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Against a backdrop of emerging technologies, evolving customer behaviours and uncertain economic markets, today’s organisations are required to make profound changes to their strategy, business model, people and processes.  

 Despite change being a necessity for success and growth, many transformation projects fail to deliver. A key reason comes down to companies placing too much focus on the end result and not enough on the capabilities required to reach their desired goal and stay there.  

As discussed in a previous blog, capability refers to the skills and knowledge an organisation needs to get to where they need to be. It means having the right people in the right roles to execute any required change and improve overall business performance.  

A recent survey of 1,200 business people around the globe revealed that 80% view capability building as very or extremely important to their organisations’ long-term growth, compared with 59% who said this was true before the pandemic.  

With more organisations realising the value of capability building, how can they successfully identify and develop the capabilities they need to generate lasting change through a transformation? In this blog, we explore some of the key practices that will help organisations effectively build capabilities. 


1. Prioritise 

It’s imperative to fully understand the goals of the transformation and identify the specific capabilities that will enable you to deliver it. This exercise is about selecting and prioritising the capabilities that will generate the greatest value. All too often, companies attempt to build too many capabilities at once, which can see resources spread too thinly and projects stalling.  

While prioritisation will differ depending on the project and the organisation, they can be measured against two key criteria:  

  • The importance of the capability to your strategy  
  • How difficult it will be to implement.  

Capabilities crucial to delivering your strategy that are easy to implement should take priority. It’s not to say that others should be pushed to one side, but those require additional time, resources and commitment. It might be the case that you bring in external expertise to facilitate this part of the transformation programme. 


 2. Involve leaders in the process 

When senior leaders role model the behaviour changes they’re asking employees to make, transformations are 5.3 times more likely to succeed. Despite this, only 43% of leaders said they invested time in transformation initiatives. 

 It’s crucial that senior leaders in your organisation understand the capabilities required and the process needed to develop them and set an example by modelling the desired change. 

Implementing change across an organisation requires employee trust and buy-in. By changing their behaviours and setting an example, senior leaders are in the ideal position to gain trust, build capabilities, and ultimately execute the transformation. For this approach to succeed, leaders must invest the appropriate time and energy throughout the transformation. 


3. Invest in employee engagement 

As well as a senior leadership team leading a change initiative, efforts must be made to ensure employees across the organisation are on board and engaged throughout. It’s common during a transformation that employees can feel under pressure or even sceptical at the prospect of capability building. 

 The goal of any transformation is to change the behaviour of employees and managers so you can transition to a new and more effective way of working. The adage of ‘winning hearts and minds’ is especially pertinent and is why any capacity building exercise should be effectively communicated from the outset, with all of the reasons behind it clearly explained. Where possible, employees should be allowed to provide feedback and raise any concerns throughout to reinforce the critical role they play in your organisation. 

 The process should be as practical as possible and align with employees’ daily work and responsibilities, rather than presented as an abstract idea. A capability-building initiative grounded in the work employees perform and runs parallel to the business agenda for change will go a long way in helping employees feel in the know, supported, and like they are contributing. All of which will help to deliver real, long-term changes in behaviour. 


4. Stay on course

A capability building process isn’t over until the change becomes permanent across your organisation. It means that the initiative needs to continue, either in its current guise or adapted and improved, until it is ingrained and becomes second nature for employees.  

Processes should be continuously measured and evaluated to ensure they are working, with adjustments made where necessary. Such an agile approach requires companies to set clear goals, KPIs, and milestones to ensure that any changes don’t derail you from achieving your end goal.  


Connect with the people who power change 

Omni Search combines extensive industry knowledge and expert consultancy to help organisations find permanent or interim leaders who facilitate people and process change. 

 Our team aligns with the unique strategy and goals of your business to gain an in-depth understanding of your organisation design, internal culture and change management requirements. From our extensive network, Omni Search secures the experts you need to transform your organisation and place you on the road to long-term success. 

Click here to learn more about Omni Search and what we can do for you, or contact Ben Fitzgerald on 07890 609 734 or email ben.fitzgerald@omnirms.com.