Organizational Change and Loyalty: Big Dogs Rule the Yard


We hear it every day across all industries: “change is the new constant”, the way to outpace our rivals is to “out change the competition.” When planning for a single change or adopting an environment of constant change, there should be a level of recognition that how companies have defined “loyalty” as it pertains to its employees has in fact evolved. In previous generations, when an employee was asked to jump, the response was “how high?” In the current environment, at multiple levels across an organization or enterprise, when an employee is asked to jump the response is “why?”

Admitting that employee loyalty as recent as two and three generations ago was much more simplistic is the first step. For instance, when an individual as part of the baby boomer generation or generation X held a job and was asked to make a change, no matter how considerable, they did so because it was their job and that’s what they were paid to do. The job provided an income to support the family, insurance to cover health and wellness and in many cases retirement benefits and a pension. In dissecting employee loyalty today, the concept of what organizations are seeking has grown to be multifaceted. To not only survive but thrive in the modern culture of constant change, an organization no longer needs employees who sign up to sit in the same chair for the next 20 years. What organizations need are candidates that will be loyal in the sense that they make a pact for employment to give their strongest and most creative ideas every day that they show up for work.

An added complexity to the modern day picture is that Individuals too have many more options, more opportunities, and with a global economy can now assess not only: is the change being considered good for the company, but is it good for the company AND is it good for me. Once an organization that is facing a major change understands the difference in the dated simple scenario versus the evolved version of company loyalty, planning for a transformation and future operation will be poised take a quantum leap in a positive direction.

To put the concept into context, one of the most important goals of any major organizational change is to maintain healthy operations and productivity with the least amount of distraction and disruption. Whether it be a merger, acquisition, change in vision, expansion of products, markets, etc. companies need to continue to draw profit and maintain a customer base throughout the period of change.

Just the thought of what needs to occur can be extremely overwhelming. If we focus on what behaviors are ideal for employees during times of change, we can categorize some of the most important characteristics, profiling individuals as “Big Dogs” or…not so big dogs. Let’s keep it simple, following the Rule of 3’s:

If You Can’t Run with the Big Dogs, Stay on the Porch: Concepts of static versus a growth mindset

1. Embrace change versus being paralyzed by change: Organizations today that are looking for future employees who will be loyal in the traditional sense are operating at a huge disadvantage. The profile for the “Big Dogs” are individuals who can be flexible and adaptable. Successful organizations are not looking to attract candidates that desire to work in one role until the end of time, but employees who:

  1. Are futuristic in their thinking

  2. Exhibit intellectual curiosity

  3. Want their ideas to be not only heard but considered for action

2. Learn from failure versus fear of failure: Successes and failures are not only outcomes but are inputs into future strategy development. “Big Dogs” recognize that failure is a necessary part of the problem solving process. Organizations that allow employees to feel comfortable with failure as long as there is a mechanism in place to learn have the ability to more quickly adapt to a changing environment. Organizations that are risk averse to failure will not push the boundaries of what is possible and will therefore not outpace their competitors.

3. Be an Early Adopter versus a Laggard: One of the most important measurements in the effectiveness of a change is getting a pulse check of who is on board versus who is resisting. The return on investment of any change cannot achieve its maximum potential if individuals are either not adopting necessary change into their routine or are doing so at varying levels. “Big Dogs” are employees that want to engage early to understand the change the organization is undergoing.

  1. Why are we changing?

  2. What does it mean for me short term? (risk/opportunity)

  3. What is the industry/personal outlook long term?

Big Dogs are valuable assets to seek out to provide input into the development of training tool and communications, to become change champions for others and to provide feedback on the pulse of the organization overall.

Foundational principles for being a “Big Dog”

Self-reflection of change activities:

  1. Are you learning something new?

  2. Do you trust who you work with?

  3. Are you proactively engaged?

An individual’s impact of change on others:

  1. Do you manage up and down in a way that is productive and sincere?

  2. Are you honest?

  3. Are you authentic?

Understand & measure where you are on the continuum by asking for feedback from others.

What type of Dog are you today? AND what type of dog do you want to be 90 days from now?

1. Small Dog: Answered NO to the majority of the founding principles above.

2. Medium Dog: Answered YES to at least half of the founding principles above.

3. Big Dog: Answered YES to the majority of the founding principles above.

#Loyalty #EmbraceChange

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