The pandemic was one of the most impactful world events in recent history. People had to stay inside and couldn’t work; businesses closed and couldn’t make money; the world had to learn a new way of working. Since then, it feels like all we talk about is change and how to cope with it for fear of another blindsiding, world-changing event beyond our power to affect.
But then, why are we still so unprepared to deal with change?
One recent report by WalkMe, a digital adoption platform, indicated that only 34% change initiatives succeed. That’s barely one out of every three. And unfortunately, because of the pandemic – and because this is just the world we live in – our organizations must continue to launch change efforts all year round.
Are you prepared to fail ⅔ of those efforts? Waste ⅔ of those resources? Frustrate and disappoint your team members ⅔ of the time?
If you are taking the time to read this email, I can’t imagine that you are!
So then, consider this email your at-a-glance guide for leading through change.
Why focus on change?
It often feels like there are many things leaders must be focused on… morale, engagement, relationship-building, communication, growth and development, and of course, results – among many other things. What reason do we have to focus on change above these other elements?
As leaders, we must prioritize the things that impact everything else – and successful change management is one of those things. Organizations that adapt to market changes stay ahead of the curve and possess a competitive advantage. A positive, proactive relationship with change can invite innovation. And when employees see that you echo their concerns about change and are prepared to ease them, they feel seen – which inspires them to lean into the effort and their role.
Plus, one Forbes study found that 31% of CEOs are fired for poor change management! (So, here’s another reason: job security!)
What does change look like?
American television host Fred Rogers raised a generation of kids with his wholesome advice. On change, he said, “Transitions are almost always a sign of growth, but they can bring feelings of loss. To get somewhere new, we may have to leave somewhere behind.”
That’s true of any change, whether we are moving house, having a child, or simply implementing a new method of tracking leads!
Any major change effort involves three phases, or elements:
- The concluding, where the focus is on the ending of the old. People’s attachment to the familiar is a powerful thing. Even small things must be mourned.
- The neutral zone, in between the old and the new. Here, people are uncertain. Having let go of the old and not yet become attached to the new, they struggle to make sense of the lack of structure.
- The beginning, where the new is implemented. New is different, but new can also be exciting if leadership is open and authentic about the need, the plan, and the action.
How can leaders successfully manage change?
We’ve discussed the need to manage change well. We’ve looked at the parts of change. Now, we come to the difficult part: doing something about it.
One Oak Change Report identified the greatest cause of resistance to change: lack of trust in leadership. Working forward from there, it must be our goal to foster that trust. We can do this by…
- Communicating clearly: proactively and thoroughly informing your team about the purpose and method of the change is crucial – one McKinsey report found that change efforts were more than 6 times more likely to succeed when “senior leaders share[ed] aligned messages about the change effort with the rest of the organization.”
- Empathizing with team members: people begin to trust that we have their best interest at heart when we mirror their concerns – and even more so when we anticipate them. Know your team, know what about the change may be bothering who, reflect those concerns, and address them.
- Involving employees: drawing your team members in will not just help them see themselves as part of the force for the change effort, but it will also convey that you trust them – and even need them – to effect change.
- Providing training: your team knows what you value by what you invest in. What you provide them training and resources to support the change effort, they know you are not leaving them to figure out the “new normal” on their own.
- Celebrating milestones: taking time to appreciate progress helps team members recognize that the effort toward change is yielding results.
Of course, all I am able to provide you in one email is a quick, at-a-glance guide to change management. If you embrace the “why” and apply the “what” and “how” to your “who,” you will see your change efforts far exceed the statistics!
But keep one thing in mind…
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to change management. If you are looking for a tailored solution, I can help – schedule a strategy call here and we will discover your best solution together.
Become your best version,
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