How to Drive Change, Even as an Entry-level Employee
Published 12 August, 2020
In business, most sweeping organizational changes are driven from the top down. The senior leadership team sets the strategy, gets buy-in, aligns resources, and starts implementation in the areas under their direct supervision. Change trickles down through the organization. How much junior-level employees learn about why changes are being made varies widely depending on the company's communication style.
But do you really have to wait for a title that starts with S or C to make an impact? Absolutely not!
Organizations are full of smart, creative, people looking for ways to meaningfully contribute. If that sounds like you, here are three ways to get started:
Show people what you're passionate about
The best way to make sure you're top of mind for interesting opportunities is to make it known where your passions lie. Even if that's outside your current role! Attend optional meetings, ask questions, and take advantage of internal resources to learn about what your company is doing in the area that interests you. Are there any ways to start tying that into your current work? For example, when I started at GXG I did a lot of research to support our clients and business development efforts. But I also really cared about how things looked. Over time, I made small changes to the deliverables I was responsible for and explained why I thought they were important. I also did independent research and suggested new tools to make some of our tasks more efficient as well as more professional looking. When we were ready to rebrand and dip our toe into content marketing, I was on the team! Never be afraid to tell people what aspects the business get you excited. Even if there's not a need right now, it keeps your options open when your company inevitably grows or changes.
Be the voice of the customer
Perhaps a faster way to make an impact in your company is to help amplify the voice of your customers. Customer needs and experience are crucial factors in business decisions, but sometimes senior leadership is insulated from direct customer feedback. If you have a customer-facing role, you can help connect what you hear in your day-to-day work to bigger changes that are being considered for your organization. The key to this is learning how to offer great customer service within the limits of your current offerings. By becoming a go-to troubleshooter, you build credibility with your colleagues and managers. You'll quickly be able to build a prioritized list of common issues and have the standing to suggest potential solutions. You'll also get a feel for how the organization responds to critique. This can be a great way to decide early-on if the company culture is one you want to build a career in.
Create a new best practice
This last tip truly applies to any person in any role. As you master your day-to-day, be on the lookout for a small improvement that might align with higher-level strategy or company value. This is not making a change for change's sake. Rather, you should find a way to make a process more efficient or an output more reliable that fits into the overall story your company is trying to tell about itself. This requires some familiarity with how the organization communicates to clients and stakeholders. You also have to toot your own horn a little bit! Help explain the change to others who make come in contact with your work. Remind your manager in your next review. If possible, take the initiative and collect data on how the change is working. Even senior leaders have to demonstrate their impact on the business. Start small, and build a practice that will serve you well for the duration of your career.
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