Review a Recruiter

According to Harvard Business Review, 70 percent of change management initiatives fail. 

Although that’s a brutal fact, it shouldn’t be surprising. People generally don’t like change. We’re creatures of habit, and recruiters are no exception. That means that organizations who succeed at change are going to be the exception, not the rule.

So how do you make change stick in your agency? That’s what our CXO Adam Conrad discussed with Amy Yachowski (“Amy Yack” to her friends and colleagues), founder of Painted Porch Strategies. 

During the conversation, she laid out practical tips for implementing organizational change that actually sticks. Here are some key insights from that conversation. 

Painted Porch Strategies: an organization born from change

Amy got into staffing in 2004 when she joined a nurse-run healthcare staffing agency in New Orleans. Her husband, now Painted Porch’s master of communication, was working a radio job in New Orleans. The staffing agency required her to start her shift at 3:00 in the morning, which matched perfectly with her husband’s radio hours. 

Over the coming years, Amy went from being a recruiter to a project manager, software training, and eventually started her own firm in Painted Porch Strategies. The one constant across those roles and organizations: change.

“You have to continually make pivots to what you thought was the perfect schedule or placement,” she said. 

Yet the numbers surrounding successful change are hardly encouraging. As we mentioned above, 70% of change initiatives fail—something that Amy quickly discovered for herself. “People agree that change needs to happen and the sense of urgency is there. But they’re not prepared to make that change happen.” 

She founded Painted Porch Strategies to work at addressing these challenges. The organization works with their clients to address the following questions:

  • How do employees think and feel about change?
  • How do they effectively communicate and challenge ideas with each other?
  • How do they deliver a compelling message?
  • How do they work together to make hard decisions, challenge each other, and have healthy conflict to move forward? 

Organizations fail at change because they take old ideas and try to squeeze them into a new system. Painted Porch strives to change the ideas, to drive the spirit of change within organizations. 

How can organizations make changes stick?

So what are some of the key ingredients that Painted Porch has seen in organizations that are successful with change? Here are a few that Amy discovered through her work with Painted Porch.

1. Put employee wellbeing front and center

Change preparation starts with how your employees approach their day: their mindset, health, and wellbeing. While time management and productivity are important, they don’t work unless employees are prepared to engage at work. 

“We read it every day in the headlines,” said Amy. “Employee wellbeing is a really big deal.” The COVID-19 pandemic certainly didn’t help the situation, opening a floodgate of stressors and contributing to overwhelm. The key to effective change is to build emotional intelligence, resiliency, and awareness around the team. 

“When people hear the word ‘change’, they need to start asking: ‘What do I think about that? How is this making me feel right now?’” Only after building internal awareness can your employees start becoming comfortable with and embracing change, which enables everyone to move forward.  

2. Start conversations, don’t issue directives

Top-down directives rarely result in lasting changes. You can tell your employees what to do all day long, but if you don’t get their buy-in, they’re not going to be motivated to do it.

So instead of issuing directives, start conversations. Try to instill curiosity around problems and areas for improvement, and get them to take ownership of finding a solution and implementing those changes. 

“By making it a conversation and getting their curiosity stoked, their growth mindset & change triggers firing,” said Amy, “They’re gonna be much more invested in the change because they were a part of it. They were part of that initial conversation. They helped solve the problem. They helped move it forward. They helped you level up.”

3. Encourage healthy conflict

There’s a common misconception about conflict; namely, that it’s bad. 

But conflict is a good thing. When done right, it can create amazing, innovative ideas and solutions. It just requires a little more work. 

“You have to have the intention and attention in creating extraordinary teams at your organization—and in all areas of your life, honestly—for these tools to work. But the reality is that we are who we are. We don’t have two versions of ourselves. So creating teams that are healthy, trusting, and can give each other transparent feedback is key.” 

These types of teams find a balance in each other’s skills and weaknesses, enabling them to learn and grow together.

4. Treat change like a mindset, not a project

One of the big takeaways from the conversation with Amy was this: Change is not a project to be managed. It’s a mindset

“Not to disparage change management. It’s a vital and critical part of what’s necessary to make change stick, but it’s just not enough.” She continued, “Change management is, by definition, managing a thing, a tool, a project. But what needs to happen in order to make change stick is a mindset.” 

Creating a change mindset starts with giving people the trust and safety to spot opportunities where change is possible, and then take the initiative to make those changes where possible. 

People with a change mindset ask themselves the following questions:

  • Can I do this better, or in a different way?
  • Is there another approach that will get us quicker, faster, stronger?
  • What can I do to make myself and the organization grow?

Final Thoughts

Given that 70 percent of change initiatives fail, how do you make sure you end up in the 30 percent? The key, according to Amy, is to simply start. “Are all of your change woes going to be fixed in a day? No, but there are small things you can do.” 

She reiterated that change starts and ends with people. “Usually when we approach change, we look at the process, systems, or tools, but we forget about people. We think the people will just come along with us. And while you might have loyal soldiers that do, they will still struggle to make that change happen.”

The solution? Invest in your people, and you’ll be amazed at what you can create. 

One of the best ways you can invest in your people is by collecting real-time feedback, using it both as a morale-building tool and as a way to spot coaching opportunities. Learn more about how Great Recruiters helps you do just that.