I’ve been a trustee of a small charity for 11 years. Our one employee retired 18 months ago after 20 years in the role. We’ve just appointed a replacement on a part-time basis – to reduce costs and encourage our beneficiaries to use their talents to serve the organisation. Change is on its way, and this is how we’ll navigate it.
Brace yourself to ride the wave
Whether we’re actively looking for a change or it’s thrust upon us, it can be daunting. But like a surfer waiting for that big wave, once it arrives it can also be exhilarating.
Change is inevitable for an organisation to stay relevant and effective. It might be nerve-racking but there will be positive outcomes. Standing still can be a greater risk than accepting change.
Keep an open mind
Our new employee is full of ideas and enthusiasm. It would be easy to quash them with: “But we’ve tried that before” or “We haven’t got the resources”. They could quickly become demotivated or defiant. Don’t stifle their thinking: it’s a breath of fresh air.
Be flexible and willing to try new or different approaches, and try to take an objective view on what’s suggested.
Don’t compromise on core values
If you’re a charity you need to act within your charitable objectives. Having a strong sense of purpose and fixing your eyes on your organisation’s core values will help you test ideas and filter the ones that are right for you.
You can’t do it alone
If you’re the one leading change, remember you can’t do it alone. You must have the support and input of key stakeholders or you won’t succeed in creating sustainable change.
Working to bring people together is critical. You might not win over everyone, but if you can clearly explain why change is happening, how it will affect people and their place in that, you’re more likely to win hearts as well as minds.
Pace yourself and keep tracking
Change doesn’t happen overnight, and momentum will dwindle if you try and do everything at once. Identify what the priorities are and recognise that some changes will need time to process emotionally as well as practically.
Create clear objectives and ensure you’re monitoring outcomes, to track your progress. If something isn’t working have the courage to modify or abandon it.
Positive change requires trust and understanding. As we set out on our new journey, difficult decisions and courage may be needed but a shared commitment to look positively to the future is a great first step into the unknown.