Three Steps to Managing Change in the Workplace
Great leaders never stop learning and never stop growing in terms of their professional and personal development. In fact, the best leaders make it a habit to seek out opportunities to constantly improve and even thrive off this aspect of self-discipline. Why? Because other motivators aside, it brings them joy, or that incredible sense of satisfaction in knowing that they are working and moving toward their potential. Yet although the kind of change that results in such growth and achievement can be rewarding, it is rarely easy and this can make it difficult to appreciate the path to becoming a better leader. In fact, as discussed in MAP’s book, “The Disciplined Leader,” when change feels tough, it can seem as if we’re losing control. We may even doubt ourselves and our ability to succeed. But there are always things we can do to manage change with more grace and tact. It starts with recognizing the struggle in the first place, then course-correcting when you’re out of alignment with your goal and also getting the resources needed to make the change easier and your odds of success more likely.
Here are three steps to make change easier and more possible:
- Identify what’s making the change so tough. You can’t tackle the challenges that crop up if you don’t look them square in the face and see them for what they are. For instance, there may be some external factors hindering your ability to create a desired change or there may be internal factors making it really hard. For instance, you may find that you are in your own way, undermining your own transformation because of certain beliefs, habits or activities that only you alone truly own. If you’re struggling to succeed with your desire to change, take some time out to write out what’s preventing your goal achievement. If you aren’t sure, get the guidance of a mentor or trusted confident to help you identify the roadblocks to change.
- Change for alignment, then course-correct if necessary. Every change you make will have certain mindsets and behaviors that will support the change or prevent it. So the litmus test is a simple one: Does the activity you’re doing or mindset you own align with your goal? If it does, great—continue on! But if it does not, then you need to alter your activities and/or mindset. In “The Disciplined Leader,” I discuss this, sharing how when I was young, I struggled to pass a swim test not because I couldn’t do it but because I never fully committed to doing it. This lack of commitment was keeping me from achieving my goal. Once I made the personal commitment, this created greater focus around what I was doing and I passed the test. But for that to happen, I had to make a smaller, yet vital change in my thinking and in my heart. I had to get onboard with the fact that I wanted to commit to passing the test. This newfound willingness was this necessary shift in mindset that supported and helped me achieve greater change and the ultimate goal.
- Get the help you need to boost your odds of making change happen. There are many ways to support goals around change but one surefire tactic to make this effort more doable is to get resources to do it. Resources can differ dramatically, depending on what’s needed. For example, you may need funding or more time, which may require creativity on your part, whether it’s securing more dollars from investors or carving out extra hours through better time-management. Resources could also be more “people,” for example, delegating responsibilities to your direct reports who can facilitate the change or perhaps hiring a coach who can instruct you on how to make the change happen better, faster, easier, etc. Whether you’re in the midst of a change or preparing for it, determine what resources you’ll need, keeping in mind that getting help is perfectly OK. Even the greatest leaders know they can’t do everything on their own and real change often means involving others to help make it happen and stick for good.
When you feel you don’t have the resources to make change happen, what can you do?