapting yet people often view transformation of organizations as exhausting.
Why is transformation so exhausting?
Jim Hemerling explains that “change is hard and people naturally resist change, especially when it’s imposed on them.” Too often, leaders wait too long to act, leaving their organization and employees in crisis-mode which can be exhausting. Another mistake leaders make, because of the urgent circumstances, is focusing only on short-term results. This provides no hope for the future.
To create transformations that are empowering rather than exhausting, Jim Hemerling recommends companies and leaders focus on five key points. Each point focuses on putting people first.
- Inspire through purpose – Financial and operational goals may be motivating for executives but often are not inspiring for the majority of people throughout the organization. As the leader, connect the company’s transformation and change with a deeper sense of purpose. Connection to a deeper purpose is highly motivating for employees.
- Go all in – Too often, transformation of organizations is code language for lay-offs. While the company may need to downsize in order to reach its new focused goals, consider implementing initiatives that drive growth. Take the opportunity of change to fundamentally shift the way the company operates and invest in leadership talent along the way.
- Give people what they need to succeed. Various aspects of organizational transformation require different skills, techniques, and capabilities. Share tools and expand training to equip employees with the capacity to succeed during the transformations and beyond.
- Instill a culture of continuous learning – Organization transformations often require culture change. Jim Hemerling recommends a shift from fixed mindsets, “where your role is to show up as the smartest person in the room” to growth mindsets “where your role is to listen, learn, and bring out the best in people.”
- Demonstrate directive yet inclusive leadership – A leader needs “to have a vision, a clear roadmap” with key deliverables, “and to hold people accountable for results.” Yet, inclusive leadership is crucial to putting people first. Create an environment where feedback is encouraged, accepted, and considered important.
His parting words: “Transformation doesn’t have to be exhausting… [if] we put people first.”