The key is to remember that people aren’t robots.
This may seem like a trite phrase but organizations often forget, as they proceed at high speed to implement big changes (and small ones too), that people cannot be programmed to accept a change. They need to embrace change and be brought on board — a process that takes time and effort.
“But we’re paying them to do their job? They should just do it!”
Right. And kids will just clean their rooms because you tell them to. Unless you want to be labeled the ‘Chief Executive of Fantasy Land’, you need to think through changes that you want to bring to a team, or an organization as a whole, before you run headlong into it.
You need a change management process.
Before you make a change, understand the ramifications fully
Whatever change you want to make, whether it’s the addition of technology or a change in business structure, you need to understand the effects this change will have.
Look at it from the point of view of the person who is going to have to deal with the results of the change. How can you communicate the changes in such a way as they see it as a short-term learning curve that creates a long-term benefit?
- Involve the people who will be affected. If you’re thinking about buying new software, for example, include key members of the team in the evaluation process. This will help ensure that it, in fact, does meet their needs. Just dumping it on them without consultation won’t get you the buy-in you’re looking for.
- Ensure you have the support you need for change from the highest levels. If the CEO doesn’t support and even promote the change, there’s little chance that downstream team members will get on board easily.
- Look at the possible effects on customers and outside parties. Why? Because your team will be dealing with whatever negative effects might occur, at least in the short term, they are prepared. As the saying goes: forewarned is forearmed.
Involve your team in the changes
Change management is a process meant to ease your team into changes being made. It’s not about moving them into a new environment without warning. This can be difficult for a lot of people, especially longer-term employees who are used to doing things a certain way.
Change management can help you to not only make the evolution less tension-filled but, in fact, can help your team not only accept the change but in fact embrace it.
How can you get that buy-in? You can do this by involving them and:
- Listening to their concerns
- Dealing with the issues that your team is worried about
- Creating an environment where communication can take place openly and without judgment
Figuring out how to make the changes resonate with your team is the key to any change management process. Even with the best of intentions and communication, you’re likely to end up with three groups in your team. You will have team members who will:
- Embrace the change
- Go along, but not enthusiastically
- Oppose the change
Realistically, unless your team is super cohesive and coordinated, you’ll find the bulk of people in the middle group, with a few at either of the two extremes.
Those who embrace the change can help be your biggest advocates. And, those who resist it can really throw a wrench into the process. So, you need to take the time to find out what their concerns are and why they are resisting. Then, focus on what you can do to help ease the transition for them.
Creating comfort in the process is a huge part of getting people to accept, if not embrace, the changes.
Ultimately, you can’t ram in change and expect it to work. Take it slowly, perhaps incrementally so that your team can get used to things. That way, they may come to see the change as a positive enhancement, rather than something to be endured.
As they come on board, continue with the evolution you have in mind. And, be sure to limit disruption, tension and fear.
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