The Nonprofit Organizational Dilemma: How to Overcome the Resistance to Change
You may have heard the old joke that the only things that never change are taxes and death, but that is not true. If it were, you would never hear someone say, “that’s just the way we’ve always done it” and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Bringing about organizational change can be a difficult task. But we all know that change is a vital business strategy for every organization, especially during these challenging times. Overcoming your team’s resistance to change is not impossible, but it does require effort and knowledge to lead your organization through the transition.
As a former CEO, I know firsthand how bringing about organizational change can be challenging. As a nonprofit leadership and board performance coach, I have observed the difficulties that many organizations have experienced in dealing with the resistance to change.
The following are five tips implement leadership and organizational change:
- Identify what needs to change. While it may seem obvious, the first step is imperative to creating effective organizational change. Conducting a deep dive into the issues your organization is currently experiencing is a vital step in solving your problems and bringing positive change. Learning how your organization functions compared to national best practices is a great place to start.
- Develop a plan. This step is all about action. Developing a well-crafted, multi-stepped plan is a great way to stay organized and on top of your future goals. This plan should detail goals, performance indicators, plans for stakeholder involvement and employee response. This plan aims to prepare for any unexpected issues that could arise during your implementation process.
- Communicate effectively. Acknowledge the apprehension that people will feel resisting change. Following your plan's creation, you must determine the best way of delivering this change to your organization's members. Often, failure is the result of poor communication. Therefore, providing clear, concise and accurate communication is imperative for getting your organization on the same page.
- Seek employee feedback. Your employees are the foundation of your organization. Make sure you listen to their concerns and explain how they will benefit from the change. You must provide an opportunity to hear their feedback. By doing this, you show your employees that you value their opinions. And as a result, this fosters a positive organizational environment.
- Continue to review and revise your business plan. Once you complete your organizational change initiative, it is important to continue conducting analysis and listening for employee feedback when reviewing the changes and progress you have made. It is OK to modify and change direction when needed.
Dennis C. Miller, the founder and chairman of DCM Associates Inc., is a nationally recognized expert in nonprofit leadership executive search, and board and leadership performance coaching with more than 35 years of experience working with nonprofit board leadership and chief executives across the country.
Dennis is an expert in board governance, leadership development, philanthropy and succession planning. He is the author of five books, including "A Guide to Recruiting Your Next CEO: The Executive Search Handbook for Nonprofit Boards."