Those who control person’s job status, salary and recognition within the firm have ultimate control. Does this mean a CEO can order change to occur? My observations are consistent with organizational behavior theory. The answer is no, at least in the professional environment where I spent over 35 years of my career. What I have seen is that if a change initiative is sincere, selfless, and is valid in the minds of staff, then a CEO can coax change to actually be achieved. The attitude and actions of the CEO and Division Managers must create an environment, by example and through recognition programs, to remove barriers.
For example, a CEO or Division Manager often sets the agenda for business progress meetings. It is not hard to credibly explain that broad engagement in generating revenue is a good idea. But these meeting agendas are usually a barrier. They have billability as the first item on the business meeting agenda. The first item on most agendas often ends up being what gets the most time and attention. Instead, the agenda needs to start with client relationship activities and the opportunities those relationships identify and, to measure the level of staff time spent on such client interactions. The strategy to get the “ah-ha” reaction is to measure progress towards sales in a language spoken by those who are most often opposed to anything that is not billable– operations and finance staff, and for junior staff, even project managers. If everyone can see value and understands its connection to job security, good benefits, and less pressure, then everyone will jump on board. Whether you are a marketing, sales professional or a CEO, try this approach and see what happens. Don’t over think it. Sometimes a seemingly simple change like this can be a catalyst for change.