Change, by the very definition is not easy for most people. Yet, every organization needs to be in constant change or the market will leave them behind. So what is best way to lead change in your office?
First, spend more time than you think necessary on planning your change. Work hard on your messages to introduce the change, how it will impact the organization and employees directly, and what it looks like when the change effort is done. The major barriers to successful change are; fear of change, ignorance, uncertainty about the future and lack of imagination. YOU as the leader will need to address all of those issues or you will be met with untold resistance.
Second, point out that you have been changing! Most people get a little unsettled when you bring up new ideas or change efforts and they forget how much you have already changed over the years. Once you remind folks of all the things you have changed in the past and the positive impact they have made on the office, it takes the fear away from future change efforts.
Next, make sure you specifically identify up front what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how it will impact their daily lives. Adult learning research shows that if you describe the end-game up front, folks are more likely to follow you. It is the fear of the unknown that makes leading change difficult.
Fourth, we need to create mile markers along the road of change so people can see how far they have come, and how much further they need to go. This is very important psychologically for people who need to know exactly where they are at in the process and for those who need to know that they are making the change. As a manager, you need mile markers as well so that you can report your efforts to management and to truly understand your own progress.
Finally, be flexible in your plan. You may need to change your course of action. You may find that parts of your plan aren’t tolerable to others or you may run into things you didn’t for see. That’s ok! Change efforts seldom go as planned but they do get accomplished. I use this acrostic to keep me focused when leading others in any change effort:
Predetermine a course of action. Plan! Plan! Plan! What, who, when and how.
Lay out your goals. Define exactly what you want to accomplish and by when.
Adjust your priorities. You may have to be flexible in your delivery of the plan.
Notify key personnel up front of your expectations and why they were chosen.
Allow time for acceptance. Everyone needs time to absorb change. Give it to them.
Head into action with confidence because as the leader, you set the tone.
Expect problems because of two things- change and people.
Always point to the successes so that others can see the progress. (Mile markers)
Daily, review your plan and where you are headed today and tomorrow. People need to know where you are taking them.