Environmental sustainability is one of those interesting fields where being successful can make your work more challenging going forward—reducing waste gets harder and harder as you have less waste to eliminate.
Make Successes Contagious
Of course that’s the glass-half-empty way of thinking about project cycles. At Cool Choices we advocate a different approach: using past projects as a way to build momentum for future efforts.
A great thing about sustainability is that successes can be contagious.
Too often sustainability leads complete a project without leveraging the results. Sure, they might share the expected savings in a report somewhere that a few people might read, but all too often these leads quickly move on to the next challenge without really showcasing the benefits of their last effort.
Appeal to Your Audiences
The benefits come in multiple flavors. The finance folks get excited about the numbers, to be sure, but others in your organization might be jazzed about how the project influenced sales or increased employee engagement. A heating project that reduces occupant complaints about comfort increases staff productivity. A solar installation that makes the company’s commitment to sustainability more visible might affect employee recruitment and retention, as well as sales. Are you telling all those stories?
Highlighting all the ways a sustainability project benefits the company (or community) broadens support for the next project. As your efforts go deeper you’ll need support from new places—from human resources, from sales…and if you are telling sustainability stories that inspire those folks their support will be easier to get.
The stories matter externally, too. Whenever a sustainability lead tells me that she feels like her company’s efforts are stalled I suggest she find an opportunity for recognition. Nothing reinvigorates the C Suite’s sustainable commitments like accepting an award for past efforts because the recognition creates a need for more effort forward—what will we do next to get more recognition?
Both internally and externally, your quest should be to make your sustainability efforts more visible and better celebrated because it will make those efforts contagious.
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