In 2024 I’m exploring how employees can lead change from the bottom up.  What does it take to drive success?

My first discussion on this topic was with  Mike Mair.  We concluded that if employees are truly engaged and connected then leading change bottom-up is possible.

The role of leaders and managers is critical to achieve real engagement and connection.  Using data gleaned from truly listening to understand and creating an environment of psychological safety are two important aspects of a leader’s role. Managers also need to do this at the team level ensuring that they are influential in communicating information up and across the organisation.

Use data as your mentor.

Data is critical. Ask the right questions, listen, and understand your employees’ perspectives. Use your employees as your strategic consultants. Expect managers to understand their teams needs and listen for ideas for business improvement.

Make sure you act on data that has been collected through surveys.  Demonstrate that you have listened to understand and like other tasks, this will need prioritization and appropriate resources need to be put in place so that communication of results and actions is implemented quickly.

Create an environment that enables engagement and connection.

Have clear, lived values.  There are many aspects in having a great culture and two important ones are:

1.     Create a psychologically safe environment where ideas from team members are encouraged and taken seriously.  This does not necessarily mean that all ideas will be implemented but a clear transparent process and good communication will enable strong engagement. One example of this was when everyone in an organization was expected to come up with ideas that they could implement by themselves without needing managers’ approval.  These ideas were shared, and a token reward provided for one idea every month.  This generated more cost savings than formal process improvement projects.
2.    Give managers autonomy to make decisions that will impact on engagement.  For example, allow employees to shape their work schedule to suit their needs. One manager shifted working hours to enable employees to attend the gym. This can make a big difference to employees’ commitment and engagement.

If employees feel psychologically safe, recognized, and treated fairly, then effective change can happen from the bottom up. Great ideas will emerge, and employees will be committed to the success of those ideas. Businesses will also benefit from having engaged and connected people, in tough times as they can help navigate through changes that need to be made.

Ending with Mike’s KPIs:

Keep People Involved
Keep People Interested
Keep People Informed
Keep People Inspired