Publicly Listed Companies

Three steps to embracing organizational change

Whether you’re looking to seize a new business opportunity or invest in a new technology, one thing is certain: if you’re going to succeed, your organization must be prepared to deal with change.

According to attendees of our public company CEO and CFO roundtable, getting management, board members and employees to embrace change isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. The key is to create an organization that’s agile, innovative and responsive—and that starts with a strong organizational culture. 

For a public company to thrive in today’s business landscape, you need to establish a culture that prioritizes a change-positive mindset, welcomes differing opinions and encourages out-of-the-box thinking. This can be done in three ways

1. Set a strong tone from the top

In many public companies, the CEO is typically seen as the visionary, while the CFO often tries to reel back any perceived risk-taking behaviour. To create a change-centric culture, senior management must work together to determine how the organization intends to approach change and effectively respond to it.

In this context, the CEO may be responsible for establishing a clear vision of how the organization will change in the months and years ahead, ensuring that vision is conveyed to the organization’s people and explaining the “burning platform” that makes change necessary. The CFO, meanwhile, must not only acknowledge that change—and, in turn, risk—are necessary to move the organization forward, but also ensure the organization is focused on the right types of change.

2. Prioritize diversity

It’s human nature to want to hire like-minded people—individuals who share your views, work ethic and thought processes. This drive may also cause you to unintentionally hire people who look like you, which can be detrimental to an organization aiming to embrace change.

According to our roundtable participants, while hiring similar people may seem like a fine idea, the truth is that it can turn your organization into an echo-chamber—a place where  new ideas aren’t ever introduced or implemented and external viewpoints are not sought. Understanding this, change-positive organizations aim to hire individuals that fall outside of their usual template. Set your sights on the best person for each position—but a person who can also bring a unique voice to the table.

3. Foster innovation

While a strong tone from the top and a diverse workforce are two important steps forward, it’s equally important to revisit your organizational structure and make sure you have the proper measures in place to foster innovation.

To truly edge out the competition, you need to think differently—and, in that vein, innovation needs to be deliberately integrated into your culture. This can involve offering employees one day a month to work on a passion project or re-envisioning your office set-up, so people have space and time to complete projects, share ideas and collaborate. The key is to learn more about how your people work best, find ways to give them the environment they need to let their imaginations run wild and let them know you believe failure is simply a stepping stone to ultimate success.

While change is never easy, creating a change-friendly culture isn’t nearly as difficult as it may first seem. When given the right tools and environment, people can learn to embrace change—making your company stronger as a result.

To learn more about how Grant Thornton can help your organization become more agile, contact us.