The New Year is a time to think about changes. But, change is always a part of being alive. There’s no escaping it. In the time it takes you to read this sentence, something changed inside you and in the world around you.
Some people resist change. Others are unsure how to manage it. Over the next few weeks we will post some tips on change and change management.
Many people say that change is constant. But a constant is something that doesn’t change. It is more helpful to say, change is continual.
Saying change is continual highlights two important points. One, it is always happening. Two, what happens now is connected to, continual with, what happened before and what will happen later.
For example, the pandemic has brought huge changes to the world. Some changes were happening before and now are accelerated. Some are new changes. And some changes are being formed right now in the midst of the pandemic and will not be apparent until the future.
Those who resist change think of it as one and done — ok I adapted to that, now I can get back to what I was doing. Think again. Change is continual.
People resist change because they don’t understand why it is happening. Ok, fine, so change is continual. But why does this particular change have to happen now? Why adopt a new procedure when we already have one that works? Why buy and learn to use new equipment? Isn’t it less expensive to keep things the same?
People resist change because they don’t understand why it is needed. If you are leading a change process, you must Share the Why. Explain why the change is happening now and what it means for everyone. You don’t need to give a lot of detail but you have to make your case for the change. If you can’t make your case then maybe this isn’t the change you should be leading.
For example, you might explain that the team needs different technology because people are sending and storing larger files than in the past. Without technology that can handle this data, others will have a competitive advantage. You might explain that a new policy or procedure is needed because the workforce is more diverse or more spread-out. Without these new tools, work responsibilities will be misunderstood or not communicated at all.
As you Share the Why you are also showing the importance of change. But, that is something we will get to in the next Message.
People are more willing to make changes when they sense the urgency of change.
Explain what might happen if the change is not made. “Let’s suppose we don’t make this change. Let’s talk about some of the problems that will follow.”
Create a scenario specific to your work. “If we don’t implement this new technology then our competitors will have an upper hand. We’ll miss out on other opportunities.”
Or a general scenario. “Suppose you are driving home. You see storm clouds ahead. You know that the road you are on floods in heavy rain. You think you have about 30 minutes before the rain begins. What can you do to prepare?”
Doing this helps people develop a mindset to take action for change.
The pandemic, again, provides an example. Which businesses (and governments) have responded best to the pandemic? Which have not?
Successful businesses recognized the urgency of change, adjusted their business processes and carried on. Those who did not are seeing the bad results and trying to play catch-up.
Everyone does not accept change at the same rate or in the same way. Innovators and Early Adopters try out new things as soon as they are available. And Laggards resist the innovation until there is no alternative. You will have people across the whole spectrum in your group or organization.
So, to make change happen and to sustain it you need people who will speak out for the change and demonstrate its value. These are your Change Champions.
Most leaders know who among their team members is most likely to join in a change process. (If you don’t know, then you need to learn more about your team and that’s a different issue.) You can also ask for volunteers.
Partner with these individuals. Teach them more about the change. Support them in their implementation of it. Listen to their feedback. Once they have accepted the change, they can share their acceptance and enthusiasm with their peers.
Change Champions can also be back channels for you as a leader to hear about the concerns raised by other members. With this information you can adapt to these concerns and make the change even more successful.
Do you have any change management challenges? Please share them in the comment box and we’ll help you find solutions to them.
Look out for the part 2 of this article coming soon. Follow us on Facebook via www.facebook.com/ReidSachsLLC for more updates.
Photo by Trevin Rudy on Unsplash