Sustain Change Initiatives for Long-term Impact with These 4 Elements

December 11, 2023

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When implementing any change initiative within a mining organization, a certain amount of resistance is to be expected. New ways of working often trigger certain anxieties for employees, who may have already grown accustomed to established norms, systems, and daily routines.  

For any change or transformation project to go the distance and create a lasting impact on an organization, there are a few steps management can take to ensure that employees are fully onboard, that change is sustained, and processes are continuously improved over the long term.   

Secure employee buy-in by creating a sense of ownership 

When poorly executed, change initiatives can remain in the planning and ideation phase as blueprints indefinitely, never effectively getting rolled out to all employees, contractors and departments.  

“If you ask me what behavioral element is crucial for continuous improvement, it would be empowering employees with a sense of ownership. Once a client, department or employee gains a sense of ownership over a project, the likelihood of change moving forward is significantly increased.” explains Brian Witherspoon, Managing Director of Unison Mining Consulting.  

By giving teams the power and responsibility to execute change within their everyday routines and diverse scopes of work, transformation projects go from being far-off, nebulous roadmaps to tangible new ways of working that are effectively embedded in their daily routines and tasks. As such, a crucial step in any change initiative is to translate large overarching strategies into systems, processes and KPIs at all organizational levels for implementation success. 

Engage employees across departments and integrate feedback early on 

By engaging employees across departments in the planning phase of a transformation project, stakeholders can air any concerns, present feedback, and fine-tune proposed changes to ensure effectiveness throughout the project. When executives and leadership from relevant departments are given a receptive setting such as an interdepartmental workshop, the cross-pollination of ideas, concerns and feedback can illuminate how management can best proceed with the initiative – ensuring potential risks are averted and addressed as early as possible.  

“When you bring in both Operations and Maintenance into the same workshop to share their ideas, it may be a bit combative in the beginning. However, teams then have the opportunity to share their concerns and thoughts freely, and management can properly address them – whether through actions or better communication,” says Steve Peacock, Managing Partner of Unison Mining.   

Within these workshops, the opportunity to convey the potential benefits of new ways of working can be communicated to all departments more directly. Once employees better understand and can visualize what change looks like and their roles within that change, the odds of a transformation project’s success increases.  

Training and coaching to reinforce new ways of working 

Without strong training programs to equip employees with the skills needed to transition to new processes, change initiatives often face roadblocks and progress comes to a standstill.  

“One of the most important things we do is build fit-for-purpose training programs. However, the key to change is real-world coaching that creates the bridge between the academic training and the application of the training in their areas. It’s crucial that employees do not simply display their classroom certificates but also their adoption and ownership of the new techniques and behaviors,” explains Peacock.  

He elaborates on the Unison Mining approach, which differentiates itself in the mining consulting industry by not limiting training and coaching to frontline supervisors, but extends its focus to General Managers, Area Managers and Superintendents, who are then tasked with continuing the coaching process beyond a project’s closeout.  

 “It’s not just about the new ways of working, but also the behaviors that drive them and what these processes mean for each employee within their different roles. With subject matter experts who have extensive on-site experience in the field carrying out this training, the effectiveness of skills program is multiplied,” Witherspoon adds.  

A flexible and self-calibrating approach to change management governance 

Another potential hurdle often faced by mining organizations in transformation projects would be the absence of strong governance to execute and steer the project through to completion. With the complexity and interconnectedness of mining operations, logical sequencing of change initiatives carried out can also have an impact on their success and sustainability.  

“Let’s say you have 8 ongoing initiatives management wants to execute, but it’s the same five executives working on all of them. One of them may cross the finish line, but it’s a moot point because the other 7 may never get anywhere,” Peacock adds.  

In tackling change initiative projects, it is important that staff assigned to Task Teams do not get burnt out or lose momentum. Progress tracking through regular meetings and clearly defined metrics are essential to ensure the project stays on track.  

However, with longer transformation projects, the importance of a certain level of flexibility cannot be understated. When resources are unavailable, whether that be time or manpower, reprioritization and moving resources around according to availability is the key to preventing burnout and loss of motivation on Task Teams. 

Witherspoon shares: “At Unison, we’re able to shoulder some of the workload for our clients with the right amount of flexibility to prevent burnout whilst ensuring everything gets done. When we see that resources are lacking, we provide the tools for issue escalation to resolve it quickly, ensuring timelines don’t start to slip.” 


By fostering ownership amongst employees, feedback mechanisms, effective skills programs, and the right amount of flexibility in governance, change initiatives can be successfully rolled down to every organizational level for lasting, sustainable impact.  

To learn more about Unison Mining’s behavior-focused approach to sustainable change management, we welcome you to get in touch directly with our team. 

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