The People Side of Organizational Change

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Hundreds of years ago, there was a group of monks in Thailand, and the monks had this huge statue of a Golden Buddha.

When they heard that there was a group of soldiers coming, they tried their best to make sure this valuable Buddha was spared.

To do that, they covered it with clay so that when the soldiers came, they didn’t notice or even realize that it was a real golden Buddha.

Unfortunately, the monks were killed. Hundreds of years later, another group of monks were attempting to move what they thought of as a clay statue, and it fell and cracked a little, and one of them saw the shining gold coming through. They discovered that it was a solid gold Buddha worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

I heard that story at a recent retreat. Then, the very next day, I attended Mass, and the deacon told the same story about that golden Buddha when referring to a unique school in the downtown area that was sort of a hidden gem that was worth so much. I had never heard this story before, but now I have heard it twice in less than 24 hours. I knew this was no coincidence. I began to reflect on why I needed to hear this story and what it could mean for me.

It then dawned on me that there is so much hidden within us. Meaning, the gold that is underneath that clay with those layers and it is all about what is within us and why we continue to hide our shine. We each need to find the light in us as individuals and our light as organizations. The key is to realize that it is people who make organizations successful, who make customers want to stay, and who ensure positive change and innovation. It is worth it, then, to spend time thinking about how to peel back the clay of your teams and organization.

Let’s delve into the 5 key things to consider when thinking about the people’s side of organizational change. These points are intended for you to understand what makes an organization stand out as a people-centered organization, especially as it evolves.

1.  Understanding the Human Element

Change often brings uncertainty and anxiety. It’s crucial for leaders to understand the human element involved. What are the fears, concerns, and aspirations of the team members? Caring leaders take the time to listen and empathize, creating an environment where everyone feels heard and valued.

2.   Communication is Key

Communication is the backbone of any successful change initiative. Caring leaders are transparent and open, keeping their teams informed throughout the process. They provide context, explain the ‘why’ behind the changes, and encourage questions. This not only reduces anxiety but fosters trust and buy-in.

3.   Inclusive Decision-making

Caring leaders recognize the importance of including their team in the decision-making process. By involving employees in the planning and execution stages, leaders not only gain valuable insights but also empower their team, making them feel a sense of ownership in the changes taking place.

Check out my recent videos on creating Culture Teams for more information about this step.

4.   Providing Support

Change can be challenging, and caring leaders understand the need for support. Whether it’s through mentorship programs, team-building activities, or providing resources for professional development, a supportive leadership approach helps employees adapt and grow during the transition.

5. Recognizing and celebrating successes

Amidst change, it’s important to celebrate small victories and acknowledge the efforts of the team. Caring leaders take the time to recognize achievements, fostering a positive atmosphere that motivates employees to continue their hard work.

As you walk away thinking about the Golden Buddhas in your environment and in your life, I hope you can use the thoughts to create different behaviors and deeper interactions that help others see their shine and allow your team and organization to reveal their own. It will never be worth it to deny the world of your greatness. We are all waiting to meet the real you and the real essence of your organization. Peel away that clay, don’t be afraid of what you might find. Dig deeper. Invite others in. And take the steps above to be the best leader you can be.


In this episode of the “Leadership with Heart” podcast, Heather R Younger shares a poignant story about a concealed Golden Buddha in Thailand, drawing parallels to the hidden potential within individuals and organizations during times of change. Reflecting on a recent retreat experience, Heather emphasizes the importance of recognizing and unlocking the intrinsic value within ourselves and our teams. The episode delves into five key considerations for navigating the people’s side of organizational change. Heather encourages leaders to peel away the metaphorical clay, revealing the brilliance within individuals and fostering a positive, motivated atmosphere for organizational growth and success.

Watch the podcast in video here

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About Heather R Younger

Heather R Younger is a highly sought-after speaker, 2x-TEDx speaker, diversity, equity and inclusion strategist, and contributor to leading news outlets. She is also the Founder and CEO of Employee Fanatix, a leading employee engagement and consulting firm. After over 25,000 employee engagement surveys and years of working with organizations to transform employee engagement, here’s what Heather has seen over and over: When you know how to listen, employees will tell you exactly what they need to bring their full selves to work. Book Heather to speak at your event or organization. Visit or for more details.

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Leadership With Heart With Heather R Younger

“Heather’s courage and vulnerability to share her authentic self are truly inspiring. She shares the most cutting-edge leadership strategies on topics like emotional intelligence and employee experience. If you’re looking to sharpen your leadership skills, this podcast is for you.”

Heather is a Workplace Culture Expert


CEO of Employee Fanatix

A leading workplace culture and employee engagement consulting & training firm.

A highly sought-after keynote speaker

Bringing the best insights from over 25,000 employee stories to the stage.

A top company culture strategist

An expert in creating spaces for these vital conversations.

A contributor to leading news outlets

A trusted expert for stories on workplace culture, customer and employee engagement, and employee retention.


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