Home' Inclean : INCLEAN Jul-Aug 2016 Contents 46 INCLEAN July/August 2016
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By Bridget Gardner*
Picture this. A group of managers and
supervisors are sitting around a table in
a Monday morning meeting. In front of
them are flyers of a new and expensive
innovation that their manager has bought
and wants them to use.
“It says that it’s environmentally friendly
and saves water, packaging waste and
money,” one of them reads aloud. “Probably
won’t work then,” another grumbles and
they all laugh. So the item is duly delivered to site with a training
session by the supplier. A year later, this shiny new toy is broken and
abandoned and it seems that Mr Grumpy was right all along.
No one knows whether it failed due to human error, a mechanical
fault, or that it simply wasn’t fit for purpose, because the original
crew has long gone and the manager was too busy to investigate.
Did it save water, waste and money? No one knows that either,
because no one was counting. The next strategy that management
wants to implement is doomed to fail as well, because resistance and
cynicism have set in like rot.
Sound familiar? This scenario applies to any number of
sustainability strategies, such as switching to certified chemicals,
efficiency practices or new monitoring systems.
How teamwork makes sustainability work
In the journal Marketing, director of digital for Victoria’s
department of Premier and Cabinet, Jithma Beneragama, says;
“change is very much about people. Once you get the people right,
in terms of mindset and whatever else you need, then the delivery
of it should be easier”. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, the main
reason innovations fail, is that the human element hasn’t been
taken into account.
The common wisdom is that the less people involved in executing
change, the faster and less problematic it will be. In my experience,
involving a team of personnel from across the organisation to
introduce sustainable innovations actually improves the chance of
success and maximises the return on investment in the long run. This
article describes five roles that make up a sustainability team.
The way to change people’s mindsets starts at the top – by setting
clear objectives, nominating the team, and taking an active interest
in the project. Motivate the team by drawing links between the
success of the strategy, and the value (and security) of their job. Most
people want to feel proud about their work.
The accounts department
Talking about budgets leads us to the accounts team, who can
analyse the long-term cost effectiveness. Accounting software or
cleaning suppliers should allow you to nominate which inputs and
expenses need to be tracked. This also helps to substantiate ‘green’
claims, in line with the Consumer Act 2010.
Compliance and HR
Engagement with compliance and human resources managers will
vary depending on the organisation’s size and sector. If you work in
a tightly controlled sector such as Healthcare or defence, I don’t have
to explain the importance of their involvement when investigating
and trialling a new initiative.
Involving the compliance/HR manager in the initial trial, ensures
that if successful, it can be standardised and embedded into
procedures and training manuals across the organisation.
Those responsible for growing the business and communicating
with the public/clients should identify the main areas of concern, so
that the most applicable sustainable outcomes can be measured and
promoted. This is as valuable for addressing resistance and selling
the new strategy internally, as it is externally. Everyone wants to
back a winner.
The operations team
It goes without saying that buy-in from the team on the ground
is critical, but resistance to change is inevitable - especially when
already under pressure. To counter this, reinforce the importance
of their role with extra time and management support to test the
innovation’s efficiency and effectiveness. Take before and after
photos for evidence and promotional purposes, and celebrate the
results with the whole team at the end.
*Bridget Gardner is director of Fresh Green Clean,
Changing staff’s mindset to maximise
investment in sustainable innovation
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