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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

15 ideas to cultivate an open mindset for change in the workplace

Prepare your team early so they’ll be up to the task and expectations.

15 ideas to cultivate an open mindset for change in the workplace
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]

Building a culture of adaptability among leadership and staff starts with clarity and transparency about the company’s objectives if you want to get everyone on board from the top down.

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As you train and encourage your team to be fearless about facing challenges, they will become much more resilient and willing to go the distance, implementing a new direction at the company that is positive and beneficial for all.

Below, 15 members of Fast Company Executive Board present their best practices for introducing a new approach to the business process that makes employees feel confident about embracing a flexible mindset and becoming more involved as valuable company stakeholders in their role to move the organization forward.

1. BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE.

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Use a decision-making log and publish it for the whole company to see. Help your people see the tangible results of senior leaders trying to adapt the company to change while staying true to a core set of values or principles. This provides a clear example of the right behavior and a tangible tool anyone can use to adapt to change. – Brian McCann, Intergalactic

2. STAY TRANSPARENT.

Leadership must be honest with employees. Keep them informed of risks and potential opportunities. Make it a collaborative exercise to discuss tasks and execute towards mitigating risks or capturing opportunities. This creates a sense of ownership and excitement to navigate and overcome any challenge. Together, everyone learns to become a nimble and important element in future endeavors. – Alice Hayden, H2 IT Solutions

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3. ARM YOUR TEAMS WITH CLARITY.

There exist opportunities to identify influential teams in an organization. Therefore, arm them with clear objectives and outside resources with the aim to work through an iterative process that is set up to test hypotheses, learn, regroup, make a new version, and repeat. This experience is at the heart of design thinking and will flip “fear of failure” into learning adaptability. – Michelle Hayward, Bluedog

4. DEVELOP A CONFIDENT AND RESILIENT STAFF.

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Train employees as if they need to vertically and horizontally integrate their skill sets. We found that when we do this in acquisition scenarios, employees gain confidence to be resilient to new ideas and new, challenging processes. It also creates a greater spirit of resiliency within the organization when staff can say, “I can do hard things because I’ve done them in the past.” – Tyrone Foster, InvestNet, LLC

5. ENGAGE IN CONSTANT COMMUNICATION.

Transparency ensures companies build adaptability within their organization because it shows trust and understanding from the top down. Adaptability is usually tough for companies because there’s a lack of communication and employees are typically thrown into predicaments without any previous knowledge of a situation. A level of transparency removes that barrier and makes the process easier. – Josh Perlstein, Response Media

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6. EXPLAIN WHY A CHANGE IS NEEDED.

Role model it. Don’t react negatively to change without understanding the rationale, and be transparent when you make a change and explain it as well. – Sunil Rajasekar, Mindbody

7. ENSURE YOUR GOALS AND METRICS ARE ALIGNED.

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A practical way to foster change is through organization metrics. What and how you measure communicates what is important. Your cultural organizational goals and metrics must be aligned to make sure that people have the proper guidance and incentive. Capture creative and strategic thinking, teamwork, and problem-solving metrics in order to avoid over-indexing execution and individual performance. – Bruno Guicardi, CI&T

8. INVITE ONGOING FEEDBACK FROM STAFF MEMBERS.

You must first be aware of what needs to be changed and why. A practical tip for this is to consistently invite feedback from team members on your organization’s processes. Regularly providing open, safe spaces for honest dialogue is a great way to understand what’s working and what’s not and cultivate a team that’s comfortable with a consistent cycle of assessment, adaptation, and reevaluation. – Bilal Aijazi, Polly

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9. HIRE PEOPLE WHO ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT THEY DO.

A culture of adaptability starts with a transparent hiring process. At sunday, we look for team members who are not only talented but also passionate about the restaurant industry and ready to challenge the status quo. This means adding team members who will ask the tough questions. Working in both the United States and France throughout my career has taught me to value diverse opinions. – Christine de Wendel, sunday

10. ENCOURAGE A NEW BUSINESS MINDSET.

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A great way to build a culture of adaptability is by implementing disruptive thinking. Practice new ways of looking at situations before your team faces an external challenge. This will develop their capacity for change, so they are ready to adapt. When a team is adaptable, they are clear on their capabilities and understand the landscape enough to react calmly in the face of a challenge. – Tony Martignetti, Inspired Purpose Coaching

11. FOSTER TRUST AND CREATIVITY.

Cross-functional teams are a great way to build adaptability into the culture. By exposing different perspectives, different ways of working, and different work structures, you build trust into the system and foster creative thinking in every situation. – Candice  Georgiadis, Digital Agency, Inc

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12. PROMOTE FLEXIBILITY TO KEEP THINGS FRESH.

Be constantly evolving. Introduce new training, new ideas, new methods, and processes on a regular basis. You don’t want to focus on the same old day-to-day forever, make small edits to keep things fresh and introduce new methods to mix up normal operations. This will enable your team to be more flexible, especially if it is urgently needed. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

13. HELP EMPLOYEES UNDERSTAND AND OVERCOME FEARS.

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Build resilience and fearlessness across your organization. Educate employees on how to navigate stressful situations effectively, how to understand their fears, and overcome them, since these skills will allow them to embrace evolution and be more adaptable, not only at work but in their personal lives as well. With these skills, they will become more agile, proactive, motivated, and productive. – Andreea Vanacker, SPARKX5

14. USE MULTIPLE CHANNELS TO SHARE YOUR MESSAGE.

Organizations can build a culture of adaptability by starting with systemic transparency in communication. It will help employees understand the “why,” which builds trust and increases the likelihood of a positive reaction. Your means of communication should also be omnichannel so it is repeated and can be accessed through multiple sites. – Mark Bryan, M+A Architects

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15. USE MISTAKES AS A LEARNING TOOL.

Encourage employees to take risks and learn from mistakes. This is not only a good way for employees to get the opportunity to try new things and make mistakes, but it also creates a more innovative company culture. – Kristin Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

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