Three Keys to Energizing Top Talent To Lead Change and Innovation

Diffusion of Innovation
Everett Rogers, a professor of communication studies, popularized the diffusion or adoption theory in his book Diffusion of Innovations; first published in 1962. Rogers explained that diffusion is the process by which an innovation or any significant change is adopted by the participants in a social system or organization. The innovation must be widely adopted in order to become sustainable or reach critical mass or the “tipping point.”

There are five phases, stages or categories of adopters: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. Not until the early majority have “bought in” is the change likely to be sustainable. This is where your Top Talent comes into play. Consider the effect of energizing your top talent who are most likely to be innovators and early adopters, and to become an early majority. As the Diffusion Model illustrates, this means 50% of the population accepts the change and will adopt the innovation.  Then, they are in the best position to influence the late majority.

In April 2015 the Millennials became the majority of the workforce. By energizing that group and those they can influence you will be on the way to sustainable implementation. Here are Three Keys that can make that happen.

1. Be A Coach
Top Talent, particularly Millennials what to be coached. They will resist an autocratic, demanding boss but will take guidance and direction from a coach-based manager. Highly effective coaches have developed the skills to create conversation and to engage team members in collaborative discussions. Not only does this minimize resistance, it also increases the flow of solutions to the challenges that arise during implementation and execution of the change strategy.

2. Establish Clear Goals and Expectations
Top performers what to know what is expected of them and the goals to focus their efforts on. Setting expectations and establishing mutually agreed upon goals is best accomplished early in their career – during the onboarding process – and continue in real-time performance discussions. The annual performance review is totally ineffective and being abandoned by forward thinking enterprises.

3. Create High Performing Cohesive Teams
In their book, The Wisdom of Teams, team development authorities, Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith said, “A team remains the most flexible and most powerful unit of performance, learning and change in any organization.” Given the rapid acceleration of change, that is more true today than when the book was published over 20 years ago. In the book, they gave us the definition of a “real team” (distinct from work groups) as a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. Katzenbach and Smith then defined a high performing team as having all the characteristics of a real team and whose members are deeply committed to one another’s personal growth and success.

General Stanley McChrystal (Retired) added another dimension to organizational effectiveness in his book, A Team of Teams (May 2015). He points out that many processes in use today are more complex than they were before the information age, making them ineffective and less predictable. Unfortunately, The Frederick Taylor system of scientific management, which revolutionized engineering and manufacturing in the early years of the 20th century, is still being practiced today and is totally ineffective dealing with the challenges of the complex knowledge economy. My final word is to effectively manage change and implement innovation your organization must become a team of teams led by coach-based managers.
The Talent Management Institute offers a number of resources to develop you managers’ and team leaders’ capacity to support change, communicate more effectively, and develop high performing cohesive teams. Click on the following link to learn more.

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