Organizational change is almost always difficult, and if you’re trying to encourage it from a non-leadership or non-management position, it can be even more challenging. However, there are strategies that can help you be successful in persuading others to adopt change.
PCC CLIMB offers a variety of classes in leadership skills, relationship management and networking that can help you be more effective when working with others to advance your ideas. In this post, we’ll take a look at three specific ways you can drive organizational change, even if you’re in a non-management role.
- Present a strong case. The greatest idea in the world won’t be compelling or persuasive unless it is clearly presented, with solid evidence and a coherent argument. First and foremost, it’s critical that you have your facts straight. Basing your proposal on incorrect information or data can quickly derail your efforts. Consult with key stakeholders and talk with a coworker or manager about your idea. If you’re presenting it to a group, be sure to do a test run with any technology you plan to use and read your presentation out loud, preferably in front of a trusted friend or colleague to get feedback on points to emphasize or areas for improvement. Remember that an important part of sharing your idea is to encourage others to talk by asking questions and listening actively.
- Build relationships. In order to create change, you must establish buy-in with others in your organization, so be prepared to put those people skills to work. When discussing your ideas with colleagues and those in leadership positions, it’s vital that you listen closely to their views and understand their perspective so you can formulate a relevant response. It’s well worth your time to develop this skill. Be mindful of your body language when talking with people. Face people directly, make eye contact, and assume an open posture—arms and legs uncrossed, hands resting easy on the table. Finally, keep your emotions in check. Showing signs of anger or frustration can diminish your efforts to build relationships.
- Understand the reasons for hesitation. Be prepared to listen to different viewpoints. It’s essential that people feel that they are being heard and understood. In addition, ensure that you understand who will be affected by the change you propose—and in what ways. In other words, look at the issue from all angles, not just your own. Keep in mind that language can sometimes fail us. You may think you are communicating clearly, but that doesn’t mean everyone will understand what you’re saying, so it’s best not to make assumptions. Invite questions and engagement to help ensure that everyone is clear on the issue, as well as your proposal.
It is possible to drive organizational change from a non-leadership position, and the skills you draw on to do that effectively will serve you well throughout your career. Portland Community College’s CLIMB Center for Advancement offers a variety of courses on leadership to arm you with strategies to be successful as you seek to drive change in your organization.