I have always felt that one of the most important characteristics a leader can have is that of being a change embracer. A person who not only anticipates change, but looks forward to it, will always have a distinct advantage over people who hate change.
Change is inevitable, it is always going to happen ,so you might as well get used to it and look forward to it with an open mind.
In fact, a true leader will most certainly be the impetus of causing change for the better. Which is certainly one of the most difficult aspects of being a great leader.
As we enter (hopefully) this post-pandemic era we are going to be buffeted with changes. From working remotely, to labor shortages, to price increases, to supply chain interruptions, we are facing what would normally be a lifetime of changes in just a few months.
With this in mind I have been on the lookout for any advice I could find about how to properly and effectively change. After reading several new books on leadership, I came across this gem of a book titled From Bud to Boss by Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris, where I came across one of the best lists of specific steps to implement and communicate change.
Here are those twelve steps right from that book:
- “Sell” Individuals: To sell change requires one-on-one, personal conversations. People choose to change based on their perceptions. Help them to see your vision and understand the steps to be taken. This requires good conversation.
- Help people take ownership: we have to encourage people to find their own vision and also their personal benefits from this change in direction.
- Let your people in on your process: Keep communicating with your team all the way through the change process. Let them witness and be part of the change process.
- Call it a journey: This is especially true if the change is big and complex with many phases and steps. Help your people understand the process and that it will take time and patience. Let them know that they will have time to learn, adapt and adjust.
- Ask questions: Use questions to open others up and get them talking about these changes. Their feedback is very valuable. Ask them questions to learn what they are thinking and also what their attitude about change is while the change is happening. Check in with them periodically along the change journey.
- Sell small and build a new status quo: Help your people make small changes. Advance the status quo a little bit at a time. This approach is the best way to help and guide people through the change journey. It also gets them on board with fully dedicated buy in.
- Give it words: Create a mission with slogans. The better the slogan the more people on your team will be motivated and inspired to move forward in alignment with the entire team.
- Celebrate progress: Create celebrations for accomplishments. Celebrate progress. Make sure to celebrate accordingly to the importance of the progress made. This keeps your team encouraged and engaged and motivates them through the next change phases.
- Take responsibility: As a leader you have the ultimate responsibility of pushing the change project forward. The old adage “the buck stops here” has never been more accurate. You, as the leader, have the ultimate responsibility for the success of changing and improving the organization.
- Speak with people not to them: As in all communications, make sure you take part in dialogues not monologues. A good conversation is always two-way. Engage your people in open ended conversations. And as always be respectful. No one responds well to declarations and statements.
- Discuss the “Why” of the changes: People want to know why you are implementing changes. They need to have a good, clear, and concise vision of the end game. Create a vision of where the company will be once the changes have been implemented. This is actually the most important aspect of having a successful change project. Remember you need to know where you are going if you plan on getting there.
- And finally show them “What’s in it for them? As their leader and the person who wants to motivate them you need to show them what’s in it for them. They need to understand precisely how they are going to benefit directly from these changes.
If you follow all of these guidelines with honesty and sincerity you will not only succeed in implementing these critical changes, but you will succeed in creating a great team. There is nothing better for team building than taking your team through a difficult and challenging project. If you do this correctly you will create the best team possible. It’s only common sense.