Last week we talked about organization development (OD) and culture, which encompasses change, performance, and learning. Today we’ll focus on the first aspect of OD and culture: change. Particularly, we’ll look at change competencies and how they can be developed within your nonprofit to create the culture that best serves your organization’s strategy.

To what extent does your organization treat change management strategically? And how can you approach change more proactively this year? Many nonprofit leaders see change management as a reactive process, a means to mitigate the organizational effects of unfolding change or prepare employees for impending change. But what about readying both your agency, your people, and yourself for change before it’s even a blip on the radar?

That’s where competency development comes in.

Change competencies

A competency is an identified knowledge, skill, or attribute that directly and positively affects the success of employees and the organization. Change readiness is a behavior competency, or a core behavior applicable to all employees and tied to organizational culture.

According to Elad Levinson in his article, “Shifting Sands,” from the Fall 2016 issue of CTDO magazine: “You have the influence to redesign the development of people and make change skills and tools the core competencies of your company. Thus, place change and change management at the center of leadership and executive competencies. Redesign and re-engineer the company’s strategy, systems, structures, skills, staffing, and style to take advantage of the competitive edge of companies that are change masters.”

Some hallmarks of change competence include:

  • Awareness: an ability to scan the external environment and internal organization for change
  • Adaptability: the degree to which an employee or organization is flexible and agile
  • Anticipation: consistent optimism about the future with the understanding that change is inevitable
  • Attention: clear focus on individual and organizational goals at hand regardless of impending change

Nonprofit leaders must understand that successful competency development starts at the top. This means that your leadership team members and you must be prepared to take on the above change-readiness characteristics and walk the talk as you roll out a transformational approach to change within your organization.

Are awareness, adaptability, anticipation, and attention behaviors that your employees and you consistently exhibit? Are they woven into the fabric of your organization’s culture? As you develop your agency’s people to be change competent and your culture to be change ready, be prepared to approach change holistically and systemically. This will ensure change initiatives “stick.”

  • Align goals to create a clear understanding of the link between change competencies and individual performance to the overall outputs of the organization.
  • Promote best practices though custom training activities that focus on personal and professional development and team learning to support change competencies across the organization.
  • Encourage learning by providing a collaborative training experience using organization-specific content to foster team building, knowledge sharing, peer coaching, and mentoring.

For more on change competency development as a part of your organization’s change management strategy, see the Brighter Strategies Resource Guide, Change Management: The Role of Strategic Communication.

CHANGE MANAGEMENT: The Role of Strategic Communication

Change management is the process of helping individuals and the organization to transition from a current state to a desired state.

This workbook explores change management as a communication function. It lays the groundwork with an explanation of popular change models, including The Change Curve and The Change Cycle. It then guides readers through the process of strategic change communication focused specifically on organization planning, people, processes, and performance.

Learn how to craft a vision for change, manage stakeholder expectations, set measurable change objectives, and communicate change effectively in your organization in this latest addition to Brighter Strategies’ Training Series: Planning, Process, People, Performance.

Change Management: The Role of Strategic Communication ebook