As a coach to ambitious, pro-active leaders, I often find they quickly embrace change themselves but don’t know how to bring along their colleagues or staff. So how do you get everyone on board the change train that is gaining speed and heading out of the station?
In Seven Truths about Change to Lead and Live By, Rosebeth Moss Kanter presents Change Agent” Bumper Stickers”. These are sayings that act as guides for leaders engaged in the effort of setting a new direction, orchestrating innovation, establishing a culture, or changing behavior.
Here are four of those truths or “bumper stickers”s and tactics to make them operational.
1. “Change is a threat when done to me, but an opportunity when done by me.”
Resistance is always greatest when change is inflicted on people without their involvement. Enthusiasm and commitment result when people understand the reasons behind the change and see it as a benefit to them as well as the company.
Tactic: Let people see the advantages of the change. Answer the key questions on their mind: What do I gain? What does this mean to me and for me? How can I make a difference? Then get them involved. Although the decision about the specific change has been made, those who are e affected can have input in its implementation.
2. “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
A clear destination is necessary to guide the journey of change. Many change efforts falter because of confusion over where we’re going and why we’re going there. If people don’t understand where they’re headed then any change will seem dangerous. It’s like walking off a cliff blindfolded.
Tactic: People don’t mind changes in the game if they just know where they are going, what the new rules are, and how to score points. Provide them with a road map. It must be like a lighthouse – a bright and focused beacon that guides everyone’s work. If people don’t understand precisely where they are headed and how to get here, then it’s only sheer luck that they will succeed.
3. “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”
Big goals can seem overwhelming. The magnitude of the problem, the difficulty of the solutions, the length of the time horizon, and the number of action items can make change feel so complex that people feel paralyzed and nothing happens.
Tactic: By dividing a big change into small steps, change will seem less risky. People can then focus on one step at a time and feel they’re not being asked to take that big leap off a real or imagined cliff. Also, shoot for some quick wins – low-hanging fruit so that people can experience success. Momentum will build and the journey is underway.
4. ”Be the change you seek to make in the world.”
Leaders must embody the values and principles they want other people to adopt. This famous Gandhi quote reminds us all — that one of the most important tasks is personal: to be a role model, exemplifying the best of what the change is all about
Tactic: Go inside before you go outside. Answer these questions: How is this change initiative a leadership opportunity for you?” In other words, how can I show the way or help others in this time of turmoil?
Management Success Tip:
Remember, people are being moved from their comfort zone to a new place. While some may zealously embrace the change, most get very uncomfortable when things start to feel different. Therefore people must understand the reason for change; the process of change; and their role in change. If not, anxiety mounts, trust declines, and rumors fly. The next thing you see is the change effort not taking hold. And the conclusion by leadership was it was not a good idea or a good program. Is that accurate? Or was it how the change was managed?
Do you want to develop your Management Smarts?