skip to main content
Create a Culture That Inspires: Organizational Change, Part 2

Create a Culture That Inspires: Organizational Change, Part 2

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 48
  • Learn more about navigating change -- including the importance of mindset, what happens when organizations don't evolve and how change starts with the individual.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

Mara Hoogerhuis, Gallup Subject Matter Expert in Leadership, Learning and Change, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. In Part 6 of a webcast series focusing on Creating a Culture That Inspires, Mara covered the second half of what to expect in organizational change, including the importance of mindset, what happens when organizations don't evolve and how change starts with the individual. She addressed the way employee engagement can be a metric to track how people are feeling through change, and what managers, teams and organizations can do to make change initiatives succeed.

Access Create a Culture That Inspires -- Part 1, and Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10 and Part 11 of the Create a Culture That Inspires series.

Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

What should I look for in a job/career?

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual studios around the world, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on May 22, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:17

Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's a link right above me on the live page; just sign in there. We'll take your questions during the program. If you're listening after the fact, and you have any questions, you can send us an email: If you're there on YouTube watching us, don't forget to subscribe down below there. There's a subscription button, allow you to get notifications whenever we go live. And if you want to listen to it as a podcast just on any podcast app, search "Gallup Webcasts" and we are there. Mara Hoogerhuis is our host today. She's a Gallup Subject Matter Expert in Leadership, Learning and Change, and Mara, great to have you on Called to Coach and welcome back!

Mara Hoogerhuis 1:03

Thank you so much.

Jim Collison 1:05

Mara, we spent the first half of this session today kind of talking about resiliency and strengths. Talked about it from an individual perspective, how can we own that as individuals, we talked about it from an organizational perspective and gave some advice to managers on things they can do to kind of help their organization thrive during these times of change. If you haven't, if you're coming to this session first, I invite you to go back; it's going to kind of set the baseline for what we're talking about. Here in this session, you're going to kind of lead us through this idea of, OK, so how do I actually do this? How does this actually get done? So give us some tips and advice. And let's just kind of start -- where do we start with this? So I'm ready to do it. Where do we get started?

Mara Hoogerhuis 1:47

So the first place I often think about is mindset. And I know, you know, there's a lot of conversation and research around mindsets these days. And I guess what I'd asked you to reflect on first is, when you think about change, what comes to mind? What are you thinking about? Typically, when organizations or leaders are asking me to help them think about how they lead through change, it's kind of a negative, right? Like this is being done to us; how do I get the most out of it? etc. And I think there's an opportunity to think differently.

Mara Hoogerhuis 2:20

When I think about change, there's different words that come to mind that helped me get in that mindset. Words like adaptation, evolution, transformation, growth, transition, metamorphosis. I think that frames change in a bigger context, right? If you don't change, you might die, you know, from a real evolutionary, like biological standpoint, and I think it starts to look at changes about new beginnings, new openings, going forward. And that, that lens, I think, certainly puts me in a more positive, and puts my clients in a more positive, mindset around change. But it also helps as a strategy to get beyond what's being done, and done to you, to see how the pieces fit together; to get a little clearer on your "Why," and to see how change is, is something that can be anticipated and an expected part of work life and also personal life.

Mara Hoogerhuis 3:22

You know, change is not episodic. I also think we tend to imagine change as something that's going to be done; there's a start and an end. And maybe there are some starts and some ends, you know, you're rolling out a new technology platform or something. But for the most part, change is going to be an ongoing, recurring pattern in our lives. And I think it's speeding up. So what we want to be thinking about now is, rather than trying to manage change -- to minimize the disruption of change, to get our arms around it and like wrestle it to the ground, and tell, tell it how we want it to happen -- we probably need to think more about leading change; about unleashing the opportunity for change to happen across the organization and allowing more initiating of change to happen throughout throughout the organization.

Jim Collison 4:14

Do you have an example, as we, as we kind of think about changes that have gone on -- and it's always easy to look in the past and say, you know. But what would be a great example of an organization maybe that didn't -- change happened, and it didn't, it didn't evolve to meet that change? Yeah.

Mara Hoogerhuis 4:32

That's right. Jim, when was the last time you bought film for your camera?

Jim Collison 4:36

It's been a long time.

Mara Hoogerhuis 4:39

Yeah. So [Eastman Kodak], I think is a great is a great example. There's a famous story, you know that Kodak saw some of the advent of digital photography and technology coming, but said, "Digital will never take the place of film. And so we're not going to get into that business. We're not going to go there." [Eastman Kodak] doesn't exist as a company anymore. So I think there's a, you know, that idea of the in -- the dilemma of the innovator or this notion that because we're the first to do something, we don't have to change, or we know better than the market. But consumer behaviors are changing. Technology is changing. The generations in the workplace is changing. There's so much happening that I think this -- it's a little bit, it's not, it's not humble to assume you don't have to change too. It's all evolving, and we've got to evolve with it.

Jim Collison 5:38

Yeah. And of course, it's always easy -- hindsight is 20/20. And it's always easy to look back. When you're in the middle of those things, it's particularly hard. Like, they thought they were right. There's a lot of organizations that haven't adapted or haven't changed. And in the time, they thought they were right. So we're going to spend some time maybe sifting through that, where it's May 2020 as we record this, and, of course, we're in the middle of COVID, and a pandemic here around the world. I remember as when this, 10 weeks ago, when we -- well, really, 12 weeks ago -- when we really started thinking about what it, what the new world was going to look like from a remote worker standpoint of sending everybody home. I remember having this thought, "OK, I can't stop this from happening; how can I take advantage of it to make sure I'm getting the, like, I'm in the best possible situation from a work standpoint as I can be? How can I use my own strengths? How can I use what I'm good at? How can I use the equipment that's around me -- materials and equipment, right -- to really take advantage of this?" Because we know, teams are made up of individuals, and it really all starts at an individual level. So walk us through a little bit, where do we, where do you focus? And how do we start with the individual first?

Mara Hoogerhuis 6:51

You know, change is personal. And I think the irony of change is that it starts at the individual level. Organizations are made up of individuals. So as we start to think about how we shift organizations or respond to change, even adjusting to smaller changes inside of our own team, we've got to start by thinking about the individual. And I think this is the error that most organizations make is they overindex on thinking and planning around the technology, the systems and the process by which they want to enact change. And they underestimate the time and energy it takes to really shift culture and people and bring them along. And that might be why 70% of organizational change initiatives fail.

Mara Hoogerhuis 7:38

So if we zero in and think about any change through the lens of how we're going to move heads, hearts and hands, I think we'll be more successful. Gallup certainly knows a lot about behavioral economics, the, the connection to feelings and how much feelings drive our energy and decisions in the workplace. And that's what we need in order to make change happen. So, so I think you want to tap into what individuals need, the the mindset, skill sets and tool sets that they need to move along with the change. And you know, a few highlights of kind of what we know some places are that you might want to narrow into, are connected to engagement.

Mara Hoogerhuis 8:20

So we know when there's change in the workplace, big or small, people lose sight of maybe what their priorities are, what their expectations are, their roles and responsibilities. So that's something that managers could start talking about right away when you know a change is happening, is reclarifying. We know people struggle with tools and technology and the materials and equipment to do their work right. And that can create a lot of stress. I mean, I don't know about you, but thinking about all of the people who are having to have new technology working from home and then do their job -- that created a lot of stress. The organizations that were listening to that and then mitigating that undue stress just from technology issues are going to be better off and in leading change.

Mara Hoogerhuis 9:07

We talked a lot yes -- yesterday! -- in our previous session about opportunities -- feels like yesterday, what is a day anymore? We talked a lot about opportunities to do what I do best. And I think, again, helping position people to take advantage of what they bring, to give them energy to develop through change is powerful. We know certainly that people feel less connected sometimes or lose the, lose sight of the mission, when they're going through a lot of change on their team or in their organization. So I think managers being really thoughtful about connecting the dots between what we're doing now and why is a strategy in leading individuals through change.

Mara Hoogerhuis 9:48

And then lastly, you know, we're all in this together -- that kind of mentality, and there's no room for slack when we need everybody's kind of game face and discretionary effort to create change. And so I think, you know, helping connect the dots that all teams are essential; how are you being a partner to your internal teams during change? You know, those are all strategies that can help managers kind of be attuned to the needs we have in the workplace, and particularly those five needs that typically are most impacted when we move people's cheese.

Jim Collison 10:23

Mara, you did a great job there. You didn't say it, but you walked us through Q01, 02 and 03, 08 and 09 on the Q12. And oftentimes, we look at that Q12 assessment as -- some people see it as punitive. In other words, what am I doing wrong? And we've, I've seen this, we've used it at Gallup when, during the '08-'09 financial debacle around the world, we actually implemented the Q12 four times that year. Each quarter, we measure ourselves, right, to determine How are we feeling about this? And so, when you're thinking about rapid change, and you're thinking, what -- do, I just, you know, I used to go to work and now I'm home. What's expected of me, right, Q01: What's expected of me? Two, when I came home, did I have the right materials and equipment to do my job? Right? For you, it might be, Oh my gosh, everybody's online now; my expec -- have my expectations changed?

Jim Collison 11:13

I used to operate with a certain set of rules when everybody was in the office. But now -- Did you sense -- let me ask you that question. This is totally unscripted and off. But when we, when Gallup came home, right, when we, most of us went home, and we lost some folks in the process as well. Did things change for you? Did you see a difference in the way the organization worked? And was that stressful, because the rules changed a little bit?

Mara Hoogerhuis 11:38

I definitely saw a change in the way the organization worked, in terms of kind of speed and agility. I think a lot of organizations, Gallup included, have experienced some redeploying of talents. And that definitely has shifted kind of what I do every day, the tools, the people I work with, and and I think that, that's something we saw as well that kind of connects back to these needs in the workplace.

Jim Collison 12:05

It's -- just an interesting thought -- I, we always come from our perspective, but from our folks who already are remote, what kind of stress did we -- we should be asking you those questions just like I asked you. Like, Hey, how has, Mara, how has your world changed, now that we're operating a little bit differently? Because the majority of us are now working differently; could have a total effect on you. I also think this this question about Are my coworkers committed to quality work? is really, really important in change, because what happens in change sometimes is people start thinking like, "Well, I'm pulling my weight, but I'm not sure my coworkers are," right, and it gives managers this tip, this clue into knowing if that "quality work" component begins to drop. We have some, we have a potential for people, for really bad chemistry to start happening and maybe misalign strengths fits in there. Do you have any, any, anything you'd add to that?

Mara Hoogerhuis 12:58

Well, maybe just pulling out. You know, you're talking about using engagement as a metric to kind of track how people are feeling through a change. And that could certainly be a powerful feedback loop to kind of listen to what people need and make adjustments. I also think you could use data on the front end to see how change-ready your culture is, because we definitely have seen how highly engaged cultures are more resilient during times of change, and actually perform even better than their peers during times of disruption and crisis. So, you know, numbers and tracking can really help us both understand the readiness to get as we begin, and help us understand adoption and impact throughout the process as well.

Jim Collison 13:47

Yeah, and it may not always mean a decrease in engagement, right? We may see -- when I was in the military and during peacetime, that's the worst, like, engagement is at an all-time low. It's not -- the teams aren't functioning like what they're built for. And I was in the military during the first Gulf War, and when we got deployed for that, I saw an organization work like I'd never seen it work before. I actually kind of think, too, here as just during this time, I've seen teams where the engagement has really picked up, you know, and so --

Mara Hoogerhuis 14:20

But just to highlight that, when the organizations that are -- have been measuring engagement throughout this time, we've seen that as well. That the organizational levels of engagement are higher than ever before. And I actually think there's a clue there when you think about leading change. Why, during this time, is it higher? And it's because it's kind of an all-hands-on-deck mentality. We're all pulling together. It's because there's a clear, united purpose that we're all reacting to and responding to. It's because there's more communication than ever before. And I mean, Gallup's been talking about this for a long time, right. One of the biggest levers we have in engagement and performance, and also in leading change, is by shifting the nature of the conversations we have every day. And the conversations that my clients have been having have been much more about providing clarity, confidence, compassion for people. And that's made a, that's made a really meaningful difference. So I think those are things we could bring into any strategy we have going forward when we're navigating change.

Jim Collison 15:25

Any, any other tips, as we think, you know, managers have to lead this change with people. And if -- you kind of mentioned the communication. I think it's imperative that we communicate more, right, and purposefully. Not communicate to just communicate's sake: Oh, I'm gonna set a reminder to send an email to my team every Monday. Not kind of that, but that purposeful communication. Anything else you would add to that?

Mara Hoogerhuis 15:49

I would just double down on feedback. So, you know, we're talking about how you lead change; that organizational change begins with individual change. And o as a manager, providing meaningful feedback is the way to give your folks more agency during the change. I think those conversations can be focused on what can they contribute to this so that people don't, again, don't feel like it's being done to them. I think those conversations could be grounded in How can you develop through this? Right? What do you want to learn from this? And I think those conversations can be future-oriented and, and positive in nature. So it's, you know, how can we, where do we want to go? So more visioning and more of a strengths-based lens on, on how we use what we've got to navigate this can be really important.

Jim Collison 16:42

Yeah, I think that strengths-based lens and inventory of what I have, if I'm a manager, and I'm in crisis, I need it -- and I haven't taken a strengths inventory of my of my team -- what do I have with me? I might find I have all the components I need to lead through change and the people I have. I just didn't know I had it. And so a great opportunity to lead your team by taking inventory. What do they ... ? And not just having them take the CliftonStrengths assessment and get some words back, but some actual conversations. We spent some time with Paul and Al Winseman talking about the 5 Coaching Conversations, of having some real conversations with your folks of saying, Hey, where do you think you could be utilized more? This could be a great opportunity.

Jim Collison 17:24

OK. So as we think, as we move up to an organizational level, and as we kind of wrap this, where would we start organizationally? What are some tips some organizations can do to really kind of think or double down -- I'll use your words -- to double down on this?

Mara Hoogerhuis 17:38

You know, where you were going, I want to expand on kind of a strength inventory is, you know, a great tactic for what I would say is the, the strategy of broadening involvement. So going back to the different words I use to describe and conceive of change -- evolution, adaptation, transformation, metamorphosis -- you know, those words, in many ways, speak to the world, biology, animals, life. And so I think about ecosystems a lot when I think about helping leaders and organizations go through change. We are all in an organizational ecosystem. One change in one part of the organization creates a lasting, you know, issue in another part. It's all interrelated.

Mara Hoogerhuis 18:25

And so I think what, where you might start if you're wanting to lead a change is by trying to involve more people in your thinking and in your plan. So I believe the you know, the answer is in the room, so expand the room. Get cross-functional partners together. Talk about the unintended consequences and the implications. Talk about what happens if everything works beautifully, and the downstream consequences that you probably need to plan for. You know, just get more visibility.

Mara Hoogerhuis 18:57

What I'd like to buck is this notion that change is designed at the top, and it's rolled out to everybody else. Because then I think we have a limited view of, of change. And so what I'd rather encourage is it's not about designing the plan and rolling out messages; it's about building more messengers. And so, you know, understanding who your stakeholders are, understanding how the inner -- the organization is kind of interrelated, and, and involving more people in the plan. The planning process is really important. It's going to get their buy-in; it's going to reduce a lot of, you know, unforced errors; and it's probably going to allow, you know, people to move more quickly as well.

Jim Collison 19:45

Mara, we spent a lot of time talking about some advice around when change is -- I think the assumption we made was when change is forced on organizations. What about organizations where change becomes -- and Justin just asked this question in the chat room, but I think it's applicable -- what about change for change's sake? Sometimes organizations, just because it's the new hottest thing to do, just because it's -- not saying agile, the agile methodology is not the latest hot topic, right, whatever. But as we think about organizations changing and just to jump on the latest bandwagon, do we have any thoughts kind of around that when the change is maybe not healthy for the organization on that side? How can managers or individuals approach that?

Mara Hoogerhuis 20:29

I think it's not healthy when it's been derived from a myopic place. Kind of going back to that idea of, if there's, you know, people in a dark room pulling the strings, it's always going to feel like it's not connected to a big "Why"; it's always going to feel like it's being done to us. And I guess I'd go back to this, this mindset of, you know, change is necessary. Figuring out the right changes is something we need to broaden involvement around so we reduce some of this downstream resistance that people might say, Well, I don't see why; this just feels like change for change's sake. If that's something you're hearing in your organization, that's probably a clue that we need to do some better connecting of the dots for people. I'd actually see that as a red flag.

Jim Collison 21:17

Yeah. And, and maybe, in a sense, it causes us to question, Do we have people in the right places, if they're not seeing that change as necessary or needed or there's lots of resistance there? Think there's some great questions you can ask as a manager of "Why." Oftentimes, we just say, "We're doing this; put up with it." Like, you just have to deal with it. When it's like, Why? Tell me more about that. Tell me why you think it's a bad idea. And let's, let's dialogue about this. And maybe there's some clues that maybe we don't have you aligned properly inside the organization and there's another role that fits you better from that standpoint, or adapting or adjusting their job responsibilities to have it make sense from that. Mara, anything else you'd add before we wrap this up?

Mara Hoogerhuis 22:01

Maybe just a real down-and-dirty quick tip. Think about who your stakeholders are, and create a stakeholder map. You know, you talked about an inventory of strengths on your team. You know, that works both for an intact but also expand it to cross-functional partners. Where are those dependencies? Because again, if we think about an organization as an ecosystem, and changes and evolution, then we want to figure out where the, where the dependencies are, so that we can cover all of our bases. So I think you could just do a quick stakeholder map and start thinking about it, and then engage people in conversations. I think the biggest mistake we make as leaders is trying to figure it out on our own because we see the value we bring as the decider, you know, and the planner, and I would just say actually, the value you bring is maybe in bringing groups of people together to decide and plan.

Jim Collison 22:57

Hmm, no, that's great advice. With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available. Again, we've got, through this Building Cultures That Inspire series, we've got some great sessions on this as we've been working through Communication and Recognition and Strengths; Name it, Claim it and Aim it, which we covered in the very first session. So those are available for you at You can while you're there, sign up for our CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter. That way, you can always stay up to date on all the things that are happening here. And you can always be in the know, because that's what people really want, Mara, is to be in the know, right? They just don't want to be left out of the decision. That's right, let me know; communicate with me. We do that, we do that as well. If you have any questions, you can send us an email: If you want to join us for live sessions, you can follow that over at And if you're interested in joining us on social, you can go to On LinkedIn, maybe you're not a Facebooker, and on LinkedIn, you can head over to "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches," and that -- we'll let you in that group as well. I want to thank you for joining us today. Mara, thank you for spending time with us over these last two, and we'll look forward to having you back again. If you're listening live, stay around we got -- I've got a couple of questions for the postshow. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Mara Hoogerhuis' Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Strategic, Maximizer, Relator, Responsibility and Arranger.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030