Monday 18 February 2019, I was working on my bachelor thesis when I suddenly got a message via LinkedIn from the owner of a secondment agency; “Hi Charlotte, I just ran into your profile and it speaks to me! I'm looking for a coordinator sustainability in the north of the country. Are you interested?”
I had to read the message twice. How did this person end up with me? I don’t have that much experience yet and my LinkedIn profile isn’t very professional in my opinion. Anyway, I had become very curious; “Of course, I am interested!”
Two months later, at the beginning of April, I was introduced to the Friesland Safety Region as a Sustainability Driver and coordinator of the internal sustainability policy. No, it was not a joke; I, Charlotte Mars, 24 years old, little experience and not even officially graduated for my bachelor’s program, was the new coordinator of the internal sustainability policy. How on earth am I going to tackle this 3-month project, which was formulated very vaguely? Nevertheless, I took up the challenge. The well-known statement of my youth heroine Pippi Longstocking became my motto; “I’ve never done it before, so I think I can do it!”
The aim of my project was to translate the sustainability ambitions of the Friesland Safety Region into an operational plan with an implementation agenda for the coming period. In addition, to establish links with all parts of the organization and to call the employees to account on their intrinsic motivation to set to work with ‘organizing differently’. This means moving away from a linear way of doing business and working towards a circular way of doing business.
This goal could be described as starting a transition and creating internal public support for innovations in the field of circular business operations. I had to achieve this in a very short period of time. I have heard more than once that this was a mission impossible. This initially frightened me but also gave me the motivation to achieve a good and strong end result and to dedicate myself for 100% to this goal.
I started by getting to know the organization. In addition, I also spent time learning about ways of managing change within an organization and how to create support among employees for the sustainability policy. In this phase I learned a lot from two specific books on system change and sustainability communication. I took the handles from the book on system change by Rotmans into my strategy. I started to have conversations throughout the organization. The aim of these conversations was to find out what the opinion and needs of employees were in the area of making the organization more sustainable, as well as to pick up existing initiatives and come up with ideas for new initiatives. By conducting these conversations, I tried to create a safe environment for employees in the context of changes towards a sustainable organization and to appeal to their intrinsic motivation.
Together with several colleagues, I set up an internal communication label called “Groen=Doen”. Literally translated; “doing green”. The purpose of this communication label is to make the sustainability policy visible within the organization and to try to emphasize urgency and necessity in a fun way. The communication label has its own logo and internal webpage. The online page is used to make actions, initiatives and themes arising from the sustainability policy known to the employees of the organization. The logo will be linked to each action from the sustainability policy and will also be made visible on location by means of flyers, stickers and other tangible material. In this way, an attempt will be made to appeal to the employees and create support for the sustainability policy. The ultimate goal is that all employees are committed to achieving the sustainability ambitions and work together towards a strong and sustainable organization.
Based on the insights gained from the conversations, the sustainability ambitions and the collaboration with colleagues in setting up the communication label, I drew up a change strategy and an implementation agenda for this strategy. In this I took into account that implementing a substantial change takes time and by forming a think tank Groen=Doen I tried to create experimental space. The goal of this think tank is that employees from the various parts of the organization can contribute to putting the sustainability ambitions within the organization into practice by taking action and thereby create a broad support base.
At the end of my project I was able to finish my assignment with a nice end result and I’m proud of what I’ve done. I am also very grateful for the opportunity the safety region has offered me and the experience I have gained in creating public support in the area of changing to a sustainable organization.
Work hard & believe in yourself
Together we will work towards a bright and
– Charlotte Mars
From this experience I learned that you can achieve anything and make impact if you yourself believe in it, work hard, are eager to learn and are not afraid to make mistakes. I think the same applies to creating public support for energy innovations.
Do you want to make a difference and create public support on energy innovations? It’s hard work, but if you believe in it yourself and you can transfer your enthusiasm on this subject to others, I’m sure you can work together towards a bright and sustainable future! If you want to know more about my experience don’t hesitate to contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org