When an executive wants organizational change, things just seem to happen. Plans come together, everything is well-funded, and staff priorities are reset.
What do you do, however, when you want to create organization change and you don’t have executive support?
There’s only one way: you can’t.
Well, that’s not entirely true. You can initiate organizational change without support from above, but eventually the change effort will be shot down. You will need money, and someone will say no. You will need resources, and someone will say no. Or if the effort is not shot down directly, it will be allowed to limp along until it dies of its own accord. Without support, your change effort will be like an impala on the African savannah, taken by the hunter’s gun or a lion’s jaw.
So again we ask, what can you do if you don’t have support? You have to get it. Here are three ways to do just that.
1. Find some support for organizational change.
Ideally you would propose an idea to a decision-maker, who would then help you to make your organizational change plan a reality. If you cannot reach a decision-maker directly or do not hold enough sway to change her mind, find an advocate who has enough power in the organization to talk in your favor. A few words to a decision-maker from a trusted advisor can have a powerful impact. You need someone to sing the praises of your project when you are not around.
2. Start a campaign for organizational change.
This tactic is popular for grassroots change. You want your ideas to go viral-the more people who know about your goal, the more potential you have for assistance. Find ways to slip the proposed change into conversations. Make sure people understand what you are really trying to accomplish, instead of allowing them to brew misconceptions. Remember that most people only care about what impacts them, so talk about your organizational change in specific terms and how the person you are talking with will benefit.
3. Choose your battles for organizational change.
The final truth about organizational change is that we all have to make decisions based on our priorities. Sometimes it is better to advocate an important change and let a lesser change slip through the cracks than to lose the battle on both fronts. Choose your battles based on what is meaningful to you and to the other people involved. You can always return for round two when you have won round one.
Use these three tips to gain executive support for your organizational change idea. With a little ingenuity and networking, you will have improved your organization in no time.