Strategy & LeadershipBusiness TransformationLeading transformational change: Sophia Salim, Managing Director, Right OnBoard

Leading transformational change: Sophia Salim, Managing Director, Right OnBoard

Sophia Salim, Managing Director, Right OnBoard, sponsors of the HR Distinction Awards 2019, talks to HRD Connect about what makes a true leader able to achieve transformational change, the challenges facing those leaders, and what makes a truly successful organisational transformation.

Sophia Salim, Managing Director, Right OnBoard, sponsors of the HR Distinction Awards 2019, talks to HRD Connect about what makes a true leader able to achieve transformational change, the challenges facing those leaders, and what makes a truly successful organisational transformation.


What are the foremost challenges facing transformational change?

There are several challenges that face transformational change- hence research shows around 70% of change initiatives fail. The consequences of change can be devastating and long lasting – it can destroy morale, waste resources and increase staff turnover, which could negate the planned increase in efficiency and productivity. Keeping employees motivated, engaged and productive is a key challenge and one of the most critical areas to address is making sure that all of the attention isn’t on the process and structure of change and instead there is focus on the people at the heart of delivering those processes. Right OnBoard are the first company to focus exclusively on re-onboarding your people following organisational change. For employees to adapt to change they need to know what to do, who they can turn to, and to feel valued by their organisation. This will create a more positive environment for the change to embed quickly and effectively.

What do you think defines true leadership in achieving transformational change?

True leadership in achieving transformational change is about having a vision and being able to communicate that vision so that It creates the energy and will to make change happen. The vision inspires individuals and organisations to commit, to persist and to give their best. However, the vision alone will not be enough. True leadership is about acting with integrity and valuing your employees. We help you prioritise the single most important element for business success – your people.

How can a leader effectively communicate with their workforce to bring about change?

Consistency and repetition of message is vital to help employees understand the change- they may need to hear it multiple times to be able to fully process the information. Often, in the midst of change leaders tend to pay less attention to relationships and following a change, quality interactions and communication can decline. The perception is that it is important to be driving the business rather than focussing on the needs and concerns of employees. However, providing leadership during times of uncertainty is critical as employees need reassurance. Communication during change keeps leaders updated with how employees are feeling about the change. For communication to be effective it needs to be open and transparent and regular two-way communication enables employees with a platform to express concerns and feel they are being listened to. We encourage these regular discussions to help bring about change.

What is the sign of a truly successful organisational transformation?

Many companies think that getting to through the implementation or restructure to the Go Live date is the end of the transformation but the reality is that until you achieve sustained behavioural change it will be difficult to reap the financial and other benefits the change was intended to achieve. Successful organisational transformation will only happen when people change their behaviours and so it’s important to have a framework to follow that enables the changes in behaviour to be tracked and measured. Our research-based, simple and effective programme called Restore provides a clear framework on what practical things organisations can do to help their people through change.

What does it mean to Right OnBoard to sponsor the HR Distinction Award for Leading Transformational Change?

This award is about recognising excellence in the people aspect of a business transformation project which is why we are privileged to sponsor such a prestigious award. Just when you need people to perform at their best, people are feeling at their worst; as Maya Angelou, the American Civil Rights Activist said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you make them feel.” This award is about getting that part right.

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