Fortune 500 companies are big, complex organizations. Over time, processes become unspoken law, thinking becomes entrenched and certainty is preferred over risk. For big organizations with fixed structures, successfully enacting change can be very hard.
But, change is critical for innovation, business sustainability, and continued organizational success. Change management must be driven at all levels. A critical component to driving change across all levels of the organization is organizational alignment. The work environment – systems, processes and behaviors – may need to adjust through effective communication and influence in order to evolve and grow. Further, strong leadership is crucial to inspire business transformation. Naturally, senior level leaders are favored to lead change in large organizations because they are visible, vocal, knowledgeable about the organization and have an expansive network.
However, what if you are a Millennial who lacks the experience and/or the organizational knowledge and influence? Do you need to spend a few years working before you can become a change agent? Or wait until senior level employees retire?
The answer is no! That would be too costly. Experience can help to drive change, but it is not required. You have many attributes to create change in their work environment. You can start with what you have: your idea, your connections, and your passion. Below are a few actionable steps you can use to drive change from day one. (NOTE: We believe that Millennials can also apply this advice in small to medium size companies and even start-ups.)
1) Your idea:
a. Put your ideas on paper. Many great ideas never come to fruition because few people take the time to record them. Write your idea down. It will help you have a record of it and it will help you see it from a different perspective.
b. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Don’t get paralyzed because you think you have to create everything from scratch. Ask others to help you draft your presentation. Someone may have a template ready for you to leverage or they may direct you to useful online resources.
2) Your connections:
a. Seek feedback. Embrace feedback from others on your idea. Starting out, it may be hard to get time with the senior level executives, especially in a Fortune 500 company. However, your peers and your managers are a great place to start. If your peers like the idea, they may jump in and help you execute. Also, if your direct management is on board, they can help direct you on how to move forward.
b. Leverage your connection’s connections. Leverage your management’s connections. If you have a limited network as a new employee, make sure to ask for recommendations on who else you should connect with. This will help you strategically expand your network.
c. Identify promoters and detractors. Focus on those who are very supportive of what you are trying to change and ask them for resources, direction, connections… etc. Additionally, it is equally important to reach out to the detractors to understand their concerns. That will help strengthen your argument.
3) Your passion:
a. Don’t give up; be patient. Change takes time, especially in large enterprises. If you are truly passionate about a topic, naturally, you will be enthusiastic about bringing your idea to life. Work to develop a strong network across the organization. If your idea is not adopted, don’t panic; continue to socialize the idea in your network and incorporate the feedback to customize the solution to the business need.
on the journey and learn from the process. Not
all of your ideas will be adopted in your work environment. That is okay.
You will still gain valuable skills like leadership, communication, and
collaboration. You will learn a lot more
about the company and yourself and that is priceless.