- The pandemic has increased momentum for sustainability initiatives, according to half of executive leaders.
- Nevertheless, they often encounter strategic obstacles and employee resistance.
- Communicators can effectively facilitate change.
After COP26, CEOs are being asked to integrate the global green agenda into their strategic priorities. Gartner research found that about half of chief executives who lead sustainability initiatives reported the pandemic was driving environmental change. What should be done?
- What is the best way executive leaders can lead companies towards net-zero goals?
- Are there any strategies they can use to change employees’ mindsets?
1. Recognize the tensions between cultures
Employees need to make difficult choices. For example, imagine employees at a Formula 1 car manufacturing company who will not only be asked, “What can we do to improve this car?” as well as “What is the CEO’s green plan?” In this case – and many others – employees are left to wrestle with the chasm between their commercial goals and sustainability initiatives.
2. Train employees to make better judgments
As soon as you acknowledge that cultural tensions exist, you can help employees resolve them. As judgment is the single biggest driver of performance during times of strategic change, it’s imperative that employees improve their judgment skills during these seemingly contradictory situations, so they know what decision will support the company’s goals. We can maximize performance by doing this and minimize the financial impact of change-related stress.
3. Find out why your naysayers aren’t engaging with you
A lack of employee “belief” in achieving net-zero is one of the most difficult aspects of implementing this strategy. Consider identifying and resolving other critical drivers of behavior instead of concentrating solely on changing attitudes. If you do this, your messaging will be relevant and targeted.
4. Offer leaders a platform for discussing social impact strategies
It’s important for leaders to have open discussions about the new strategy in which they explore their skepticism, but also discuss what the benefits may be, and how their teams could benefit from it. The net-zero strategy can be cascaded and contextualized so employees feel more comfortable with it. Lead managers through a workshop that prepares them for deliberations on upcoming changes and helps them to prepare for discussions with their teams about these changes.
There is a price to pay for the cultural tensions that arise. Research shows that the stress they cause can have a significant impact on employee performance – and cost the company financially.
It is the responsibility of all companies to invest in solutions to protect the planet and the economy. The carbon footprint of their operations, and the carbon intensity of their operations, will be further reduced by all companies – including Amazon. Climate action is right, but it can also spur innovation that benefits businesses and their customers.