Resistance often comes from employees who are left in uncertainty.
As we move into a new decade, the pace of business is only going to move faster. Disruption will extend itself into every corner of your business. The ability for employees to lead themselves through change is paramount for any business to thrive in the 21st century.
The good news is that the ability to lead oneself through change can be learned and it’s a skill all organizations should focus on to ready the entire enterprise to thrive now and into the future.
Building an organization full of employees who can successfully lead themselves through change increases the organizations likelihood to achieve results of any change they take on. This leads to a positive organizational culture of change as well as an organizational reputation for being able to take on change successfully which is critical to keep employees proactively working through these highly disruptive times.
As we move ever deeper into disruption and the rapid pace of change, the way we approach and manage change becomes ever more important. We need to start developing those muscles now. Here are our five best change management tips to future-proof your organization and prepare it for whatever may come in the 2020s.
Get clear on intent.
The first step is to have a compelling reason behind the initiative. What business challenge are you trying to resolve? Why now, as opposed to next year or last year? What will happen if you don’t change? How will the future be different once the change has occurred? Getting clear on intent ensures there is no confusion left in the minds of executives, managers, employees, or any stakeholder involved in the initiative.
Just as important as getting clear on intent is sharing every detail about the initiative, from the exciting and inspiriting elements to those that will be challenging. Many times, resistance comes from employees who are left in uncertainty. When people don’t have enough information, they tend to make things up in their heads. So communicate in a timely, transparent, and forthcoming way. Even if you have no further information to give, communicate that.
The acronym R2P2 stands for reason, role, path, and partner. Those are the four things every leader and employee must have to be able to lead themselves and others through change. It is every leader’s role to help their people find these things, and every employee’s responsibility to ensure they understand the reason for change, the role they play in it, the path to achieving it, and the partners that can help them along the way. This approach ensures shared accountability. If an employee encounters obstacles along their path, it is their responsibility to communicate that and the leader’s responsibility to help mitigate it.
Amass the right support.
Support and buy-in are critical to successful change. Choosing who to involve in the process can make or break your initiative. Think about which business units have to make and support the change and who, among their leaders, has an aptitude for being an engaged advocate for change. The leaders you choose will be the conduit to all the employees engaged in the change. Can they communicate clearly? Can they remove obstacles to change? Can they move minds? Do they have the ear of management? Having the right people—not just the obvious people—engaged throughout the process is crucial to success.
Plan for what may go wrong.
Imagine your initiative has failed. What is likely to have happened to cause that failure? Going through all the risks and challenges before you design your initiative is paramount to your resilience later on. Have you involved your employees and stakeholders in the design of the change management solution? Have you looked at places where your plan might meet resistance? Does your solution solve problems for your business, your stakeholders, and your customers? This isn’t a time to wrap your solution in wings of hope. This is a time to take a good, hard look at issues that could topple your initiative and come up with ways of mitigating those risks before you even start working.
The act of change is more than just an initiative. It’s a psychology that involves both fear and hope for the future. People fall all over the spectrum between fear and hope, and an initiative can really only move as fast as its most fearful participant. So the final note here is to realize, as a manager, that resistance is tantamount to fear. Good change leaders know how to neutralize the fear; great change leaders know how to turn fear into reward. Do you have any change management tips? Share them below.
Erica has 20 years of experience in influencing stakeholders and working collaboratively to motivate diverse groups of people. She has developed change management methodologies, built internal change management practices, and led strategic organizational transformations. She has an MS in Organizational Development and Knowledge Management from George Mason University and a BA in Social Science from Nazareth College of Rochester.
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