Over the years, I’ve been involved in many Change Management Programmes and supported all different types of Leaders, some better at fronting change than others. A new client, who I am helping to build a high performing organisation, asked me which factors would result in a successful transformation programme. While not wanting to over simplify what can be a very complex and challenging process for your business, I reckon there are just 4 areas that make the difference between effective and ineffective change.
I always begin by asking my clients, what is your reason for change? Logic for change should be robust enough to get support from business leaders or shareholders and equally, the people who will implement the plan must believe in it. Preparation is all in leading change, so I encourage clients to think about all of the risks, opportunities and any barriers they may encounter along the route, and to do that well in advance. Collate facts and data to develop an initial plan. This plan will help convince stakeholders of how the proposed change can improve the business.
Facts and figures alone will not convince the team of the need for change. It will be your passion that will encourage, engage and stir people to support change, so combine the two. Show a clear appetite and desire to defeat the challenges that face the company.
Hand on heart, I can say the Leaders that I’ve seen make the most successful business transformation have exuded “bucket loads” of belief that the changes will make things better and have enthusiastically shared that vision with staff. On the other hand, I’ve seen Leaders who didn’t really believe in the proposed change and neither did their staff!
Get ready for initial shock. It’s only natural that employees might want things to stay as they are; change does frighten some people. Be patient and you will begin to see the signs of some employees working out how they can make the proposed change work for them and the business. That’s the point that you should harness their motivation and encourage them to become advocates for the improvements to the business that you are planning.
Other staff may take much longer to think through the impact of your proposal. I encourage clients to communicate the reason that things need to change, time and time again. It’s also crucial to listen to your employees concerns, answer their questions and understand their anxieties. Don’t force change through. Patience is a virtue at this stage.
But, there will always be a few who just don’t get it. Sometimes you have to live with that.
As a leader you will need all the resilience you can muster as well as some straightforward HR and Change advice and guidance to ensure that you stay on your toes throughout the programme.
Finally, be adaptable during the process. Feedback may lead you to alter certain proposals. As Darwin said, “it’s not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, it is the one most adaptable to change”.
Article first published in http://www.thechangedirectors.co.uk/Pages/Leading-Change.aspx