Workplaces need at least a few employees who are prepared to leave their comfort zones and become change leaders. It does not matter whether or not they hold formal positions in the management structure of the organization. They can be effective change agents at any level in the organization. The recommendations given in this piece hold true for those who want to make a positive difference at work in any sphere of job activity; from education or any other service to manufacturing, and beyond.
Top managers generally welcome staff members or employees who are willing to assume the additional responsibility of organizational improvement, since they make the managers’ jobs that much easier and contribute to harmonious relationships and improved teamwork throughout the institution. Those who make a difference at work will give praise or constructive criticism to their peers, superiors or subordinates as necessary, in a non-threatening and non-judgmental way and will propose new ideas to solve specific problems.
To make a difference at work you have to be credible. You have to lead by example. You cannot preach one thing and do the opposite. Nobody will take you seriously if you make that fundamental mistake. You must also be consistent in your words and actions at all times and not blow hot and cold at different times. As Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” You must embody it and model it for your fellow workers.
You must be very competent in your work performance. Co-workers will respect your demonstrated ability and will look to you for guidance. This gives you the opportunity to serve as a mentor or coach to many of them, helping them to improve their knowledge, skills and attitudes on the job. This leads to higher levels of productivity, job satisfaction and harmony in the workplace. The work environment and culture will change positively.
Be fully committed to the task. Know your strengths and your weaknesses. Capitalize on your strengths and work on improving your weaknesses. Value the efforts and contribution of your workmates and place your strengths at their service and that of the organization. You must develop an appetite for hard work.
To be a catalyst for positive change you must be cognizant of the mission, vision, values, processes and goals of the organization. Support your superiors, giving constructive criticism when necessary, and buying into organizational strategy and policy. Stay away from negativity, gossip and subversive workplace politics. Focus on issues, not on personalities. Promote social activities and cohesion among the staff.
Be guided by what is best for the organization, its servants and clients. Always ask yourself the question “What can I do to improve this organization?” Take the initiative, act on the ideas that flow from this question and you will make a difference at work.