The common reaction when we're asked to change is to bring up our two-year-old selves and squirm in resistance. And maybe spit out the pabulum too. It's human nature to stay comfortably stuck and hover in status quo. Far easier to stay there than to be exposed to risks that lie outside of where we've never been before, isn't it?
But resisting change is a death knell for you and your business. With technology morphing at light speed, evolving customer demands, competition biting at your heels, and the domino effect of economies that ebb and flow, the reality is adapt or die.
Influencing change is one of the toughest jobs on the planet. To convince someone that treading water isn't an answer, but poking the bear is, takes a special breed that can influence growth.
Those who are masters of change management are both artists and scientists. You need to be acutely attuned to what your colleagues are thinking (and feeling) to successfully execute the process.
Where do you start?
1. It Begins With You
How many leaders have you watched who jump into a new project with full skin in the game and then two weeks later things fizzled? The team is left holding the remnants of an unfinished project and puzzled by what happened.
Persuading yourself first takes a hard look in the mirror. Do you know the deep 'why' for change? Do you truly believe in the need and the impact your initiative has for all stakeholders and the big picture? Or is this a half-hearted endeavor?
You can only lead through the minefield when you wholeheartedly believe in the opportunity cost of creating the upheaval that is certain to unfold.
2. Persuading Your Team
Do your leadership team and the key players believe in the need for change?
Without buy-in from influencers, your change initiative won't gain traction. Being aware and (really) listening to their insight and reactions are key to your ability to drive the work that needs to be done.
3. Communicating With Focus and Clarity
We all can talk and communicating seems easy. It's not.
In her book Illuminate, Nancy Duarte, shares a weakness that caused her leadership to be questioned. She didn't realize the need to fully communicate her plans with her teams. Duarte made a common assumption that everyone understood the direction she was headed and how to get there. She learned she was blind to her bias and assumed everyone worked in the style she does.
You can easily become trapped in your knowledge and assume that everyone will be on board with your plans. The reality is no one can read your mind. You need to share your vision clearly with EVERYONE who is impacted...regularly and often.
4. Give Your Team Space to Do the Work
The biggest growth for you as a leader is to let go of the reins and let others do what they need to do. Give them the autonomy and license to do the work. Be there if they have questions about the direction but keep your hands off getting in the midst of executing tactics.
5. Make Sure to Check In
Giving autonomy to do the work is not to say you disappear and leave your colleagues flying solo. As the leader, your team needs to know your there. Period.
6. Adjust Your Tactics as Needed
Muckups are going to happen and mistakes will be made. I've seen the biggest growth in teams (and myself) when a problem - solution perspective is taken and blaming isn't tolerated. You'll undermine any trust you've built and your ability to influence when finger pointing and fireworks fester.
7. Don't Forget to Celebrate Successes
One of the easiest and most inexpensive (and often missed) pieces to create acceptance to disruption is recognizing when things are going well and broadcast them. Reflecting on what's working takes little time and it's as simple as noticing what's going well to making a difference to your team's success.
8. Rinse and Repeat
Change and the ability to drive it is constant and on a continuum. You grow. Your team grows. With enough momentum and your persuasive abilities, the change you want to create will be on a clear path to take hold.
Be the artist and the scientist.
It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change. --Charles Darwin