iStock_000005419738hands-stacked1Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.

Noted author and leadership expert, John C. Maxwell, nailed it right on the head with this expression.  And nothing could be farther from the truth in today’s workplace.  Change is already happening whether executives and employees choose to acknowledge it or not.

Organizations embracing change due to the “new” economy born from the “Great Recession” will leave companies who choose to bury their heads in the sand in their wake. And just how are these innovative organizations handling the inevitable change? They are tapping a valuable resource – their ,  are engaging these employees to champion the change.

Employees work with customers and vendors on a daily basis. They are up close and personal with customer frustrations and they know which processes work and which don’t in their departments. They see things managers and leaders have forgotten about or won’t ever experience because they are so far removed from the front line.

Sadly, only a handful of organizations are truly successful at engaging their employees and creating a dynamic workplace. They welcome employee input, keep communication lines open, divulge the company mission so everyone is on the same page, and don’t tolerate incivility in the workplace.

Unfortunately, most organizations are guilty of blocking their own punts which mean ideas from employees never make to the goal line. After a while, disheartened employees don’t even try. So just what is the common denominator that keeps employees from engaging in organizational or corporate change?


Here’s why. People don’t forget negative past experiences.  An employee shut down by a harried or controlling manager doesn’t forget the experience.  So why would the employee open themselves to rejection or humiliation again?

Here are some of the most common reasons why good ideas never get from employee to manager:

Saving Face – Employees have great ideas. However, they also have their pride and will avoid risk and embarrassment at all costs. Most people won’t put themselves out on a limb and face the real possibility of looking inadequate or ridiculous to a manager. Putting an idea on the table also means the employee may be asked to explain it in depth or worse…make a presentation to higher ups. They fear not being able to answer difficult questions and then have the idea literally dismissed with a wave of the hand.

It’s just a waste of time anyway: The idea is good and the manager knows it. The idea gets presented through the proper channels and standard protocols. Meetings are held and the employee gets excited because real change in their position or department is being addressed head on.

And then….nothing. The employee never hears what happened to their idea. It literally disappears into thin air. This employee will likely never contribute an idea again.

No clue as to the organization’s mission: Organizations with no clear mission or business strategy silence their employees. If employees aren’t presented with the company’s goals or directives, they have little chance of contributing new ideas or initiatives to a manager.  Without a clear vision of where the company is going or how the company intends to get there, employees are clueless on how to help the organization grow… let alone succeed.

Idea and vision is tossed out: Any finallythe idea just didn’t pass muster. Not all ideas are necessarily the right choice for a company. However, as the saying goes….”you have to kiss a lot of toads, before you find your prince.”  The same goes for business and it is part of the process of change. Organizations have to sort through all ideas to come up with the great ones that lead to the desired changes they seek. Employees afraid of rejection seldom contribute.

Throwing ideas out there for review and consideration is the essence of innovation and change. Managers and leaders who successfully remove “fear” barriers for employees have a better chance of succeeding and thriving in the new norm.

Times – they are a changin’

But what if an organization listens to employees, initiates a strategic “change initiative” and several employees resist? After all, it is human nature to go with the status quo. Change is upsetting, it is the unknown, and often takes individuals out of their comfort zone in the initial stages.

bookcover1As I explain in the book and training program, Engagement, Retention & Growth, the rule of thumb is that people will conform to the behavior of the people around them because they want to BELONG. When this behavior involves winning with new rules, other people also try to win.

Here’s a metaphorical example to prove my point.  Studies show that bribing children who did not like peas with dessert didn’t work. Explaining why peas were good for them didn’t work. Demonstrating to a child how to eat peas didn’t work. What did work repeatedly, however, was putting a child who hated peas at the table with children who loved peas. Within a meal or two, the child who hated peas started eating peas with the other children.

Employees have great ideas and when the barriers of rejection are removed, creativity, innovation, and change strategies are allowed to surface in the workplace. When organizations utilize their frontline employees to be their “champions of change,” they reap the rewards of productivity and profitability.

For more information on how to get employees to champion change in the workplace, order a copy of Engagement, Retention & Growth with your workshop enrollment. I, along with 9 other thought leaders, explore 10 strategic solutions for sustainable corporate expansion and employee retention. You’ll get actionable advice from highly successful team development consultants, noted authors, HR strategists, marketers, retail and investment executives, and educators. We touch on topics such as incivility in the workplace, effective sales techniques, engaging employees in the workplace, team development strategies, innovative hiring methods, conducting productive meetings, and more.

Copyright TIGERS Success Series by Dianne Crampton

About TIGERS Success Series

TIGERS Success Series is a team development consultancy based on 6 core principles that anchor high performance team dynamics and collaboration at all levels of operation. These principles are trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk and success. TIGERS offers licensing and certification to team building trainers and consultants interested in expanding their practice to serve organizational leaders from the break room to the boardroom. .Learn more.