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3 powerful questions to ask during a change process

By Tiina Raekallio on Feb 1, 2018 10:15:00 AM , updated on Aug 24, 2021

It’s difficult to imagine a more rewarding job than encouraging others to embrace change and learn something new. I know I have succeeded when my customers make great strides toward creating efficient, fun, and inspiring workplace communities.

One great example is Wärtsilä Energy, a global leader in sustainable energy solutions, which has implemented a bold and unique organizational growth strategy that involved all levels of the company. Read more about Wärtsilä’s change process here.

Sometimes the most important question is the simplest

All dynamic organizations are seeking to improve through change and to create something new. And for our organizations to change and develop, we need one another and a great deal of enthusiasm. This calls for inspiration and good management, which are at the core of my work with customers. 

I’m not selling anything or offering cookie-cutter solutions. The most important aspect of my work is to offer options and be able to pose the right questions to the management of the organization. The most important question is: “What would help you the most right now?” 

This question usually gets things going. I hear how the organization is doing – its strengths and weaknesses and I see where they need help. In the best case scenario, I’m asked to come along on a journey with them to find new ways to promote change. And I always ask follow up questions until I can clearly see which aspects of their work processes can be improved through digitalization.

Ask questions to engage people and solve problems 

By asking questions, I (and you) prepare the community for change. Questions help build a workplace where interaction works, all members have the courage to be themselves, any and all issues are addressed, and everyone understands what the change means.

In other words, every member of the organization must go in the same direction, working toward a common goal. For many supervisors, this is the hardest part of change. They don’t know how to involve and inspire people. Another good question comes in handy here, and it must be posed to each member of the organization: “Would you like to help?”

If a supervisor directly asks an employee for help, the employee must first decide whether they commit to the goals and then think about their role in achieving those goals.

Changes can be implemented successfully only if each member of the organization relates to the common goals and feels that they have been heard and understood.

This requires a shift in the company mindset, which moves away from merely pushing employees towards change with external factors but rather inspires them by helping them understand the purpose of their work and change processes. It's crucial to spend some time with the "why" in organizational development initiatives.

No more rule of the loudest

Now supervisors are faced with the third and most challenging question: “How can I possibly listen to everyone?”

A change cannot be implemented successfully if only the loudest have a say and everyone else is sitting quietly in the back row. Everyone has the right to take part. All voices should get a seat at the table. 

In my work, every week I can see for myself that each and very employee can be heard if the process is digitalized skillfully. After that, it’s easy to involve people and collect feedback and comments. When I introduce my customers to an effective digital way to promote change, I help them succeed in their core operations.

Change takes place insight by insight. This can mean realizing that we don’t need pointless weekly meetings or endless emails to collect feedback. Everyone can express their opinion and show their priorities on a digital platform by giving a thumbs-up or a star rating, for example. When everyone has used their three thumbs-ups, it’s easy to see which aspect of change has received the most support and continue from there.

In the end, success is simple: the more direct the route, the more quickly we will reach our destination. Day-to-day work will run more smoothly, and we will be more productive.


For more organizational development tips to help you manage complex change initiatives, download our free eBook: How to Effectively Implement Organizational Change in a Digital Environment.

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