Proactively Manage Change
Research has shown that most change initiatives fail because of a lack of proper sponsorship from those who have to manage and drive it. According to a recent MAP survey, 70% of CEOs from throughout the United States felt their strategies were the right ones, but only 10% felt these efforts were being implemented correctly. While lack of execution was identified as being one of the key reasons for why the change initiatives were failing, a close runner up was lack of support for the changes. That’s because most people tend to be resistant to change. It feels uncomfortable. Perhaps too hard. Or maybe downright unnecessary. Whatever change feels like, people struggle to embrace it, which is only natural. But change is a must in business, which as we discuss in MAP’s newly released book, The Disciplined Leader, this means that it’s part of your job to sponsor change. You’ve got to get people onboard with the right ideas or else they are going to fail, over and over again. Simply put, it’s all about a proactive versus reactive approach to managing change.
Here are some good habits to help you do this better:
Foster open lines of communication. When you have a candid workplace culture, suggestions, ideas, and solutions flow and flourish. This environment also makes it easier for you to start talking about the need for a change, why it’s necessary, and solutions you might be envisioning. When it comes time to more formally present that new direction or put the change on the table, it won’t feel like it’s something coming out of left field. It will be familiar, and that, in and of itself, will help make people feel more comfortable about whatever it is.
Listen carefully to concerns and fears. The culture of open communication and feedback won’t work if you don’t authentically honor what people are worrying about and feeling. Listening will surface resistance providing you an opportunity to manage it. Carve out a time and place when you can be available to be present and really listen. Follow up with corrective actions if necessary and let your people know you’re doing it, too! As the leader, it’s vital for you to stay connected to your people and what they’re really thinking and reacting. Fall out of touch and you can lose their support, which will undermine your efforts to drive change and do well.
Seek feedback from the team. The communication, of course, goes both ways. For example, when you ask your team to provide input on the viability of a particular change two things happen. First, that feedback provides an opportunity to mold the change into the very best option on the table. It also creates ownership on behalf of those team members who have become involved and invested. Even if they haven’t been directly weighed in but have been given the chance to do so, other team members will feel included in the process and that will further build engagement and critical buy-in. The key is to create a consistent habit around seeking feedback each and every time you suggest something new or need to roll out a change. To make the feedback successful, watch out for the common tendency to get feedback from the same team players. Strive to get different people’s input to boost the odds of developing the best solution and a healthier feedback process.
Is there ever a time when you need to implement change without feedback or input—if so, when and why?