Language is power... Language can be used as a means of changing reality. ~ Adrienne Rich
A challenge with corporate sustainability has been all about changing mindsets and systems. Businesses often try to sell change to the organization as a way to attain agreement and accelerate sustainable business implementation. Selling change to people is most often not a sustainable strategy for success. It creates resistance.
Think about it. When somebody tells you what to do, do you do it? Probably not. No one likes to be told what to do - even when they are up for it. While sustainable business strategies may further the corporate vision and simultaneously create meaningful work for employees, the employees actually have to be engaged and involved for it to be meaningful.
The post, Consider Consequences Of Language In Organizational Change, illustrates the power of language in managing organizational change. 'In his paper 'Discursive Positioning and Planned Change in Organizations,' Kevin Barge, professor of communication in the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M, states that our experiences regarding change are influenced largely by the words that we say and the impact of those words on our coworkers. According to Barge, if people are conscious of the effects their words can have on others, they will be more likely initiate successful change efforts and build productive organizational relationships.'
How can this be applied from a business sustainability perspective? Implementing sustainable business strategies in any organization requires a complex mixture of finesse: realistic, achievable and measurable. Finding that magical balance is what is required to make change stick.
- Define Value - each organization identifies value differently - what is it from their perspective?
- Bridge the Gap - Connect the dots from the current status to the vision by helping those to capture their own vision and define a path forward to live into it
- Speak the Business Language - Tie Business objectives to sustainability. What gets measured gets managed. Hence, identify key metrics and tie to the bottom line.
- Bridge Up - what existing programs wrap up to an overarching sustainability plan?
- Who's at the table? Invite all stakeholders to the table to include buy in from all.
Sustainability is all about inclusion. By embracing sustainability’s core principals of inclusion, transparency, and engaged communication with stakeholders, sustainable change is not only possible but encourages ownership and accountability within multiple levels in the organization. How are you speaking about sustainability in your organization?
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