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Don’t Forget the Salt

Who’s heard of Danny Meyer?

No, he is not an organizational change management (OCM) scholar or world-class practitioner. He is a restauranteur, responsible for top restaurants such as Gramercy Tavern and nationwide favorite, Shake Shack.

He also happens to be the author of one of my favorite books, “Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business”. From the outset, it may seem hard to connect the dots between hospitality and organizational change management, but I can speak from experience that, in fact, there are many parallels.

I previously worked as a manager for a fast-growing restaurant group — part of my role focused on opening new restaurants across the country and training staff. Change was the only constant and Danny Meyer’s book introduced some fundamental philosophies that provided an enlightened view on how to effectively manage and handle change regardless of organization type:

Understand what your product is and who your customers are.  

Find a coalition of ambassadors for your business.

And my personal favorite:

Build an approach of constant, gentle pressure.

Constant. As outside forces attempt to move that shaker, you must always place it back in the center.

Gentle. Every time you recenter the salt, it should be kind and dignified.

Pressure. Be prepared to never stop moving every single saltshaker on every single table in the restaurant back to the center.

Organizational change management practitioners apply constant, gentle pressure to help employees and customers reposition the salt back to the center when it is moved:

Coaching. OCM teams can coach leaders during a large change. We can help leaders focus on and understand what their center is to identify the goals, vision, and success metrics for any change project, as well as the vision beyond the change.

Resistors to change and project risks. While the leader understands the vision and the values of the change initiative, there will always be outside forces looking to resist or go off-track. OCM identifies these outside forces and provides the strategic support necessary to help constantly, and gently, move the salt back in place to align with the center.

Communication. As Meyer says in his book, “Understanding who needs to know what, when people need to know it, and why… is the key to applying constant, gentle pressure.” OCM practitioners understand how critical the right communication is for your change project. Helping employees understand why a change is happening is the key to a successful change strategy and will keep the saltshaker in its rightful spot.

For many leaders, remaining focused on goals during a transformation can be a great challenge. Urgent or unanticipated risks can threaten success. And, in the process, leaders may lose sight of where the salt belongs, or it’s forgotten all together.

The Avaap Change Approach includes these core tenets: leadership coaching, resistance, and communication planning; as well as many other multi-faced engagements and change drivers to help leaders set their center and remain focused on what really matters on their path towards success.

Want to learn more about building and leveraging these tenets in your organization? Get in touch!

Whitney Flight is an experienced organizational change management senior consultant with 15 years working in a variety of roles focused on organizational change, communications, and human resources. Currently, Whitney has five years exclusive experience as a senior change management professional for data analytics projects, including technology implementations and ongoing technology change sustainment. Certifications include Avaap Change Lead and Prosci. Whitney received a Master of Human Resource Management from Ohio State University.