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The disruption that has faced businesses today is unparalleled in our lifetime and is causing many organisations to have to change on the fly. As one of my executive colleagues recently said to me, “We feel like we’re making things up as we go.” This feeling, shared by many in corporate leadership positions, is why it’s essential that each leader exhibits strong change management within their businesses.
Change management is not a new concept among business leaders by any means. Over the last 50 years, much has been written about how to manage change, the key building blocks for change management, and how to implement a change management programme. What makes this point in time so vastly different is the collective impact that has been felt by virtually every business across the globe.
As most of the world slowly begins the process of adapting to the new normal of work—insert video conferences, working from home and the potential elimination of offices as we once knew it here—there are a few things leaders can do to manage these changes and ensure their teams’ productivity and well-being continues to flourish.
Look for the bright spots
One may wonder, and rightly so, if there are any bright spots that have occurred over the last six months since offices closed and the majority were forced to find a way to work from home. Rest assured that in most circumstances there are always bright spots that can be found.
This term “bright spots” is not uniquely mine. It’s taken from Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. The concept is to identify those things or those people that are performing well and look to springboard off of those as a positive step forward.
For instance, you may have an employee who has excelled at the change, has developed a new approach to work, and improved their productivity and overall performance. In that case, that is a bright spot and one that should be evangelised throughout the organisation and let others learn and apply the change principles to their own selves or to their teams.
Oftentimes the role of leadership in change is not having all of the ideas in and of themselves but identifying the good things that are happening and making them known.
One late Friday afternoon, during my tenure with one of the software companies I used to work for, my phone rang. It was my new boss, who I had yet to meet in person. Despite this interpersonal deficit, he began to tell me in the strictest of terms all of the changes that were coming to our department. As he ended the conversation he told me, “So you can either get on the change train or stay at the station. I expect your answer first thing on Monday morning.”
Never mind that the words “change train” had just left his mouth, I was still processing all of the changes that had been described and how many of them were impacting me and my ability to advance my career within the organisation. His sheer lack of understanding and any kind of empathy was astounding.
It was this call that was the catalyst for me leaving the organisation within a few weeks, and it highlights the importance of understanding when implementing change. Change can often be hard and leave people (who are at the heart of any business) feeling uncertain. Giving room for these emotions and time for employees to process, ask questions, and give input so they can adapt more readily is vital to leading change and making it last.
Do you actually lead change by example? Does your behaviour as a leader demonstrate the change you are looking to drive within your organisation? Click To Tweet
Lead by example
I have often heard great leaders say, “I have never asked my team to do anything I was not willing to do myself.” This is true of many, but the question that always pops into my head is, “But did you?”
It’s one thing to say you’re willing to do this or that as a leader, but do you actually lead change by example? Does your behaviour as a leader demonstrate the change you are looking to drive within your organisation?
If the answer is no, then your approach to change management and the outcomes will most likely fall flat. The strongest leaders often lead by example, and this is true when implementing and managing change.
In order for businesses to thrive in this period of time, they need strong leadership at every level. To expect that leadership is only within the executive suite is misguided, every manager can and should lead, and by applying these principles, your teams and business will be better for it.
Originally published Dec 01, 2020