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Excelerate Consulting | Change Management Experts

Change Leaders: Motivating Others Amidst Organizational Change

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Motivating Others Amidst Organizational Change

In addition to being valuable for companies’ growth, change is inevitable and moving at a more rapid pace than ever before. Data shows that more than 90% of CEOs believe that their organizations “will change more in the next five years than they did in the last five.”

Since resistance is the main reason change initiatives fail, it’s essential to get employees on board and motivate them to engage with organizational change. However, this is a major challenge for change leaders and can affect the outcome of the change initiative, making motivating others amidst organizational change essential for leaders.

Motivating Others Amidst Organizational Change: Strategies 

In addition to using financial incentives like bonuses and increased pay, change leaders should utilize other motivators to boost employee engagement. This is because in some cases, financial incentives work in the short term but fail to result in sustainable change unless backed by intrinsic motivation.

A global survey by McKinsey highlights the importance of non-financial motivators, with results showing that these are more effective than the highest-rated financial incentives. They include praise from managers, attention from leaders, and chances to lead projects.

Additionally, theories such as the Theory of Motivating Change posit that combining extrinsic and intrinsic motivators is essential for enacting sustained change. Thus, it is up to organizations to combine the optimal psychological, social, and structural conditions to create long-lasting change.

Therefore, motivating others amidst organizational change should include both financial and non-financial motivators and combine extrinsic and intrinsic motivations. The following are some ways organizations and change leaders can motivate employees to embrace change initiatives. 

1. Praise, Commendations, and Other Incentives

According to a survey by McKinsey, 13% of respondents said that praise from managers was less often than before. Praise serves as reinforcement and rewarding initial steps and ideas breed innovation.

By making praise and reinforcement an important part of their change management strategy, leaders motivate employees and make it known that change is positive and should be the norm instead of the exception. Awards and accreditations also fuel healthy competition when this motivation aligns with intrinsic motivation.

That being said, the use of awards and other recognition should be strategic to ensure this aligns with intrinsic motivation rather than allowing employees to only show improvement when it’s time for assessment.

By framing change as something that benefits stakeholders rather than focusing on loss, organizations can prevent loss aversion, i.e., the bias in which loss is twice as painful as the pleasure of an equivalent gain. Instead of focusing on what employees will lose, organizations should focus on the loss that takes place if the change is not embraced as well as highlighting the benefits of change being accepted.

Negotiating is also a useful incentive since it rewards positive behavior that facilities the change and reduces resistance.

2. Tell Employees Success Stories and Provide Evidence 

Success stories reassure employees and provide examples of what change can look like. Additionally, success stories create “psychological safety” and showcase the change in a positive light.

They also provide evidence and can change minds. In addition to showing that change is needed, organizations must showcase the evidence that change works. This motivates individuals and reinforces change. 

Unbiased facts justify the need for change and educate stakeholders as to their importance. However, it’s important to note that this evidence will differ from stakeholder to stakeholder.

Change leaders must ensure that evidence is suited to different groups and present evidence in a way that engages different stakeholders. While some may prefer a more rational and fact-based approach, others may prefer passionate arguments that appeal to emotions.

3. Offer Opportunities to Lead Projects

Despite being one of the highest-rated non-financial motivators, this is not always prioritized. According to McKinsey, 20% of their survey respondents claimed that there were fewer opportunities to lead projects.

However, in addition to being effective, this is advantageous for both employees and the organization. Employees feel that they’re contributing and are valued while the company benefits from their improved leadership abilities and engagement. 

4. Ensure Employee Commitment

Employees’ commitment to the organization plays an important role in their motivation to change. Their commitment encourages them to make an effort and accept the required change.

Organizations must fulfill their side of the psychological contract created in order to ensure employee commitment. This may include adequate remuneration, autonomy, fairness, job security, opportunities to learn, and more. If this psychological contract is not upheld, employees are less motivated to accept changes.

5. Prioritize One-On-One Meetings and Engagement 

While larger meetings may make sense since they save time, they are not very motivational. One-on-one meetings, while requiring more time and commitment, make employees feel more valuable.

Involving stakeholders in the process is also motivational since it can excite them and make them feel like a part of the change. Instead of feeling like victims losing control, stakeholders are motivated to be part of the change they are helping establish.

6. Create Healthy Competition 

Creating healthy competition combines intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and encourages employees and other stakeholders to perform their best. However, it’s essential to ensure that this is healthy competition. If this isn’t the case, it can result in individuals competing for resources instead of working to better the organization.

7. Value Feedback

Not all employees and stakeholders will accept the change, and some may resist it. However, it’s important for change leaders to realize that not all resistance is negative. Constructive criticism and feedback can be invaluable and can even result in noteworthy amendments to the original vision. This leads to designing and implementing more sustainable change initiatives.

Creating dialogue and giving employees a chance to voice their opinions is an integral part of valuing feedback. These conversations can inspire your employees and help them accept the change.

In addition to knowing what kind of resistance to expect and needs to address, this allows others to act instead of simply reacting to organizational change. It also helps individuals adjust to the psychological process of accepting organizational change.

Facilitating and supporting employees through change motivates them, and includes open dialogue, training, providing emotional support, and giving them some time off after a particularly demanding period.

8. Establish Trust

Stakeholder resistance may also result from misunderstandings, making it important to establish trust. Low trust can result in conflict and resistance, and threaten the success of the change initiative. Research has linked motivation, communication, and acceptance of decisions to trust, making this an imperative part of getting stakeholders on board.

Summary and Conclusion

While some companies are embracing non-financial motivators to inspire their employees, many are still of the mindset that financial incentives like bonuses are the most effective form of motivation.

In addition to this, many opt out of non-financial motivators because they require more time than their financial counterparts. However, companies must recognize the importance of a range of motivators and use both types to encourage their employees and sustain change in the long run.

Successful organizations depend on their employees to embrace change, and one way to do this is via motivation. Great leadership, combined with effective motivational techniques can ensure that change is successful, and organizations not only survive but thrive amid organizational change.