Throughout the process of organization transformation, leaders often reach points where they must decide when (or whether) to step in and take action, versus sitting back and allowing a situation to play itself out. There are times when the wisest course of action is inaction. However, in many cases inaction can prove to be a costly choice. Failure to act can result in lost time, lost credibility, lost profits, and the disengagement of key people needed to support the change for which the organization is looking.
How Inaction Frustrates Change
One area where the risk of inaction becomes great is when organizational transformation strategies require follow up from others in the organization. For example, following an organization redesign session, team members will always have questions about what happens next, how the restructure will affect the organization, and how quickly things will need to happen. A leader who does not anticipate these inevitable questions with a project plan and well-thought-out responses risks losing the confidence of the team. In this case, inaction undermines credibility. Instead of getting behind the plan, team members who should be excited about the organization’s new direction are left wondering if they can trust that it will be handled effectively.
Leaders also sometimes fall into inaction when they fail to seek needed help and guidance. One client of ours spent three years attempting to undertake a significant organization transformation in house. It was only through interacting with us on a different front that they finally came to the conclusion that engaging our help would lead to more timely and successful results—which is proving to be the case. Essentially, the pain of performing surgery on themselves finally culminated in their seeking help to get things started again.
3 Habits Successful Organization Transformation Leaders Use to Maintain Momentum
Here are three approaches leaders can take to avoid falling into damaging patterns of inaction:
- Think ahead. It’s easy to get so caught up in the immediate activity involved in any given step of organization transformation as to lose sight of next steps. Leaders who make a habit of proactively anticipating what should be done next position themselves well to guide the organization forward with minimal disruption. For example, coming out of an intense work session people will naturally wonder what’s next and who’s responsible for what. Proactively anticipating the questions people will ask and preparing robust answers in response prepares a leader to effectively lead the change without falling behind or losing momentum.
- Conduct an honest assessment of your internal capabilities and strengths. When you look at the work to be done, ask yourself: “Have we been there, have we done this, do we have what it takes to lead ourselves thru this process?” If the answer is no, consider what sort of guidance might be needed to move the organization forward in the right direction.
- Allot sufficient time and resources. Sometimes inaction happens because the work falls on the shoulders of a critical few. Such people are often capable and know what needs to be done, but are simply too overloaded with work priorities to follow through effectively on everything. Time plays a critical role in this scenario. It takes far more time to implement a plan than it does to create it. It is easy to overlook critical steps that need to happen before things can move forward. For instance, a leader may find himself worrying about finding a conference room during time that would be better spent planning for the work session that will take place in it, or underestimating the time it takes to document that session afterwards.
Before taking action, dedicate sufficient time to allow oneself to effectively anticipate what should be done next. And once it’s time to take action, consider how best to delegate the work to avoid bottlenecks and delays.
What do you do in your organization to ensure that inaction doesn’t undermine your plans?