Marieke van het Erve

Marieke van het Erve

Our head is round so that our thoughts can change direction!

I regard change as a constant, something which is a normal part of day-to-day business. When considering change, it’s crucial to shift the focus from experiencing problems to seeing solutions. So rather than taking stock of everything that’s gone wrong, it’s better to examine where the opportunities lie.

Solutions often involve changing people’s behaviour and attitudes, which are not easy to shape, but which can nevertheless be influenced, for instance by creating engagement, encouraging individual responsibility and entering into an open dialogue.

In my experience, one effective way of changing behaviour within an organisation is to make a joint analysis of the desired end goal through an “Appreciative Inquiry”. This is a vision and strategy for implementing change, which is based on the premise that a system develops positively once people become engaged in investigating what works and what they would like to do in the future. Discussions are held to explore how strengths can be built on and to determine the specific steps that can be taken towards a shared, broadly-supported goal. This approach increases engagement: it inspires new ideas of the future and generates the energy and the will to pursue them.

An organisation’s management has a crucial role to play with respect to change: it must serve as the social proof of that change for the rest of the organisation.

Change requires insight, inspiration and care, and the ability to communicate all of this to the people within the organisation. Inspired, honest and consistent leadership are a key requirement for any successful change process. This means that managers must also be leaders or have the competences to become leaders. I enjoy coaching managers through this process and giving them clear feedback on the effect that their behaviour has on the envisaged change process and the end result.