Employee appreciation day is something we can do every day.
More and more companies and their leaders are focusing on their most valuable asset: their people.
In an environment as changeable as today’s flexibility and innovation are important in order to deal with the market, by being ahead of it or adapting to it. Flexibility usually means change, be it big or small, and that is something that many people can find difficult at first.
An intrinsic need for security in humans leads to beliefs that stability will bring safety and therefore change will endanger that stability and security. Beliefs like this belie the reality of everyday changes we overcome without even noticing: dealing with the car breaking down, the alternative route to work, the new colleague, old friends leaving, new friends coming, children growing up….
Humans are champions of change, how else would we be where we are now, and be able to reflect on what is worth holding on to, what is worth improving and what we can let go.
Nevertheless this belief in stability should not be ignored, as it is valid in and of itself and stems from a basic human need. It needs to be taken into account and appreciated in any change process, as it ensures that good things are retained and don’t fall victim to unchecked throwing-over-board of all things established. In order to ease even the most stalwartly opposition to change, I have found appreciative inquiry a positive, powerful and effective tool in looking at the values of an organisation holistically, identifying areas for improvement - and, yes, change - and developing strategies to advance towards new goals.
The key to appreciative inquiry is focusing on what is good in the organisation first, not on problems, thereby giving participants the opportunity to be in a positive frame of mind when solving issues in later steps. The momentum built in this first step is instrumental in building a positive vision of the future and taking advantage of the positive aspects in the organisation in order to further improve it. Starting by appreciating the organisation's treasures does not mean problems are ignored, but dealt with in a following step, with a frame of mind that is conducive to effective problem solving.
In short, the 4 steps in appreciative inquiry are:
- Discovery: the unearthing of the organisations treasures in interviews focused on employees'/managers'/suppliers'/customers' (depending on who is relevant for the change) view of what the organisation does very well. This is all about appreciating the strengths that exist in the organisation already. These interviews result in a collection of the organisation's treasures.
- Dream: in this step the group comes up with a vision of where the organisation will go, where it could go, and what the future could bring.
- Design: now we start getting down to the nitty-gritty aspects of designing the vision in terms of what should be. This could include improving on current practices, changing processes completely, as well as starting something completely new in some areas.
- Destiny: in the final step the participants take their destiny fully in to their hands by determining what is going to be put in place to meet the design and dream criteria, and agreeing actions in order to set the change in motion.
For all of you out there involved in a change, supporting or designing change, I hope this helps and I look forward to seeing you again next blog.